2014 is set to be a busy year for us all at The Soneva Group. With so many plans underway to improve and enhance the experiences at our resorts, we are sure to never lose sight of our commitment to environmentally responsible tourism. At each and every stage of these projects, there lies the fundamental question of how we interact with our natural surroundings. The experiences at our resorts are intrinsically linked to nature, be it the organic home-grown ingredients on our plate, the locally sourced products in our spa or free diving, the most natural way of discovering the underwater world in one breath.
This month, I announced with great pleasure that one of our resorts, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, will now serve as regional headquarters for the largest worldwide shark conversation campaign, FINished with Fins. FINished with Fins can boast the support of over 100 of Hong Kong's taste makers and opinion leaders, 150 celebrities from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and China. Eva and I are proud to join this group and announce our involvement and support for the campaign.
Jonn Lu, Regional Director, Asia Pacific for Shark Savers, who was instrumental in founding the FINished with Fins movement, flew to the Maldives to sign us up to the cause. We are FINished with shark fin soup, and have pledged our support to help lobby against illegal shark fishing in our local area as well as on a global stage to help recruit other corporations to support shark conservation. So far, we have recruited our in-house marine biologist, Frederica Siena, as well as our Free Diving expert, Ken Kiriyama, to help assist in plans to thwart illegal catchment of sharks by poachers in Maldivian waters.
Back in 2000, our waters were teeming with sharks, however as the years have gone by the shark population has depleted significantly. This led to the Maldivian government commendably introducing a ban on shark fishing in all its waters in 2010. The ban was a great step forward for shark conservation however it only prevented fishermen from hunting sharks up to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) off the atoll coasts. This has led to poachers shark fishing and trading outside of the perimeter. We would like to see the perimeter extended further to make it a lot more difficult for shark fishing and trading to take place and try and put a stop to it once and for all.
Another area where I believe we can help is by partnering with other resorts in the Maldives to work together to say the Maldives travel industry is FINished with Fins. The Maldives epitomises the ultimate in holiday destinations and therefore we have access to a number of influential corporations and holidaymakers who I am sure would be keen to get on board and help protect sharks.
Eva and I have long since been keen activists in lobbying against shark fin culling, but when I met with Jonn Lu from FINished with Fins, I was compelled by his argument and wanted to offer Soneva Fushi as the headquarters. John explained that sharks play a key role in our ocean's food chains; they help keep the world's marine ecosystems balanced. Yet sharks are being depleted worldwide, just to feed the unsustainable demand for shark fin soup. The exponential growth in consumption of shark fin soup is responsible for alarming shark population declines.
I urge you to look into the campaign. Help us protect an animal that is so intrinsic to our ecosystem that their continuing decline in population will have a dramatic on life to us all. Join us to say that you're FINished with Fins!
For more information about the Finished with Fins campaign please visit: www.finishedwithfins.org