A coalition of NGOs and WildAid’s ambassador Pong Nawat Kulrattanarak hand-delivered an open letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand on Tuesday calling for urgent action to end consumption of shark fin at all government events.
The government came under heavy criticism from the public after local media reported that shark fin soup had been served at an official banquet on December 3rd, a day before Thai Environment Day. A public outcry led by media commentators and social media posts went viral with WildAid’s campaign message “Celebrate with #NoSharkFin.”
“We want the entire country to join us in saying no to shark fin,” said Pong Nawat while delivering the letter. “The one entity that can help us in this is the government, which can serve as a role model by helping us reduce the demand for shark fin.”
The open letter was accepted by the Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Theeraphat Prayoonsithi, a high-ranking official who has served as Director-General of the Royal Forestry Department.
“First of all, I must thank all of you for your concern on wildlife and marine animal conservation, and also the social media community that has always been helpful in shining the light on conservation issues. The letter submitted today will be discussed in our meeting and will be presented to the Prime Minister,” Prayoonsithi said.
At around the same time as the delivery of the letter, a reporter asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Government House of Thailand about being served shark fin soup at the banquet. The Prime Minister responded that he had not eaten shark fin, he was busy talking about other matters at the party, and was still hungry when he returned home. He did say though that in the future he will not eat shark fin.
The NGO coalition includes WildAid, Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, Greenpeace Thailand, Nature Play, Freeland Foundation, and Learn Club, Shark Guardian, Love Wildlife Foundation, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and Manta Trust (Thailand).
With Thailand’s status as a significant market and the lack of awareness about shark conservation, WildAid is pushing for a new social norm where Thais consider shark fin socially unacceptable, as well as a new standard where sharks are permanently off the menu.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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