Malaysians losing their taste for shark fin soup, says WWF

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 24 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Though Malaysia is one of the world’s top consumers of shark fin soup, the popularity of the dish fell by almost fifty per cent over the last six months, and the downward trend is expected to continue in the coming year, said World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF) marine head Dr Robecca Jumin.

"In the past six months, there was a 44 per cent decline in consumption of shark fin soup, which might be driven by (a number of factors, including) more effective shark protection, greater awareness among the public, environmental concerns, and a change in dining culture.

"According to WWF’s 2015 survey (of average consumers), respondents said (their change in attitude towards shark consumption was self-driven), but social media and environmental non-governmental organisations (played a role), " Robecca said during a My Fin My Life dialogue session with business operators here this morning.

She added that most shark fin soup dishes were served in restaurants during family gatherings or special occasions such as wedding receptions, especially among the Chinese.

Worldwide, about 100,000 sharks are killed each and every year for their fins, as well as liver oil and cartilage.

From 2000 to 2010, Malaysia ranked 9th among the world’s top 20 shark catchers, and 3rd as importer of fins. On average, 84 per cent of imported shark fins are consumed domestically.

According to Robecca, this year’s My Fin My Life campaign aims to reverse the still-high shark fin soup consumption in Malaysia by engaging the public and businesses to unanimously pledge not to consume shark fin soup and related products.

"Among the targets (are to encourage) 20,000 restaurants and 500 businesses in the country to phase-out shark fin soup from their menus, and to recruit one million Malaysians to support the call for (an end to shark fin soup consumption). "We are targeting Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu to achieve it," she added.

Sabah to lose tourism dollars if it allows shark population to decline
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 24 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will lose out to neighbouring countries in generating income in the tourism industry if it fails to conserve its shark population.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the southern Philippines' waters, which are rich in biodiversity, pose a competition to Sabah's diving activities.

"Philippine President (Rodrigo) Duterte is going all out to sort out the security issue in the country. "Our reluctance to get shark species protected, will give opportunities for other countries to take advantage of the diving industry," he said in his closing speech during the 'My Fin My Life' campaign at the Kota Kinabalu Business dialogue here.

Last year, about 55,000 divers came to Sabah and 80 per cent of them wanted to see live sharks in the sea. The year-long activity alone contributed more than RM300 million in tourism receipts.

Masidi added that besides restaurants, local employment in tourism services would be greatly affected when the population of the marine ecosystem's apex predator diminishes.

He also said Natural Resources and Environment minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had agreed to find ways for the state to better protect the species through laws.

Meanwhile, the state ministry had earlier annouced that shark sanctuaries would be set up at more than two million hectares of marine parks including the newly-gazetted Tun Mustapha Park in Kudat, Tunku Abdul Rahman park in Kota Kinabalu, and the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna.

Present were city mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, WWF Malaysia marine head Dr Robecca Jumin and Sabah conservation head Dr John Tay as well as Sabah Shark Protection president Aderick Chong.

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