Ex-beauty queen to front anti-shark’s fin campaign

Jeff Oon
Singapore Showbiz

Miss Singapore Universe 2007 Jessica Tan was unveiled as the face of the "No Shark Fins Singapore" campaign at the Asia Dive Expo on Friday.

Speaking to Yahoo! Singapore after the event, Tan said: "I hope Singapore will be the very first Asian country to support this cause. I really hope for this campaign to be a success."

Initiated by marine photographer Michael Aw in January, the campaign calls for Singaporeans to pledge their support to say "no" to shark's fin through an online petition -- which has since garnered over 80,000 supporters.

Explaining the need to take action, Aw said: "For the good of our oceans and future generations, change must come from within."

"Being a prominent economy in the heart of Asia, Singapore should take the lead as a socially responsible country to be the first in Asia to make this happen," he added.

'I'm a big animal lover'

Being a big animal lover and a certified diver since 2009, Tan needed little persuasion to front the campaign when Aw approached her late last year.

"I've personally seen carcasses of sharks without fins [when I'm diving], and that's when you really realise the plight of sharks. Seeing them up-close really affects you emotionally," she said.

Tan, who hasn't eaten shark's fin since 2007, also said she has witnessed poachers culling sharks for their fins on several of her diving expeditions. "It really gets you really worked up… and I would love to be part of the effort in stopping them," she said.

According to "No Shark Fins Singapore", between 75 to 100 million of sharks are killed every year due to the increasing demand for shark's fin soup.

Thus, Aw hopes to convince all Chinese restaurants and at least 50 companies to remove shark's fin from their menus and corporate events by 2013.

So far, non-profit organisations such as WWF Singapore, Fauna and Flora International, IUCN and Shark Research Institute have shown their support for the cause.

Related story: Will Singapore be the first Asian country to ban shark's fin?