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WildAid Sounds the Alarm: Shark Fin Crisis Grips Thailand's Market

WildAid has revealed concerning findings from a comprehensive DNA analysis of shark fin products sold in Thailand, indicating that around two-thirds (62%) of the sampled fins come from species at risk of extinction. 

The 2023 survey of 1,007 urban Thais, independently conducted by Rapid Asia, highlights the widespread consumption of shark fin, particularly at family gatherings (60%), weddings (57%), and social outings with friends (46%).

shark fin served up on a dish
Shark fin, photo copyright WildAid.

The latest consumer survey indicates a notable 27.5% decrease in shark fin consumption among urban Thais over the past six years. Since the launch of WildAid's #nosharkfin or "Chalong Mai Chalarm" campaign in 2017, there has been a remarkable 47% reduction in those consuming shark fin 2-5 times annually. However, with more than half (56%) of urban Thais still intending to consume shark fin in the future, it underscores Thailand's ongoing role as an active market for shark fin consumption.

Dr. Petch Manopawitr, a conservation scientist and advisor to WildAid, stressed that the survey reveals a significant number of urban Thais still view shark fin consumption as normal. He drew a comparison, likening it to consuming endangered species like tigers or tiger cubs, highlighting the crucial role consumption habits play in the fate of various shark species and the balance of the ecosystem.

testubes in a lab researchjing shark dna
Scientists analyse shark DNA. Photo copyright Pimpakarn

In collaboration with researchers from Thailand's King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) and the Department of Fisheries, WildAid presents a groundbreaking report based on a DNA analysis study of shark fin products in Thailand. Shockingly, the study finds that 62% of the sampled fins originate from shark species at risk of extinction, as classified by the IUCN Red List. This pioneering study, the first of its kind in Thailand, identifies at least 15 unique shark species from 206 fin samples. Among them, three are classified as "Critically Endangered" (CR), four as "Endangered" (EN), and six as "Vulnerable" (VU), highlighting the alarming prevalence of endangered sharks in consumer products.

Globally, one-third of all shark and ray species face the risk of extinction due to overfishing and bycatch. Thailand plays a significant role in the global shark fin trade as a major exporter of low-value, processed shark fins, as per the 2015 FAO Report.

Leveraging the DNA study results, WildAid remains dedicated to raising awareness about the consequences of shark consumption, promoting behavioural change, and collaborating to advance the implementation of the NPOA-Sharks, with the goal of enabling global shark populations to recover and thrive.



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