14th July 2022 Bangkok, Thailand – In honor of shark awareness day on 14th July, WildAid launched a new video public service announcement (PSA) ‘Sea of Chaos’ in Thailand, highlighting the role of sharks in the ocean and how our consumption of shark fin is disrupting the ocean ecosystems. The video features WildAid’s new voice for sharks, Maria Poonlertlarp, who is also Miss Universe Thailand 2017, an actress, a passionate environmental activist, and diver, alongside ‘Pong’ Nawat Kulrattanarak, Thailand’s superstar and the organization’s intrepid shark ambassador of 5 years.
“Growing up I always feared sharks partly because of the bad PR sharks regularly receive from the media. But when I started scuba diving, I learned about the human-caused threats sharks face and that an ocean without sharks is something to be more fearful of as their disappearance could cause the ocean’s ecosystem to collapse. Teaming up with WildAid is my opportunity to rebrand sharks and help change consumption patterns that endanger our oceans by informing the public that in today’s world, sharks should be kept off the menu and off our tables,” said Maria Poonlertlarp.
The humorous video shows how a CEO’s decision to consume shark fin at a celebratory event could lead to marine animals becoming unhinged leaving the sea in chaos. The storyline of the ‘Sea of Chaos’ PSA is inspired by scientific research conducted in the Caribbean which showed that the disappearance of sharks can have cascading effects, leading to the depletion of the fish that eat algae and keep the coral clean and the eventual deterioration of coral reefs.
“This video is one of WildAid’s many attempts to change societal norms of serving and consuming sharks and inform the public about the importance of sharks so that the choices they make do not lead to chaos in the ocean’s ecosystem. The science is clear, the disappearance of sharks does major damage to ocean’s health and affects the whole marine ecosystem” said Dr. Petch Manopawitr, a conservation scientist and advisor to WildAid’s Thailand program.
WildAid’s 2017 study found more than half of urban Thais have eaten shark fin and most often at celebratory events. Even more alarmingly, 61% planned to consume it in the future. Most recently, a study published in the journal Current Biology found overfishing and the demand for shark and ray products have driven one-third of all shark and ray species toward extinction globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Losing these species would be disastrous as sharks are critical to maintaining the health of the ocean.
‘Sea of Chaos’ is a part of WildAid’s ongoing ‘Celebrate with No Shark Fin’ campaign that launched in 2018 to address and end shark fin consumption at celebratory events, thereby protecting sharks, fisheries, and ocean ecosystems. “Every action matters, we must tell our friends and family about the importance of sharks. You can do your part by starting with something as simple as sharing this video,” said ‘Pong’ Nawat Kulrattanarak.
The initiative ‘Celebrate with No Shark Fin’ is also endorsed by government organizations such as Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and the Department of Fisheries. “While we still have sharks to protect, we need to push for better policies to protect sharks together with informing both the younger and older generations who believe shark fin soup is a luxurious delicacy to keep shark fin off the menu permanently. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources understands and supports the importance of urging the public to stop consuming sharks for the sake of our ocean’s health,” said Sopon Thongdee, Director General, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
“Thailand has no targeted shark fisheries and no specific gear for catching sharks. However, given the importance of sharks in the marine ecosystem, the Department of Fisheries has been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring better management and protection of sharks through implementing Thailand’s ‘National Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks’ (NPOA-Sharks) with stakeholders from all sectors which also includes conducting public awareness campaigns on the importance of the animals. Our collaboration with WildAid is one of our solutions to better protect sharks,” said Chalermchai Suwannarak , Director General, Thailand’s Department of Fisheries.
In the coming weeks, the video public service announcement and campaign message will be widely distributed throughout the country through digital and offline media platforms. WildAid will host a series of webinars, launch a special online program in partnership with the Daily Show program on ONE HD 31’s social media platform, and place campaign advertisements in prominent locations across Thailand through partnerships with TV channels and Thailand’s leading outdoor media service providers, including Bangkok Metro Networks Limited (BMN), Plan B Media, and JCDecaux.
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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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