Kuala Lumpur, 7 Nov. 2014 – Led by Hilton Worldwide, some of the world’s largest hospitality corporations have joined nongovernmental groups in the I’m FINished with FINs (IFWF) campaign asking 100,000 Malaysians to pledge not to consume shark fin dishes and educate the public that it is time to say “no” to shark fin soup.
Pledge drives launched in Hong Kong and Malaysia have garnered 70,000 and 76,000 pledges respectively to date. IFWF kicked off their 100,000 pledge drive in Singapore just yesterday.
Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt and other Malaysian corporate leaders signed pledges to go shark fin free, supporting the Malaysian government’s recent announcement to ban shark fin soup at all official state banquets and entertainment.
A responsible hospitality industry
“The hospitality industry possesses immense potential and responsibility to effect positive change for our society and planet,” asserted Martin Rinck, President, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide.
“Hilton Worldwide takes this responsibility seriously as the first global hospitality company to ban shark fin, today’s announcement underscores our commitment to enhance awareness about shark conservation.”
Hilton Worldwide implemented a ban on shark fin in all restaurants and F&B facilities operated by its 669 owned and managed properties globally since April 1, 2014.
On accepting the role of Shark Savers Corporate Campaign Ambassador, Rinck added, “I love the oceans and I am extremely passionate about diving and the marine life. Therefore it is a tremendous honour for me to advocate and appeal to other business leaders to join our cause.”
Stopping shark fin consumption
Conceived and launched by volunteers in 2012, IFWF has since become the world’s largest grassroots-initiated massmedia shark conservation campaign, active in top shark fin trade and consumption hubs such as China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.
The campaign’s large stable of international celebrities, opinion shapers and tastemakers champion the cause, promoting personal choice and making it socially-acceptable and environmentally-astute to cease shark fin soup consumption.
“I am thrilled to welcome Martin onboard as my Corporate Ambassador. We aim to tip the balance decisively by securing support from more corporate partners, accelerate the reach and impact of the campaign, bring about global reduction in demand for shark fins,” said Jonn Benedict Lu, Regional Director, WildAid Shark Savers Program.
Champions for sharks
To date, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt, ShangriLa, Peninsula, Starwood, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, RitzCarlton and Traders Hotel have announced ‘finfree’ policies. In addition, 24 airlines including AirAsia have officially banned shark fins from their cargo operations.
Other major players in Malaysia including AirAsia, MediaPrima, RedBerry, Aquaria KLCC, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Pet Lovers Centre, MPH, City Chain Stores, COURTS, Yahoo Malaysia, MidValley Megamall (IGB REIT), OTTO, WeChat Malaysia, SilverAnt, Sunlight Taxi, Unicab Link, Celebrity Fitness, One Academy, Lotus, Golden Screen Cinemas, ePure, Chatime, SimplyGiving, SafeTree just to mention a few also publicly signed the corporate pledge to ban shark fin dishes from all business entertainment and internal banqueting.
Engaging with industry
"We recognise that Malaysia is a significant consumer of shark fins and a major importer and exporter of shark fins globally," said Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
"WWF is addressing this through business and industry engagement to transform business practices so that markets remove shark fins from their seafood purchasing.
“We support the Department of Fisheries' nationwide campaign to ban shark fin consumption, and urge more businesses to join in this movement."
IFWF’s iconic campaign portraits were also unveiled by local celebrities and personalities, adding to the 700+ personalities championing the campaign worldwide. Over 150 campaign ambassadors from Malaysia include Alex Yoong, Amber Chia, Thanuja Ananthan, Wayne Thong, Chloe Chen, Patrick Teoh, Zainal Azura, Suhaili Micheline, Megan Tan, Natasha Seatter, Sazzy Falak, Rina Omar, Reggie Lee, Edleen Ismail, as well as Aireen Omar (AirAsia, CEO) and Izham Omar (CEO, Media Prima Television Networks and Primeworks Studios).
Arresting the decline
An estimated 100 million sharks are harvested yearly with up to 73 million killed for their fins. Some shark populations have declined by up to 98% in the last 15 years, and nearly one-third of pelagic shark species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Sharks are important “keystone species”, apex predators crucial to the maintenance of healthy ratios of prey and predators within delicate marine ecosystems. When shark populations collapse, other marine species, the supply and quality of commercial seafood could also be adversely affected.
“We have been involved with the conservation of sharks indirectly since 1960s when we first proposed for the protection of marine areas,” said Andrew Sebastian, Head of Communications, Malaysia Nature Society.
“Recently we have been running campaigns with the support of our partners which include hotels, corporate partners and Aquaria KLCC, specifically for the conservation of sharks. And today, we are heartened by the increasing call from Malaysians to stop the consumption and hunting of sharks.”
I’m FINished With FINs is a grassroots-initiated Singaporean campaign launched by a group of volunteers in 2012. It is currently active in Singapore, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sabah), Taiwan (Taipei), Hong Kong, Macau, China (Beijing, Shanghai) and the Maldives.
Working with international campaign partnerships Shark Savers, WildAid, World Wild Fund for Nature, Earth Hour, National Geographic Channel and NatGeo WILD, IFWF is currently the world’s largest celebrity-led shark conservation campaign, with more than 700+ personalities worldwide championing the cause.
Shark Savers Malaysia is primarily a volunteer-powered shark conservation group dedicated to saving the world’s dwindling shark populations through awareness, education and action. Today, more than 25,000 volunteers from 99 nations, including Malaysia, share that passion.
I’m FINished with FINs campaign promotes personal choice and responsible consumerism. When consumers help to deflate demand through direct consumer action, shark fisheries, shark fin suppliers and retailers will eventually abandon their unsustainable global hunt for sharks.
WildAid focuses on addressing the human threat to wildlife. Our comprehensive approach includes public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products, and working with communities to support and enforce key protected habitats around the world. WildAid has also defined a comprehensive marine enforcement model that focuses on the law enforcement chain, which encompasses the activities of detection, interception, prosecution, and the sentencing of lawbreakers.