Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy

After around a month of wrangling, Disney has at last agreed not to offer shark fin soup at Hong Kong Disneyland. (news on 25 June 2005. I'm keeping this thread, partly as may be of interest as record of the arguments against serving shark fin soup (Disney mustered only feeble arguments in favour); there is plenty of info relevant to broader campaign, aiming to get shark fin soup off menus everywhere.

Here are two emails I've received, which have been sent to Disney executives including Michael Eisner re reported plans to include shark's fin soup on banquet menu.

Dear Mr Eisner, I was more than a little upset to find reported (http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GE18Ak03.html[/url]) that it is planned to serve shark fin soup at banquets in the Hong Kong Disneyland. Could I say that I think this is a mistake of the highest order, no matter that such soup is perceived as prestigious by some consumers, from whom you simply wish to make money, I suppose. Shame on you. Frankly, I find it surprising that you should be unaware of the issue, it having received wide publicity over many years.

On the other hand, I am frequently astounded by people's resistance to doing the right thing - as you can tell from correspondence documented here: http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin.html[/url] - and links contained therein, although we have had some notable success in reversing such bad decisions, as you will see. I would be delighted it if we can add your change of heart to that page. Otherwise, we can only encourage everyone to boycott Disney globally, pointing out crass and cynical profiteering. What makes it far worse, of course, is the fact that Disney makes a big point of espousing conservation and environmental awareness and protection. Certainly, from http://corporate.disney.go.com/environmentality/index.html[/url] we read that 'As Jiminy says, "Every little bit makes a big difference," reminding each person that we all play a critical role in promoting Environmentality. '

And your policy ( http://corporate.disney.go.com/environmentality/environmental_policy.htm... ) says, inter alia: Laws and Regulations Make every effort to understand and adhere to, not only the spirit, but the letter of environmental laws and regulations. Work to identify issues that may not yet be identified in the law, but could result in adverse environmental effects. Strive to exceed required levels of compliance wherever feasible. - which all suggests that your public heart is in the right place.

Oddly enough, the "Environmentality" link for http://disney.go.com/disneyhand/environmentality/index.html on the side bar on http://disney.go.com/disneyhand/environmentality/dwcf_organizations.html is broken - perhaps reflective of the company's attitude internally? There is no doubt, as judged by global scientific consensus, that sharks are in trouble. You are, quite overtly and directly contributing to their demise. I will not rehearse the voluminous evidence, the harrowing effects, and the ghastly future prospects, but should you need I will be happy to provide this material. No doubt others will be doing this anyway.

Could I suggest a more positive approach? Admit that it was an error, remove shark fin soup from all menus, advertise the fact - and why. Turn it to educational and PR advantage. Or would you rather be seen to be trying to profit shamelessly in a classic example of internal contradiction? After all, if MasterCard and Cathay Pacific can do it, so can you. I look forward to hearing from you soon, and a prompt change in the menu in HK - and elsewhere in the world if other sites serve shark fin at present. Many thanks, BWD Prof. Brian W. Darvell Reader in Dental Materials Science, The University of Hong Kong

To: Mr. Michael Eisner, Chief Executive Officer, Disney World, Hong Kong. Dear Mr Eisner, Earthcare and her members were surprised at your recent promotion of the expensive banquets and the menu that would cause adverse consequences to the already depleting ocean resources. Earthcare and international groups have been working hard to stop the wasteful and cruel practices of live sharks finning for years.

Nowadays, advanced corporations put "Corporate Social Reponsibility" and "Ethical issues" high up on their agenda. Recent reports of local newspaper about your plans to serve shark fin soup at banquets in the Hong Kong Disneyland are not socially responsible/ethical acts. As part of your proposed plan is to attract both local and Mainland Chinese customers, no doubt, it is of utmost importance that you do not give the wrong message to some Mainland Chinese people who may not be alerted to the shark fin issue.

As the shark fin issue had received wide publicity over many years, we hope that Disney would not just pay lip service to the principles of conservation and environmental awareness and protection. In fact, this is the best opportunity to tell the world and people from both Hong Kong and Mainland China that sharks and ocean resources are in plight. I look forward to hearing from you soon for a positive remedial action about the issue.

