Since the launch of Fin Free Thailand during the Chinese New Year in 2013, the campaign has seen great success, both in raising consumer awareness and in developing partnerships with businesses to ban shark fin.
There are up to 99 prominent hotels and 5 restaurants join the program and pledge to be 100% shark fin free, including leading brands, such as Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, The Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula Bangkok, Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Amari Hotels Resorts & Spas, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, and Cape & Kantary Hotels.
Contrary to popular belief, shark fin is not nutritious or healthy. The shark fin ingredient is often found to contain dangerously high amounts of mercury and toxic contaminants1. In particular, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children are advised to avoid shark fin soup due to the serious health risks posed by mercury ingestion.
“Consumers should know about the potential health risks associated with eating shark fin,” said Cindy Burbridge Bishop, actress, conservationist and Fin Free Thailand Ambassador. “With nearly one-third of all annual shark fin consumption taking place during Chinese New Year, now is the time to protect your health and the well-being of your loved ones by eating healthier alternatives instead.”
Beyond the benefits to the well-being of consumers, avoiding shark fin soup is vital to the health of oceans. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year, the majority brutally harvested just for their fins. Decades of overfishing has resulted in the catastrophic decline of shark populations. Some species have been reduced by 99 per cent since the 1950s and one-third of shark species are now threatened with extinction.
“Fewer sharks does not mean more fish – the killing of sharks destabilizes one of our most important food sources and is causing great imbalance to our oceans’ fragile ecosystems,” said Duongporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava, Fin Free Thailand Ambassador and award-winning chef-owner of Bo.Ian restaurant in Bangkok. “The ruthless extermination of a species for a luxury food lacking nutritional value is simply unjustifiable.”
Globally and in Asia Pacific, the movement to stop shark fin consumption is also gaining stride, including both Chinese and Hong Kong governments banning shark fin from official functions, as well as twelve flagship airlines now refusing to transport shark fin.