KOTA KINABALU: Business and conservation are joining forces to change the consumer appetite for shark fin soup by offering what they claim to be a better dish on the menu – the Empurau fish.
The public will have a chance to sample the alternative dish in an event to be held at Imago Shopping Mall on Nov 11.
It is organised by the Sabah Shark Protection Society with the hope of creating greater awareness that Empurau fish soup can be a better alternative to shark fin soup.
Welcoming the move, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said while some people may take it as a “slap in the face”, it is the right way forward as the tourism sector depends on healthy shark population to continue generating income.
He reiterated that one single shark is worth up to US$800,000 in tourism value.
“We understand the sensitivity of the people, especially the older generations who believe that not serving the soup during weddings is a ‘slap in the face’.
“But there is supposed to be more variety of choices. Something that even a certain sector of the older generations would feel their credibility is not in any way affected by not serving it,” said Masidi during a press conference on the “Alternative To Shark Fin Soup” Exhibition, Monday.
Meanwhile, Sabah Shark Protection Association Chairman Aderick Chong said a large number of restaurants were still found to be serving shark fin soup in 2012 but have now given up the menu this year.
SSPA, he said, is supported by Royal Empurau of Go Seafood Sdn Bhd, a company that farms empuraus in a sustainable manner.
“We are stepping up our event this year due to the support from Royal Empurau as we now have a new sustainable resource which is more prestigious and more expensive than shark fins along with the inclusion of bird’s nests.”
“That is why this event actually creates a platform for the fish or rather alternative to come out of the shadow and into the limelight. We want to tell the people that shark fin soup is old fashioned now,” he said.
Go Seafood CEO Mikhail Razak said they have been working together with other executive chefs from 5-star hotels and restaurants to produce a suitable soup that can be served as a better alternative to shark-fin soup.
“We had mixed results but I think now we have created something that will definitely surprise people which will be revealed that on the day itself,” he said.
An Empurau fish is a luxury dish that can cost up to RM2,000 per kilogramme.