January 19, 2015 – BANGKOK, Thailand - Three leading supermarket chains in Thailand have officially removed shark products from their shelves thanks to student appeals from a local environmental campaign. The announcement came just ahead of Chinese New Year, a time common for shark product consumption, such as shark fin soup.
UFM Fuji, Villa Market and Tops Supermarket officially removed shark products from their shelves today after being approached by Youth Ambassadors from Fin Free Thailand, a grass roots campaign which encourages businesses to refrain from serving shark fin soup. More than 150 businesses, including hotels and restaurants have now joined the campaign. The addition of two leading supermarkets expands the campaign’s influence in the private sector to be socially and environmentally responsible.
“Chinese New Year is the time where families and relatives gather to celebrate the special time of the year. Many value this sacred opportunity. It is a tradition for us to wish others prosperity and good health. To consider refraining from buying and/or selling shark fin soup and any shark related products would make this year a better one,” said Papin “Pinn” Chirathivat. “Our voice may change a group of people, and the whole society’s voice will definitely change the world for the better,” added Phitchaya “Inc” Thongthai. Pinn and Inc are Fin Free Thailand’s Youth Ambassadors who actively encourage supermarkets to ban sale of shark fin products.
Through outreach and public petitions, Fin Free Thailand encourages businesses to ban the sale of shark fin and advises consumers to refrain from eating it by drawing attention to the environmental impacts and human health risks. The consumption of shark fin products has been linked with the inhumane slaughter of sharks with some estimates reaching as high as 100 million sharks targeted annually. Shark products can also contain high levels of heavy metals.
Part of a global movement, Fin Free Thailand and its Blue List of shark-friendly hotels is a cooperative campaign supported by Freeland, Love Wildlife Foundation, the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Change.org Thailand, Wild Encounter Thailand, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.