Shark fin protest on Chinese NY

Animal rights advocates launched a nation-wide campaign against the sale and consumption of shark fins on Sunday as celebrations to mark Chinese New Year continue with huge banquets which traditionally serve the controversial delicacy.

  • Published: 10/02/2013 at 09:11 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The campaign dubbed "Fin Free Thailand" aims to encourage more businesses to ban shark fin soup and advises consumers to refrain from eating the dish by drawing attention to the environmental impact and health risks.

The launch took place at Banyan Tree Hotel in Bangkok which was among the first businesses in Thailand to ban shark fins.

"It breaks my heart that up to 73 million sharks are brutally harvested each year just so their fins can 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.

Shark fin soup has been identified as a serious health risk for humans. Mrs Bishop, citing the World Health Organisation, said one bowl of shark fin soup contains dangerous levels of mercury. Ingestion of mercury has been linked to numerous health problems, including reproductive and foetal development complications.

The campaign ambassador called on consumers to help take shark fin soup off the menus of local hotels and restaurants by signing the Fin Free hotel petition at

Part of a global campaign, Fin Free Thailand was initiated with the support of local NGOs and businesses, as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).

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, according to the campaign co-leader FREELAND Foundation, an international organisation fighting wildlife trafficking and human slavery.

Opposition to shark fin soup has gained momentum from hotel and restaurant operators across Asia.

“We're hoping to start a Fin Free wave change that will show Thailand can lead the way,” Mrs Bishop said.

Photo by Thiti Wannamontha

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