Sharks – in perspective
dolphins, sharks are hardly adorable. Bequeathed
with a man-eating personality grossly exaggerated and promoted by movies such
as JAWS, to many, a good shark is but a dead one. Yet, conservationists
tenaciously expect a change of attitude and behavior by selling the message
that sharks are cruelly killed for their fins and may eventually be extinct.
As we all know most people only care to preserve that which they love and in
this respect, not many people can say that they love sharks. Whilst we nature
lovers may understand the concept, it is entirely strange to the shark fin
consumer. Unless, one is a scuba diver or has some understanding of sharks,
they are a mean looking animals that bite.
the average person, extinction of sharks may only mean to that it is safer for
them to take a midnight swim!
shark conservation campaigns in Singapore initiated by WildAid resulted in
fiery argument that is imperialistic for westerners to criticize Asian
gastronomical habits, which were rebuffed with an overnight increase in shark
fin consumption at all gourmet restaurants. Whilst education may work well
with the younger generation, the current rich and affluent populace in South
East Asian capital cities being told by western conservationist to give up
shark fin soup, find their idea a little hard to swallow. As far as they are concerned it is the British that are cruel
with their hunting of fox and rabbits as a pastime, the Canadians are bashing
all the cute puffy seals and the Americans have just about successfully wipe
out their population of manatees and buffaloes.
an Asian with over 15 years of corporate life in Singapore, Hong Kong and
Malaysia, I can appreciate their social values and intricacies.
To buy a US$500 bowl of shark fin soup at dinner table for my loved one
is not only to make a statement of success, but a filial gesture, a small
token of appreciation to the elders. To celebrate a meal with such indulgence
with friends is bolstering to the ego, and with clients is a silent bribe for
their custom. Protecting finless sharks from being thrown back to die in the
sea is a far away as 7th heaven, a foreign concept.
of the huge profits made from the fin trade and intangible value of this
profligacy among the kind of people involved, they are not easily persuaded by
conservation arguments. Don't go
questioning the morals of the fishermen either; as we all know morals are
governed by one culture, experience and the necessity to make a living. While
the fishermen yield only the crumbs, the trade is a billion dollar industry to
the fisheries and authorities. As such the demand for shark fins can only be
reduced from the consumer end.
we need a stronger fire to light up lanterns made of cowhide. Because most
Asians are passive and law-abiding citizens, the most obvious way to save
sharks is for respective authorities to outlaw consumption of shark fin soup.
For the consumer to be able to imagine the brutality, the practice of slicing
fins of sharks and throwing the animal back to the sea alive must perceived to
be the same as chopping of legs of cow and throwing them back into the field
to waste. If the conservationists, divers, NGOs and media are serious about
protecting sharks they must boycott all restaurants that promote gourmet shark
fin soup and they must lobby the respective custom departments to make import
of shark fins illegal, perhaps punishable with extensive fines and
this is probably not going to happen therefore the next best way (in my o
is to make consumers fee shameful of the habit. I know, 'saving face' is a big
thing in Asia. If we are serious about saving sharks, a SHAME campaign is a
fresh and effective approach to reduce the carnage.
recently celebrated the 25th
of the movie with a DVD