Holiday Inn Glenmarie bans shark fin soup

KUALA LUMPUR: It may cost up to RM45 per serving, but many are willing to pay a princely sum for it. But like exotic meat dishes, consuming shark fin is not without its controversies. Animal rights activists and environmentalists have called for a ban on the consumption of shark fin to protect the ocean’s top predator. 

The Malaysian Nature Society has roped in Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie as the first hotel to support the ban on shark fin. The announcement was made by hotel general manager Anil Pathak at a recent press conference.

Also present were MNS communications head Andrew J. Sebastian, and hotel senior wedding planner Wendy Lee.

Pathak said the hotel would advise against shark fin, especially to clients requesting for the soup on their wedding lunch or dinner menus.  The hotel will offer alternative dishes such as herbal chicken or Szechuan soup.

The hotel will offer a complimentary upgrade to its duplex suite and a buffet dinner to the wedding couple who forgo shark fin. Couples who opt for a shark fin-free wedding banquet will get a certificate of appreciation from MNS.

However, the hotel would still serve shark’s fin if its clients insisted as the Chinese community perceive the dish as a status symbol, said Pathak.

The campaign will run for one year and promote awareness on the plight of the shark. It will highlight the components of the marine ecosystem and dispel the misconceptions about shark fin.

During the campaign, the MNS will bring to light the beauty of the shark and how the human impact has led to the demise of many species of shark through a series of activities and programmes.

According to Sebastian, about 75 million sharks throughout the world are caught yearly.

In Malaysia, he said, although there were no statistics available on sharks caught, the catch was undoubtedly increasing.

“Our objective is to encourage and convince at least 100 Malaysian-based companies, organisations, hotels and other groups to commit to not serving shark fin soup.

“MNS will give talks on Malaysia’s marine treasures and what everyone can do to help conserve and protect the marine ecosystem.

“We will collaborate with a magazine or radio station to promote and launch the campaign as well as highlight the organisations who have pledged to not serve shark fin soup as shining examples of the Malaysian community,” said Sebastian.

Since November 2007, more than 30 companies and organisations including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have made the pledge. Corporations, hotels and eateries interested in supporting the campaign can call 03-2287 9422 or visit http://www.msn.com.my.


Source: New Straits Times
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Fins – Best on Sharks: Appeal

By Serina Rahman

More than half of 2008 has shot by and Selangor Branch Marine SIG’s Fins – Best on Sharks campaign is trundling along as we concentrate on reaching out and speaking to more groups of people in person. In the past 6 months, we’ve given talks and held exhibitions at several events, companies and schools – in the hope that increasing awareness will get more people thinking about their food choices.

For those who are not within reach of our email shark bytes, Selangor Branch Marine SIG has been working to discourage people from eating shark’s fin soup by sharing the truth behind the much-misunderstood shark and the critical importance of the species to our marine ecosystem and in the long-term, our own future.

Now that PA is a nationwide newsletter, we hope that other branches might be interested in getting involved. In Selangor, we’ve been asking companies to pledge not to serve shark’s fin soup at company functions. We also have individual pledges for students to gather signatures. (This in itself is an educational tool as the students have to explain the facts to others before they get the pledges). And in line with our focus this year, we have been particularly active in going out to give talks.

The response to our talks has been positive and we are happy to do more of the same in the future. While our slides would be too huge to send out to those interested in doing the same in your own states, we’d be more than happy to email our facts and statistics for you to create a presentation that you are comfortable with. The easiest way to get involved, however, is to encourage companies and organisations to pledge. We always emphasise that we are NOT asking for money from them – instead, we are simply asking them to commit to how NOT to spend their money.

Information kits are available for you to use and our websites might also be helpful. In future, we hope to take this campaign to another level, reaching out to wedding planners, other NGOs and local authorities. If you are keen to support this effort in your part of Malaysia – do send us an email.

Every time one more person says no to shark’s fin soup or other shark-based food and products, the economic reasoning behind the unnecessary slaughter of sharks will be reduced. It’s not difficult to do – get in touch with us today!

For more information on the Fins – Best on Sharks campaign, log on to http://mnsmarine.blogspot.com or to visit our Wedding Website, click on http://mnsmarine.tripod.com/wedding/. To get in touch with us about the pledges, hosting a talk at your organisation, your future shark-free wedding or to get involved, write to Serina at serina_mola@yahoo.com.

