Marine photographer Michael Aw has a bold dream

By Connie Ruiz,2014-04-16 21:41
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Marine photographer Michael Aw has a bold dream

Marine photographer Michael Aw has a bold dream -- for Singapore to ban shark‟s fin

    by the end of 2013.

The 56-year-old, who will be launching a “No Shark Fins Singapore” nationwide

    Asia Dive Expo at Marina Bay Sands on Friday, hopes to convince all campaign at

    Chinese restaurants to remove shark‟s fin from their menus. He also hopes to convince 50 companies -- hotels and major corporations -- to support the cause.

    Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore earlier this week, he said, “We can do it. Let it be a Singaporean initiative and let us be the first Asian country to do this.”

    Asked why he feels so strongly about the issue, Aw related his experiences as an underwater photographer and scuba diving instructor where he had personally witnessed the depletion of sharks through the years.

“When I first started diving in 1981, there were plenty of sharks -- in Malaysian

    waters, Tioman and even around Raffles Lighthouse in Singapore,” he said. “But in

    the late „80s, there were no more sharks.”

    “Sharks reproduce very, very slowly… it‟s just not possible to sustain the kind of demand that we have for shark‟s fin,” he added.

    Aw described the way that sharks were being culled for their fins and then discarded back into the waters alive as “cruel” and “wastage”.

    “There is absolutely no nutritional value in the fin, and it‟s basically just „fashion‟ more than food. [Actually], it‟s not even food.”

    Aw also stressed that since sharks are already regionally extinct, more effort needs to be pumped into encouraging the conservation of sharks, especially with hundreds being culled daily for their fins.

    “They‟ve very important in the ocean because like the lion or the cheetah of the Savannah, they keep nature in balance”.

Strong online support

    It seems Aw is not the only one who feels so strongly about the issue.

    In January, he started an online petition to encourage Singaporeans to pledge their support for banning shark‟s fin by next year. Within two weeks, the online effort had

    garnered an impressive 80,000 supporters.

When supermarket giants NTUC and Carrefour made the decision to take shark‟s fin

    off their shelves earlier this year, Aw realised “that was the moment” to create an online petition to “take it to the next level”.

“And we went viral within the week,” he added, with a hint of unmistakable pride.

In the time since, Aw has recruited MediaCorp actress and Miss Singapore Universe

2007 Jessica Tan to be the face of his “No shark‟s fin by 2013” campaign.

Underwater photographs of the actress posing with at least 50 sharks at the Bahamas

    taken earlier this year will be unveiled on Friday.

Progressive action plan

    Aw, who hasn‟t eaten shark‟s fin for more than 20 years, stressed that the campaign needs to follow a “progressive action plan” with specific targets.

    Once he has managed to convince Chinese restaurants and at least 50 companies to support his cause, he plans to petition openly for the government to ban shark‟s fin by 2013.

Part of he and five-member team‟s effort involves educating the young about sharks.

He plans to recruit 1,000 kids from the ages of 7 to 14 to assemble at Resorts World

    Sentosa in November to pledge: “I am the future, I won‟t eat shark‟s fin”.

Explained Aw: “The younger generation is the future. If we educate them,

    hopefully … we will [soon] have a generation of non shark‟s fin consumers.”

    Although he proclaimed that he was “101 per cent” confident of his campaign‟s success, he admitted that it would not be easy convincing the relevant authorities to completely ban shark‟s fin in Singapore‟s consumerist market.

    “Sharks do not have a very good reputation. You can‟t protect an animal if you don‟t

     they're not man-eaters.” understand it. We have to promote the true image of sharks --

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