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Sometimes corporate responsibility conflicts with the bottom line, and Starwood is going to find out if its ban on shark fin will create a problem for it in Asia. Kudos to Starwood for taking this step.

Starwood Hotels announced plans to stop buying shark fin for all of its hotels and restaurants worldwide starting in July, a gutsy move for a chain that had 263 properties in Asia, including 130 in “greater China,” at the end of 2013.

By the end of 2014, Starwood intends to completely eliminate shark fin “without exception” in all of its dining and food & beverage establishes globally.

Those 263 properties in Asia, where shark fin is considered a delicacy, represented 22.3% of Starwood’s portfolio.

“At Starwood, we believe economic growth and the well-being of society are inextricably tied to the health of the environment, including the health of the world’s oceans and its inhabitants,” said Frits van Paasschen, Starwood CEO. “Our worldwide ban on shark fin represents an important, environmentally responsible step to aid in the collective goal of marine preservation.”

“As a company with a collection of hotels that span the globe, Starwood has a unique opportunity to influence travelers and guests worldwide, and to underline the importance of good stewardship of our planet,” van Paasschen said.

The practice of severing sharks fins and often tossing the sharks back into the ocean, where they drown or are killed by predators, has been blasted as cruel, and contributing to the endangerment of several species.

Starwood claims to be the first global hotel operator to implement a shark fin ban.

Several airlines, including a handful in Asia, have pledged to ban the transportation of shark fin when procured from unsustainable or unverifiable sources.

Starwood pledged to provide more information about its sustainability policies in a global citizenship report slated for publication in the next few months.

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Tags: climate change, starwood, sustainability

Photo credit: Workers lay out pieces of shark fin to dry on a rooftop of a factory building in Hong Kong January 2, 2013. 126414 / 126414

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