Preventing the Decline of Sharks

By Khatijah Abdullah

The Malaysian Nature Society was invited to take part in the Malaysian International Dive Expo (MIDE 2008) recently by presenting 2 talks on various issues. We chose to give a talk on pygmy seahorses and a talk on sharks.

On July 6th, the coordinator for the MNS (Selangor Branch) Marine SIG’s Fins – Best on Sharks Campaign, Kerry Stansfield, presented a talk on sharks, including its background, facts and figures and also the current situation of shark populations worldwide. Although there was a slight problem due to the change of the talk time, it was well attended. We had about 15 people there to listen to the talk. Most of the audience was from Taylor’s College, who were there as part of their project on shark’s fin consumption. We also had other visitors, who were curious and wanted to learn more about what sharks are all about.

Kerry also pointed out the hazards in consuming shark’s fin soup or shark meat for that matter. The mercury content in shark meat and especially its fin is very high due to environmental pollution. Being the top predator in the marine ecosystem, the accumulated mercury from the lower level of the food chain ends up in sharks and by consuming the creatures, we put ourselves at risk of mercury poisoning. The major contributor to shark population depletion is the demand in fins, mainly for shark’s fin soup, as well as other dishes such as fish and chips. It is estimated that nearly 100 million sharks are killed each year to fulfill this demand.

It is hoped that through talks like this, we would be able to make a difference in conserving shark populations worldwide as well as protecting our health in the process.

Talk: How to prevent shark’s decline?

Date: 6 July (Sunday)
Venue: Hall 4, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC)
Time: 5pm to 6pm
Speaker: Kerry Stansfield

There are more than 350 species of sharks in the world’s oceans. The biggest sharks – the whale shark and the basking shark – feed on tiny plankton. Most shark species are less than two feet long and are only harmful to the small fish and crustaceans that make up their diet. While the great white and the bull shark are relatively fearsome, the snaggle-toothed grey nurse shark that is often touted by aquariums as forbidding, dangerous creatures are only interested in fish and are actually very docile.

Think you know more than enough about the vicious-looking shark? Think again. Join Kerry Stansfield of Marine SIG for an eye-opening talk on sharks at the Malaysian International Dive Expo 2008 (MIDE 2008).

Learn about the threats to sharks and why they are biologically vulnerable, as well as the impacts of shark population decline. Find out what you can do to prevent decline in shark numbers and also the Marine SIG’s “Fins – Best on Sharks” project.

Kerry has an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from the University of London, and a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Manchester. A diving enthusiast, she currently teaches Chemistry and Science in a school in Kuala Lumpur.

Come and join us for this interesting talk. For more information, please contact Khatijah of Marine SIG (013-7708204, ija_02@yahoo.com). For more information on MIDE 2008, visit http://www.mide.com.my.

Screening: Sharkwater documentary

Date: 10 June (Tues)
Venue: MNS HQ Auditorium
Time: 8pm

Filmed in high definition video, Sharkwater takes the viewer into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world’s shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Come and join us for this screening, for MNS members only. For more information, please contact Khatijah of Marine SIG (013-7708204, ija_02@yahoo.com).

Mengapa anda tidak patut makan sup sirip ikan yu

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.

Sharks ahoy at Alice Smith KL

By Serina Rahman

As the six young Nature Detectives stepped into Mrs Lim (better known to MNS birders as Bing)’s library, their eyes widened in excitement. Parked quietly on their favourite carpet was a big (inflatable) shark.

And there I was ready to fill their minds with shark trivia. It’s always exciting to work with little kids and talk to them about marine life. But nothing quite gets to them as much as the shark.

Most children know a lot about sharks already – how they have many many teeth and love the taste of humans. But it was a discerning lot that day at Alice Smith as they could tell me that sharks don’t mean to bite – they’re just being curious. Or that their traditional prey had all been shot by man. While some had eaten shark fin soup, others were aware of its origins and the children were suitably saddened by the image of drowned finless sharks.

But the afternoon was not all about sad thoughts; it was a session to celebrate all that is wonderful about this top predator of our seas. And the children jumped at the chance to discover the many weird shapes and sizes of sharks that they had never seen or heard of before.

It was encouraging to see that the world’s citizens of tomorrow remain open to the possibility that sharks aren’t all that evil and bad, and that they too deserve their rightful place on this planet. If only their unbridled passion could permeate the souls of other young minds, our seas and sharks will always be ensured a safe journey. We can only hope…

To request an eye-opening shark talk for your office or school, contact Serina at serina_mola@yahoo.com. These public awareness programmes are part of the MNS Marine SIG’s Fins – Best on Sharks Campaign.