Shark fins are laid out to dry. (Photo credit: Pew Environmental Group, globalanimal.org)

In the run up to Chinese New Year, sentiments from Singapore netizens have prompted local supermarkets to cease selling shark fin products. Here’s a brief timeline in case you missed what’s happened lately:

Sep 2011: Cold Storage stopped selling shark’s fin.

17 Nov 2011: Thern Da’s manager, Chris Lee incited furor online over his “Screw the Divers” post. Shares, dislikes, and comments expressed by divers and non-divers followed.

17 Dec 2011: Project FIN’s “Painting Facebook Red” Campaign was launched to increase awareness of shark finning and the sale of shark fin products in Singapore.

6 Jan 2012: Singapore’s largest supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice declared it was halting sales of shark fin products. FairPrice is also withdrawing from its shelves all products from one seafood supplier – Thern Da Seafood – after one of its employees made insensitive comments about divers who were against shark finning.

7 Jan 2012: A Carrefour spokesman told the Straits Times it will not replenish its stocks of the environmentally controversial products after they sell out.

8 Jan 2012: 35,312 likes and 989 people “talking about this” on “That’s My FairPrice” Facebook page.

11 Jan 2012: Sheng Siong to provide a statement to its customers about the sale of shark fin products.

Here’s more to think about.

Up to 73 million sharks are caught each year for the global fin trade, which fuels a demand for shark fin soup, according to Pew Environment Group. Fishers usually slice the animals’ fins off and throw their still-living bodies overboard.

Overall, “sharks play a critical role in the ocean environment,” Pew’s Jill Hepp said in a statement. “Where shark populations are healthy, marine life thrives; but where they have been overfished, ecosystems fall out of balance,” Hepp said.

And according to the conservation group WWF, Singapore is the world’s second largest shark fin trading centre after Hong Kong. Care2.com also writes that dried shark fins are shipped to the island-state from oceans around the world and the fins are then exported overseas.

Think about all the wedding banquets and Chinese New Year celebrations that have served/serve/will serve shark’s fin soup. Now we ask ourselves these questions:

Can we abstain from eating shark’s fin products?

Do we have the power to influence our friends and peers not to consume these products?

As citizens and consumers, can we play our part towards responsible fishing?

Do we follow tradition or keep environmental conservation in mind?

With ease and urgency that social media allows us, the tides are changing. Young folks are educating their parents  and grandparents about the adverse effects of shark finning. Individuals are stepping up and creating fan pages, encouraging discussion and awareness on the issue’s impact. Retailers are listening to their consumers and stopping the sale of shark fin products. Communities are coming together to bring forward safe consumption and environmentally safe practices for today’s generation.

This is wonderful news as we usher in the lunar new year. And we are hopeful that more inspiring individuals, organizations and companies will extend their commitment to more people worldwide. We are far from resolving the global problem on finning and illegal fishing but we are off to a pretty good start.

 

Sources:

Carrefour says no to shark’s fin

Limiting/banning of shark fin trade in Singapore

Movement to ban shark fin trade in Singapore

No shark’s fin products at FairPrice by end March

NTUC FairPrice, Singapore’s Largest Supermarket Chain, Says No To Shark Fin Products

Outrage over posting on shark fin supplier’s web page

Screw the Divers: The Sad Tale of Thern Da Seafood Pte Ltd

Shark Fin Photos Reveal Extreme Reality