By Khatijah Abdullah
Marine SIG was invited to give a talk on why we should not eat shark’s fin soup at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on the 12th of February 2008. This was following the move by Y.B. Dato’ Seri Azmi Khalid, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment who signed the Marine SIG’s Shark Fin Pledge, committing NRE to never serve shark’s fin soup at any of its functions.
The talk started at 11.45am with only a few staff attending due to some miscommunication about the talk time. However, by noon, 26 NRE staff members filled the hall. The talk, given by yours truly, mainly covered interesting facts about sharks, their present status, threats faced and most importantly why we should not eat shark’s fin soup. During the talk, it was evident that many of them were not aware of the current situation faced by these special creatures. We also talked about the Marine SIG’s campaign of getting organisations to sign our Shark’s Fin Pledge to never serve/eat shark’s fin soup.
Sharks, as the top predator in the ocean food chain, contains the highest mercury content compared to the other marine animals lower in the food chain. This is due to the fact that our oceans nowadays are more contaminated with heavy metals, including mercury, which is commonly used in the production of plastics, paper and batteries.
Shark’s fin contains the highest level of mercury compared to the rest of the shark. Mercury could cause detrimental effects to humans, especially to foetuses. It could affect learning ability, cause speech impairment and other sight and memory related skills.
The session ended with a Q&A session with many interesting enquiries from the audience. Interestingly, they also suggested that the campaign be taken to a higher level, and also given more publicity in the national media and local airwaves.
Marine SIG is also planning to take the campaign to the next level especially with the support of government bodies like NRE. We would also like to thank Ms. Mohala, the Special Officer to the Minister of NRE for her effort and hard work in arranging the talk.