THAILAND (WILDAID) - Thailand superstar, leading TV actor and passionate diver, Pong Nawat Kulrattanarak, joined WildAid's effort to end shark fin consumption in Thailand in a new campaign “Celebrate with No Shark Fin.” WildAid launched a new video message “Speak for Sharks” starring Pong Nawat which shows the cruelty behind shark fin consumption and urges the public not to consume or serve shark fin at weddings, family gatherings, business meetings or any other celebratory events.
Pong Nawat Kulrattanarak, known for his lead roles in Thailand and in Chinese television dramas, has a strong passion for sharks and SCUBA diving. “Encountering sharks during my dives brings me extreme joy and makes that moment the highlight of my day. In recent years, sighting sharks in the ocean has become more and more difficult. Sharks are vital to the balance of the ocean's ecosystem and we need to realize that before it's too late,” said Pong Nawat.
He added “I urge everyone to say no to shark fin and all shark-related menus, and help protect the oceans by making “Celebrate with No Shark Fin” the new norm for all occasions.”
According to WildAid's 2017 Shark Fin Demand in Thailand report findings, more than half of urban Thais have eaten shark fin and 61% plan to consume it again in the future. Survey respondents said they consumed shark fin most often at weddings (72%), family meals at restaurants (61%) and business meetings (47%).
“Does a celebratory event need to have shark fin on the menu to show that you have honor? I urge everyone to stop serving shark fin at your events and I believe that in return you will receive much more honor and respect,” said Dr. Vicharn Ingsrisawang, Director, Marine Fisheries and Research and Development Division, Department of Fisheries.
A large proportion of people still remain unaware about the magnitude and cruelty of the shark fin trade, suggesting a concerning potential for increased demand for fins in Thailand, especially among its 35 million urban residents. The campaign's goal is to address this gap and raise awareness to change consumer attitudes towards sharks and shark fin consumption.
An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year and fins from up to 73 million of those end up in shark fin soup. Thailand is home to an active domestic market for fins, with many consumers unaware of the cruel practice of “finning” behind each bowl of shark fin soup: a shark's fins are often cut off at sea and the shark is thrown back into the water to die.
“As apex predators sharks maintain the balance in marine ecosystem, they are indicators of ocean's good health just like tigers are indicators of a healthy forest. But, today the world's sharks are facing the threat of extinction and only we can help them. While we still have sharks to protect, we need to educate the younger generation on the issue and persuade the older generations who believe shark fin soup is a luxurious delicacy to say no to consuming shark fin for our ocean's health,” said Sopon Thongdee, Deputy Director General, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
With the backing of popular celebrity ambassador Pong Nawat, government agencies such as Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, corporate and media partners such as JCDecaux, the campaign will help more people learn about the impacts of consuming shark fin soup, and reduce consumer demand for shark fin in Thailand.
The creative concept of “Celebrate with No Shark Fin” campaign and video message ‘speak for sharks' was developed pro bono by BBDO Bangkok, Thailand's leading creative and advertising agency. The creative idea for the video message was inspired from the fact that sharks lack organs to produce sound, making us humans the only ones that can speak up for them.
The public service announcements and print billboards will be widely distributed throughout the country, from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to several national TV channels and multiple social media platforms.