Thursday, February 14, 2013

Launch of the 'Get Sharks Off the Hook' campaign

See and Sea's 'Get Sharks Off The Hook' is a campaign to raise awareness about the declining number of sharks in the Andaman Sea. Sharks are not just essential for a balanced marine ecosystem but also are pivotal to the balance of the whole Earth's ecosystem. More detail can be found at .

Starting with a focus on restaurants in Khao Lak, the campaign aims to promote restaurants that do not serve shark, encouraging them to join and providing them with posters for the restaurant summarise the aims and reasons behind the campaign, hence raising awareness about the issue. 

A couple of us from GVI spent an afternoon helping out on the campaign by visiting about 10 restaurants in Khao Lak to encourage them to join Get Sharks Off The Hook. The idea is that, by joining & promoting the campaign, tourists - many of whom are divers - would prefer to eat there than in a restaurant that did not support the campaign. 

The language barrier in a couple of cases was evident. Two "farang" (foreigners) somewhat lacking Thai on the shark subject ("shallam" as we later found out), purposefully walking into restaurants with no intention of eating there (apart from a quick glance at their menus to see if shark was being served) was enough to frighten a couple of young non-English speaking Thai girls back into the depths of their restaurant!

Three, possibly four, cases were successful, however, whose managers were extremely enthusiastic about signing up and receiving a poster to promote their shark friendly restaurant - great news!

Then there were the refusals....
Restaurant: 'No because we are a steak house'
Us: 'Yes that's good, you can still support!'
Restaurant: 'No, no, we can have no paper on our restaurant' 

Waiter: 'No we do not serve shark here. Ok, I will go see my manager.'
Manager: 'No we don't serve shark. I will go see the owner' (somewhere in the back...) 'No we don't want to join.'
Us: 'Oh ok, why, just out of curiosity?'
Manager: 'We're not sure. Maybe sometimes we serve shark.'
Right... the...
'No we don't serve shark, we don't serve shark. But no we don't want to join'.
Reasons were obvious once we stepped out of the restaurant to see shark steak with mushrooms advertised on the A-board outside...

So, from those few restaurants we visited we could see that
1) great, some restaurants are very willing to join
2) we will have even more successes with some Thai to explain the campaign and avoid frightening young waitresses! and
3) shark is being served in possibly more restaurants in Khao Lak than we may have initially thought. 

Sarah Taylor, Conservation volunteer

Thanks Sarah :-) It's early days yet and we have a lot more work to do, but we're really excited to be helping out See & Sea on their brilliant initiative - awesome work guys!
Find out more by visiting their website and do your bit - wherever you are in the world, check the menu before you sit down in a restaurant; if they serve shark, politely tell them that you would prefer to eat somewhere which does not have shark on their menu. Every little counts - together we can all make a difference.