Singaporeans have a thing for trends and crazes. We tend to have month-long whirlwind courtships with a certain hyped up item or dish and then we drop it faster than last season Jimmy Choos in favour of the new Manolo Blahniks. Consider the bubble tea craze which turned into something more of a long-standing love affair. More recently, the nasi lemak burger originating from McDonalds spawned multiple prototypes popping out at various eateries, all riding on the one minute of fame they were granted.
These crazes are all good and fine, it’s practically a defining trait of Singaporeans. However, while this is the case, we also have to bear in mind as well that there are some things that we cannot simply 'lose interest in'. This ranges from social issues to environmental conservation to the health of the world's ecosystem. These are not things we can afford to be excited about one moment and at the next, decide that it's too much effort.
In light of the upcoming Asia Diving Expo shining the spotlight once again on sharks, let's have a throwback to 2012 when SharkSavers launched an intense campaign of “I’m FINished with fins” in a bid to save the sharks. Cue a series of billboard ads, radio commercials and a slew of local celebrities urging the public to swear off shark fin. Multiple companies pledged off shark fin as did a substantial proportion of the public.
Image Source: http://www.marketing-interactive.com/its-okay-to-say-no-gallery/
Mission accomplished, easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?
Yet many breeds of shark have experienced close to a 90% drop in population in the last few decades or so alone. Following that trajectory, it’s easy to project that in a couple more decades, our planet may see a loss of sharks altogether.
Image Source: http://www.sharksavers.org/en/education/sharks-are-in-trouble/the-impact-of-the-shark-fin-trade/
So why is it that the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) 2018 has dedicated this year's convention to sharks? The longest running and biggest dive expo in Asia annually shines a light on marine issues, ranging from turtles to climate change just last year. For ADEX 2018 to be focusing on sharks suggest that though the shark-saving fervour has died down in recent years, there is still much to be done to save the soon-to-be-extinct-in-a-few-decades predator.
In fact, a statistic horrifying enough to induce shame that rivals that of your failed New Year resolutions, is that Singapore is the third largest trader of shark fin in the world. What happened, you may ask?
A 2016 survey saw that 82% of Singaporeans asked would be cool with a shark fin alternative at a banquet and more than 50% had not had shark fin in the past year. Sadly, it has come to a point where saying no to that bowl of shark fin at so-and-so’s wedding isn’t cutting it anymore.
Sharks are still being massacred at a rate they cannot replace and certain breeds risk extinction. They are highly difficult to farm and at the speed with which sharks are being fished out as food, they won’t be around much longer.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has also found that 75% of surveyed Singaporeans feel as though the government needs to make changes to its shark fin policy for there to be significant change for the sharks. This sentiment is shared by WWF-Singapore, in that trading hubs like Singapore are as critical as source and demand countries in finding a global solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade.
You might be thinking, “If this is something only a government policy can fix, I won’t be able to make much of a difference by myself.” You’re wrong. In an age where social media gives power to the masses, every voice matters in creating a resonating impact that has a lasting positive change.
So rattle your jewellery, bang your tables, make some noise and spread the word. Put saving the sharks on your friends’ dashboards and make this cause visible. Show that this is a cause worth having, and more importantly, worth remembering.
If you don’t know what you can do for the sharks, take a look at websites like http://www.sharksavers.org/en/home/ or http://www.wwf.sg/get_involved/say_no_shark_fin/.
Alternatively, head down to ADEX 2018 for more information about what we can or dare I say, must do, in order to make sure we don’t make a mistake like we did with the Dodo birds and the West African Black Rhinoceros not so long ago.
ADEX Singapore 2018
Date: 6 – 8 April
Venue: Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre Halls 401-405
For more information visit https://www.adex.asia/about-adex-2018/