May 30, 2008

Sentosa Resorts World to shark's fins: "no, but..."

full media reports on wildsingapore news

Shark's fin will be off the Resorts World Sentosa menu, but ...

High rollers can still get their dish and eat it too — the Chinese delicacy will be available on request at the integrated resorts’ private gaming rooms, said Ms Krist Boo, RWS’ head of communications. For business’ sake, “we will never say no to a high roller, but we will try to educate and persuade them”, she said, adding that alternatives like scallops and lobsters would be available.

'We did our sums and we cannot say no to the high-rollers. But we felt at least 90 per cent of what might normally be served will be done away with if we take it off the menu,' Ms Boo said.

Krist Boo, Resorts World at Sentosa, said: "In the private gaming rooms, if a high roller asks for shark's fin, we will serve it and that's a business decision."
So ostensibly, shark's fins will still be served at Resorts World Sentosa and shark's fins will be stocked in their kitchen, because Resorts World Sentosa has done "their sums".

Will Resorts World Sentosa say 'no' to sharks and other marine life in their exhibits? From the Resorts World Sentosa website
With 700,000 fishes in 20 million gallons of water, the Marine Life Park will be the world’s largest oceanarium.Our first-ever oceanarium programme will let guests admire the dolphins going about their natural behavioral activities, as well as dive with and feed menacing 4-meter long tiger sharks. A wading pool for children allows close interaction with curious fishes and an introduction to the wonderful but depleting coral reefs in the oceans.
In addition, the Resorts World Sentosa website includes this statement
The acquisition of animals for the Marine Life Park will be done in full compliance with international standards which, in this case, are standards set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
From the CITES website, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are listed on Appendix II. What does this mean? From How CITES works
An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is required.

An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.

A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the Convention.

In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.

No import permit is needed unless required by national law.

In the case of specimens introduced from the sea, a certificate has to be issued by the Management Authority of the State into which the specimens are being brought, for species listed in Appendix I or II.
While few dolphins are listed in CITES, Universal Studios has distanced itself from reports that it was involved in the use of live dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa. New Zealand has banned the import or capture of live dolphins, forcing realignment of purpose of at least one aquarium.

Resorts World Sentosa today launched a 'marine conservation' programme:
To boost marine research, conservation and education, RWS also launched the RWS Marine Life Fund, which will sponsor efforts of researchers, non-governmental organisations as well as students aged 10 to 18.

Entirely funded by RWS, whose parent company is Genting International, the fund will “start small” with up to $100,000 given out this year and next, said Ms Boo. When the resort opens in two years’ time, annual funding will be increased to $1 million.

A quarter of the fund will be set aside for school projects, and there is no cap on applied funding. Applications for $20,000 or less will be assessed by an RWS committee, while those seeking more than $20,000 will also be assessed by an independent reviewer, such as a conservation agency.

Groups from around the world may apply while details have not been firmed up, Ms Boo said. All factors being equal, a project closer to home would probably be given more priority.

Although RWS’ oceanarium drew objections from nature groups when announced two years ago, RWS hopes that through the Marine Life Fund, a group of young volunteers for the oceanarium can eventually be formed.

Together with its move to keep shark's fin off its menus, the resort has also launched a Marine Life Fund as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

It has set aside some US$70,000 (SGD$100,000) for 2008 and 2009 to fund research and conservation efforts, and up to US$700,000 a year when the resort opens in 2010.

A quarter of the fund will be reserved for school projects with a marine conservation theme.

The RWS Marine Life Fund will disburse up to S$100,000 each year in 2008 and 2009, and up to S$1 million each year from 2010 when the Resort opens.

'We hope to see some good applications for the Marine Life Fund. What's exciting for us is that this fund is not reserved only for established conservation groups, but it has a pocket solely devoted to kids,' said RWS's Communications head Krist Boo.

'We hope it will encourage children to learn about the ocean, and to love it. The online application process is easy for all.'

To encourage and cultivate an interest for the oceans, besides researchers and NGOs, the Fund is also open to schoolchildren. 25 per cent of this Fund will be set aside for kids working on school projects related to marine conservation. There is no cap on the applied funding, and projects could span anything from fieldwork to classroom models. All applications will be assessed by a RWS committee which oversees the Fund, and for applications for funding above $20,000, an independent reviewer will be included in the assessment.
An aspect of Resorts World Sentosa's 'conservation efforts' highlighted in Resorts World Sentosa's press release was coral relocation:
In 2006, RWS undertook the initiative to relocate corals and other marine life around the northern coastline affected by reclamation works that were carried out as part of the Resort’s construction. To preserve a part of Singapore’s natural marine heritage, the affected corals were moved to the Southern Islands, and are now thriving in their new homes.
Let's recall that the reclamation destroyed the majority of the reef there.
Flashback to the relocation details...
Despite trying to "save as much as possible," DHI estimates some two-thirds of the corals will be sacrificed.

In the Southern Islands, the corals will be tagged, and their health and status will be monitored over 12 months. The survival rate of relocated corals in Singapore is about 80 to 90 per cent.
It's a pity Resorts World Sentosa did not consider integrating the existing reefs into their plans and thus avoid 'sacrificing' them in the first place.

Since the relocated corals are "thriving", perhaps it's time to ask for a formal update on their status?

Does the public have a right to know? On 22 Aug 07, Sentosa informed me that "On the viewing of the coral monitoring reports, as this is a private project, the reports will not be made available to the public. However, the information can be made available upon request, on a case-by-case basis."

Since Resorts World Sentosa considers the relocated corals "a part of Singapore’s natural marine heritage" can it be "a private project"?

Links to more about the reclamation for Resorts World Sentosa

1 comment:

Kevin At Oceana said...

Simply taking Shark fin soup off the menu does not solve the problem. The fact that it is offered at all drives fishermen to continue to catch sharks just for their fins. From 26-73 million sharks a year are landed by fishermen, brought on deck and then have their fins cut off before being thrown helplessly back into the ocean. Until the market is eliminated the illegal fishing will continue. You can find out more about what dangers sharks are facing here: