[WILD_SEAS] Shark lovers hope to wean Singapore off fin soup

From: wildnet (wildnet@ecoterra.net)
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 02:44:17 EST


Shark lovers hope to wean Singapore off fin soup
SINGAPORE: March 14, 2001

SINGAPORE - Shark lovers in Singapore hope to save the fish and its fins
by weaning the city state off the popular soup with a year-long
campaign.

Shark’s fin soup, which can cost up to US$100 per bowl, is a much
sought-after delicacy among Chinese in the region and is often slurped
down at business and wedding dinners.

“Sharks are vanishing from our waters,” Michael Aw, publisher of Asian
Geographic magazine and chairman of the non-profit OceaNEnvironment
Australia organisation, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to get people to say no to shark’s fin entirely. But
people will not give it up. If they can reduce the consumption, that’s
great.”

The Save Our Sharks (SOS) campaign was launched this week.

Singapore is the world’s third largest centre for the shark fin trade
after Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to the United Nations’ Food and
Agriculture Organisation.

International conservation group WildAid estimates trade in shark fins
more than doubled to 7,000 tonnes between 1980 and 1997. About 50 to 60
one metre-long (yard) sharks are killed to produce 100 kg (220 lb) of
fin, Aw said.

To feed the demand and save on boat space, fishermen slice the fins off
live sharks and toss the hapless creatures back into the sea to die.

With the number of sharks in Asian waters dwindling, traders are going
as far as the Galapagos Islands and the South African coast to find more
fins, Aw said.

“The fin has no nutritional value at all. It is the chicken stock or
fish stock that gives the taste to the soup,” Aw said. “We’re talking
about eating cartilage, the equivalent to your fingernails or your
hair.”

The SOS campaign is roping in students from 25 schools to collect
pledges from friends and family not to eat shark’s fin. Aw plans to have
pledge cards in all schools eventually.

SOS is also trying to coax Chinese restaurants and hotels to stop
serving the dish in exchange for free publicity on the campaign
organisers’ websites.

Advertisements and a music video also have been created to educate the
public of cruelty to sharks.

Aw hopes to bring a similar SOS campaign to Malaysia within six months,
followed by Hong Kong and Australia.

Story by Amy Tan REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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