Sun, Jul 03, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Young Asian's eating habits key to saving sharks

Shark's fin soup is a traditional dish at weddings in Chinese communities, but can young people be persuaded to forget antiquated considerations of face and leave it off the menu?

AFP , SINGAPORE

He used to do ad campaigns for clients like consumer products giant Sanyo, diamond producer DeBeers and funeral home Singapore Casket, whose slogan was: "We'll be the last to let you down!"

He believes working for a total ban on finning won't work.

"Shark's fin will only become more expensive. The Mafia will profit, just like drugs," he says, stressing that self-restraint by consumers is the key.

In his campaign to reduce the consumption of shark's fin soup, Aw has largely given up on the older generation of mainland and overseas Chinese, counting on younger people instead to take up his cause.

"I believe in measurable results. Thus I hope to recruit 10,000 young ambassadors for sharks in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and China by 2007."

While Aw bemoans the negative image of sharks since the the 1975 hit movie Jaws, he has called his young children Jonah Aw Seng and Joelle Aw Seng so that letters in their names spell out the title of the film.

He likens shark's fin eating to smoking, and hopes to have the same impact among the youth as successful anti-tobacco campaigns -- although he once did ads for Dunhill cigarettes.

"It is now seen as uncool, unsociable to smoke. I hope to achieve the same kind of behavior change, attitude change towards consuming shark fins."

After years of photographing sharks and other fish in their natural environment, Aw's eating habits have changed, but he is not a fundamentalist in his food choices.

"I don't eat fish, but do enjoy crabs," he says.

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