Understanding consumer preferences in Singapore’s shark fin trade


Sharks and rays are among the world’s most threatened species, primarily due to overfishing – some of which is driven by the shark fin market. To date, fisheries and trade regulations have often not resulted in positive conservation outcomes for threatened sharks and rays. Therefore, more avenues need to be explored to reduce consumer demand – including novel regulatory and market-based reforms.

Asia is a priority region for shark conservation being home to high species diversity, fishing pressure and consumer demand – yet the details of this demand have not been thoroughly studied. Singapore is among the top importers, re-exporters and consumers in the region, where Critically Endangered species are regularly sold and consumed. It is also a leading market for lab-cultured protein sources – seen as a possible option for shark-fin alternatives. Yet success of such an initiative would hinge on consumer acceptance instead of wild-sourced fins.

A new study led by Christina Choy with Hollie Booth and WildCRU’s Diogo Verissimo investigated shark-fin consumer demographics and preferences in Singapore through an online ‘Discreet Choice Experiment’ exploring price, size, menu type and fin source.

Based on data from 300 respondents, the findings provided welcome evidence that overall, consumers preferred cheaper fins, sourced from responsible fisheries and are also willing to accept lab-grown shark-fin alternatives. This promising news can now inform trade regulations, incentivise investment in responsible fisheries and shark fin alternatives. It can also guide conservation messaging to help encourage consumers to choose more sustainable options. The paper ends with a call to Singapore government, businesses, and consumers to take the lead in testing novel market-based and policy solutions, which could create positive ripple effects on global shark and ray populations and coastal communities.

Choy, C., Booth, H., & Veríssimo, D. (2024). Understanding consumers to inform market interventions for Singapore’s shark fin trade. People and Nature, 00, 1–16.