Fin Free Campaign Promotes a Healthier New Year
BANGKOK – February 10th, 2013
Today, Thai environmental groups, celebrities, students, prominent chefs and businesses launched a new nation-wide campaign to stop the sale and consumption of shark fin.
Fin Free Thailand encourages businesses to ban shark fin and advises consumers to refrain from eating it by drawing attention to the environmental impacts and health risks. Hotels, restaurants and supermarkets selling shark fin are also encouraged to adopt a ‘fin free’ policy through outreach and public petitions.
"It breaks my heart that up to 73 million sharks are brutally harvested each year just so their fins could end up in soup bowls of the rich and wealthy. Such a waste, such a tragic loss," said actress and avid diver Cindy Burbridge Bishop, an ambassador for the campaign.
Legal and illegal fishing to meet the global demand for shark fin soup has contributed to a catastrophic decline in shark populations. Some species have been reduced by 99 per cent since the 1950s. It is unclear exactly how the world’s oceans will be affected by this dramatic and increasing loss.
At the launch, FREELAND Foundation will update the press and public on scientific research into the potential human health risks of consuming shark fin. In 2001, a coalition of restaurant owners unsuccessfully tried to sue the organization (then called WildAid Thailand) for close to THB100 million for revealing scientific facts to the public relating to unsafe levels of methyl-mercury found in shark fin. Recently published research has also linked another bio-accumulated toxin (called BMAA) found in shark fin to serious neurodegenerative diseases.
“It’s really important that people know the facts, so they can make an informed healthy choice for themselves and their families and friends,” said Chanadda Thanikulapat, Communications Officer for FREELAND Foundation. “And for hospitality businesses, I think they’ll want to protect their customers’ health and the environment too.”
Part of a global campaign, Fin Free Thailand is being initiated with support from local NGOs and businesses, as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"It's exciting to see that many hotels are supportive of this movement and understand the importance of conserving the shark population and environment," said Nancy Gibson of Love Wildlife Foundation. "The general public plays the key role in this consumer driven world and we strongly urge those who care to step up and be the voice of those who cannot speak."
Leading the campaign is FREELAND Foundation, Love Wildlife Foundation, Change.org Thailand, A Call for Animal Rights and Onnesse. Further partners are being sought to help increase its reach.
“We’ve already had an amazing response from the community,” said Tul Pinkaew, Campaigns Director of Change.org Thailand. “I think the campaign will continue to gather momentum and we’ll see more and more hotels changing their policies in a positive way.”
The campaign launch is hosted by the Banyan Tree Bangkok. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts was among the first businesses in Thailand to ban shark fin, when it enacted a ‘fin free’ policy more than five years ago.
After the press conference, attendees are invited to join members of the public and animal activists for a walk rally and citizen engagement activities through central Bangkok.
The campaign will include:
- A TVC motion graphic video explaining the risks and impacts of eating shark fin
- Video pledges / appeals by campaign ambassadors
- Press launch & walk rally with shark mascots and student flash mob activities
- Photo & art exhibition by World Press Award 2012 winner Paul Hilton & local artists
- Chinese pop-up dinner highlighting sustainable alternatives to celebrate New Year
- Hotel outreach and public petitions encouraging more businesses to go Fin Free
- An bilingual website and social media channels to inform and provide action tools
- A ‘Blue List’ and map recognizing businesses that have pledged to be Fin Free
- ‘100% Fin Free Approved’ stickers for participating businesses to display
- T-shirts, pins & other campaign merchandise
- TV and print publicity