New year’s feast or fin-ite: WildAid uncovers Thai waters’ shark crisis

Photo courtesy of The Nation

As Lunar New Year approaches, WildAid‘s latest findings expose a crisis in Thai waters, where shark fins on celebratory dining tables spell extinction for these majestic creatures, threatening the balance of the ocean’s ecosystem.

WildAid sounded the alarm based on a comprehensive DNA analysis of shark fin products sold in Thailand. A staggering 62% of fins sampled come from species teetering on the edge of extinction, as per the IUCN Red List.

“Say NO to consuming shark products!”

WildAid calls for an immediate shift in behaviour as their survey last year of 1,007 urban Thais reveals prevalent shark fin consumption at family gatherings, weddings, and restaurants. Dr Petch Manopawitr, a WildAid advisor, emphasises the need for a collective change, comparing shark consumption to the unthinkable act of consuming tigers.

WildAid’s survey indicates a 27.5% decrease in shark fin consumption over six years. However, with 56% of urban Thais still considering future consumption, Thailand remains an active market. The groundbreaking DNA analysis identifies 15 unique shark species, with three classified as “critically endangered,” four as “endangered,” and six as “vulnerable.”

Dr Wanlada Klangnurak, a lead researcher, highlights the discovery of threatened species in small fins, underscoring the urgent need to protect these sharks. Globally, one-third of shark and ray species face extinction due to overfishing and bycatch, with Thailand playing a pivotal role in the global shark fin trade.

The study reveals a shocking 34% of fins originate from sharks never recorded in Thai waters, emphasising reliance on external sources. Sirachai Arunrugstichai, a marine scientist, calls for strengthened conservation efforts to ensure the survival of threatened species, reported The Nation.

Chalermchai Suwannarak, Director General of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries, pledges commitment to shark conservation through the National Plan of Actions for Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks).

Leveraging the DNA study, WildAid intensifies efforts to raise awareness, foster behavioural change, and collaborate on the implementation of NPOA-Sharks. The mission is to provide global shark populations with the chance to recover and flourish, averting a catastrophe in our oceans.

Environment NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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