Malaysia: ‘Avoid eateries serving shark fin’ -- Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents

NURBAITI HAMDAN The Star 30 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Tour and travel agents have drawn the line when it comes to eateries with shark fin soup on their menus.

“Say it’s a three-star hotel that sells shark fin. We will not take them (tourists) there.

“We will not have functions there. We will not have events there,” Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said.

He said it was the first time MATTA had made such a stand public, although the group had been against the eating of shark fins for years.

Tan said this after the group issued a statement quoting him as calling on the group’s 3,100-plus members to boycott places with shark fins on the menu.

He later clarified to The Star that this call was not a rule, but an advisory.

“The sharks help keep the ecosystem in order. Once the sharks are all gone, then the ecosystem will also change,” he said.

He also added that such a scenario would not be good for dive resorts.

Asked what led MATTA to make this call, he said it was due to Sabah state tourism minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun’s disappointment over the seeming lack of federal action on the matter.

MATTA’s press statement yesterday called on its members and partners to boycott restaurants offering sharkfin on their menus.

Quoting Tan, it said shark fin consumption was no longer in vogue and leading hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin had stopped serving the dish.

“But in a recent report by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, a shocking 98% of the 375 restaurants surveyed continue to choose money over environmentally friendly practices.

“If voluntary efforts are ineffective, tourism authorities could compile a list of restaurants that serve shark fin so that tourists could boycott them altogether, and not just the dish,” Tan said in the statement.

According to Tan, European Union countries had already prohibited shark finning since 2003 and by 2013, another 27 nations had joined them.

“Many tourists are environmental conscious and promoting ecotourism would backfire if we continue to allow our sharks to be slaughtered.

Tan said the banning of shark hunting and killing was under the purview of the Government but the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister did not wish to impose such a ban, even if it is for Sabah only.

“If a nationwide prohibition is not practical, the least the Government could do is to introduce it to the states that call for a ban, starting with Sabah.”


Boycott restaurants offering shark fins in their menus
THARANYA ARUMUGAM New Straits Times 30 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has called on its members and partners to boycott restaurants offering shark fins in their menus in an effort to conserve sharks and their declining population in Malaysian waters.

Matta inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the shark population in Sabah had declined by 80 per cent over the past three decades and they were fewer sharks in waters off Peninsular Malaysia.

The sharks found in Sabah, he said, had attracted over 55,000 divers last year, pumping RM323 million to the local economy but cautioned that this annual revenue would be wiped out if the sharks are reduced in numbers.

He said the banning of shark hunting and killing falls under the purview of the Federal Government but the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister does not wish to impose such a ban, even for Sabah.

“European Union countries had already prohibited shark finning since 2003 and they were joined by another 27 nations by 2013.

“The ban on shark hunting and killing will be further delayed if hunters are given greater priority than this magnificent fish species, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of nature in our marine ecosystems. “Hence, Matta has called for a boycott of establishments serving shark fins.

The slogan - When the buying stops, the killing can too, is just as applicable here as in other conservation efforts," he said in a statement today.

Tan said shark fins consumption had no longer been in vogue for some time and leading hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin do not serve it.

However, he said in a recent report by Hong Kong Shark Foundation, a shocking 98 percent of the 375 restaurants surveyed continued to choose money over environmentally friendly practices.

Tan suggested that if voluntary efforts were ineffective in tacking the issue, tourism authorities could compile a list of restaurants that serve shark fins, hence tourists could boycott them, and not just the dish.

“A strategic campaign to raise awareness and educate restaurant operators, locals and tourists would have a rippling effect across society, and ensure that such noble conservation efforts are sustainable. “A simple competition to pick the best slogan for not eating shark fins would generate much interest and publicity, and those enterprising could sell T-shirts with meaningful slogans.”

Tan said the drop in demand for shark fins would force fishermen to look for more sustainable catch or perhaps pull their resources together to build kelongs as many marine fishes sold in the markets are farmed. “These kelongs can also be turned into tourist attractions for day trippers and overnight visitors.”

Tan said the Federal Government could perhaps introduce the banning of shark fins to states that call for a ban, starting with Sabah.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of the state and the fact that it earned RM6.4 billion last year did not come by chance but as a result of great foresight by banning logging 15 years ago.”

“Since 2011, Sabah State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun has been urging the Federal Government to ban shark hunting and killing but to no avail.

“The widespread desecration of our natural resources in the peninsula will continue in Sabah and Sarawak unless the ministry is helmed by someone who is more environmental conscious. “We need to be more caring and shark finning is cruel.

As for the tourism industry, it is like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs,” he added.

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