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PeopleAgain, Why Shark Fin Soup Is A Dumb Luxury

Again, Why Shark Fin Soup Is A Dumb Luxury

Again, Why Shark Fin Soup Is A Dumb Luxury
By Mika Apichatsakol
August 02, 2018
Thailand is the largest exporter of shark fin—not something to be proud of

Actor Pong Kulrattanarak stars in PSA "Speak For Sharks" for WildAid's #NoSharkFin campaign

News to many of us, July 14, in addition to being Bastille Day, was also Shark Awareness Day. Commemorating the latter occasion, US-based environmental organisation WildAid held an exhibition and press conference at CentralWorld to present the #NoSharkFin campaign, intended to bring an end to shark fin consumption in Thailand. The face of this local campaign is famous Thai actor Pong Nawat Kulrattanarak, who is also a passionate diver and marine life lover. In the above video, Pong uses his cinematic talents to draw attention to the needless suffering of sharks to serve a tradition we can easily do without.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Rotman & WildAid

No newly-risen controversy, the cruel practice of harvesting sharks for shark fin soup is very well-known. Recapping, sharks are inhumanely finned, tossed right back into the ocean to die after having their fins brutally hacked off. All this violence just to present a ceremonial dish at Asian weddings, family gatherings and business functions in which the title ingredient contributes only a texture (ham and chicken make up the flavours of the shark fin soup broth). Meanwhile, this delicacy has reduced shark populations by roughly 90 per cent over the last 50 years.

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Infographic on the environmental cost of shark fin soup (image: Courtesy of WildAid)

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Infographic on Thailand's consumption of shark fin soup (Image: Courtesy of WildAid)

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Shark fin delicacy prepared on the streets (Photo: Courtesy of Tim Howard & WildAid)

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The ubiquitous popularity of shark fin soup in this region (Photo: Courtesy of Tim Howard & WildAid)


A Chinese family restaurant dedicated to shark fin soup (Photo: Courtesy of WildAid)

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The harvesting of shark fin (Photo: Courtesy of Shawn Heinrichs & WildAid)

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The harvesting of shark fin (Photo: Courtesy of Shawn Heinrichs & WildAid)

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The buckets show that only fins are harvested from the sharks; the rest of the animal is discarded (Photo: Courtesy of Shawn Heinrichs & WildAid)

The facts are clear and yet numbers tell us that there is still very much a need for active campaigning. According to WildAid’s 2017 survey, more 60 per cent of urban Thais are not opposed to having shark fin soup and at least 50 per cent have had it before. In total, about 100 million sharks are murdered annually for their fins, and Thailand occupies a significant position in the global market. Thailand exported over 22,000 tonnes of shark fin and shark fin products between 2012 and 2016. In 2015 alone, we exported over 5,000 tonnes of shark fin. This data makes us the number one exporter of shark fins. That’s not something to be proud of.

Thailand has seen significant progress in social movements and issues in 2018 so far. Let #NoSharkFin become another success story to be heard around the world.

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Photo: Courtesy of Kydd Pollock & WildAid

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