Yours sincerely, NG Wai Yee Director Earthcare



Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/06/25 15:55

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SCM Post this morning reports that Disney is defiant over shark's fin soup issue; spokeswoman quoted as saying:

Hong Kong Disneyland takes environmental stewardship very seriously and we are equally sensitive to the local cultures. It is customary for Chinese restaurants and five-star hotels to serve shark's fin soup in Hong Kong, as the dish is considered an integral part of Chinese banquets. At Hong Kong Disneyland, shark's fin soup will only be served to our guests at private functions on special request.
So, how does taking environmental stewardship very seriously square with serving a soup made from the fins of threatened species (many sharks are in decline) - which are cut from the living animals, which are tossed back into the water to die horrible deaths? (A friend who's a wildlife cameraman told me of diving in Galapagos, and seeing two sharks that had just had fins cut off swimming in circles round bottom of a bay; with no fins, they can't control movement, so will die.) Instead of sensitivity, smacks of callous corporate greed. Yes, many restaurants do serve this soup in HK - I believe they're very wrong too. But from company espousing family friendly image, making films including Shark Tale, and involved in Finding Nemo, shouldn't we expect something better - some corporate courage, perhaps? For more re shark's fin soup and conservation, see The">http://www.scdc.org.hk/]The Great Shark Fin Debate from South China Diving Club, and WildAid">http://www.wildaid.org/index.asp?CID=72&PID=262&SUBID=275]WildAid's Shark Campaign.

Dear Mr. Robinson,

It has come to my attention that the Disneyland Hong Kong is offering shark fin as part of its Fary Tale Wedding banquet promotion.

Your effort to offer shark fin to the local Chinese is certainly understandable, but I would like to query the image you are portraying to patrons visiting your theme park from overseas, and also those westerners residing in Hong Kong SAR and Asia Pacific.

Please let me respectfully suggest that offering shark fin may actually be counterproductive to the long-term image of Disney - locally, regionally and more importantly internationally. Recent campaigns against MasterCard, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Citibank and Singapore Airlines have all resulted in them retracting any shark fin promotional advertising or consumption offers, with global responsive pressure being an incredible persuasive factor.

In recent years, the scientific and conservation communities have come to understand that the shark fin trade is a major contributor to an unsustainable decline in many of the world’s shark populations. The explosion of the Asian shark fin trade, particularly in countries with Chinese cultures, is promoting a worldwide gold rush to cash in on the high price for shark fins.

Unfortunately, the result is quite clear: Sharply decreased shark populations, with knock on detrimental effects to entire ecosystems and the livelihoods of fishermen and tour operators worldwide.

Sharks are unlike most fish, in that there are not too many to begin with (since they are top predators just like people), they reproduce very slowly (tens of years before most sharks are sexually mature and can begin to reproduce), and they have very few offspring (a few each birth cycle at most, unlike other fish which may spawn by the millions).

As a result, people all over the world have come to realise that the demand for shark fin needs to be brought under control. Moreover, there is no nutritional value in shark fin, and there is also a high incidence of mercury and accumulation of other toxins in shark fin samples. The concern over this issue is growing rapidly and is spread equally among Asian, western and other nations.

As a global icon to many children and adults, Disney has the opportunity to set an example for other corporations. By selecting shark fin as a means of $$ attraction, you are conveying the message that Disney endorses ecologically unsound practices and unsustainable industries. While this is most probably not the case, it is certainly the understanding that will spread rapidly around the world via email and the internet - under the voice of shark conservation.

As a potential future visitor to Disneyland Hong Kong, I ask that you revisit this topic, and reconsider alternative, less harmful, ingredients for wedding banquets at Disney; ordinary soup will suffice. I would also ask that you consider responding soon to those already concerned by your wedding banquet display and constructive people from around the world who have attempted to explain the issue and offer you more substantive data to support the statements above.

On another note I have just finished presenting a talk at David Li Ka Shing HKMA School where 100+ students listened to a compelling lecture and watched a shark finning film; If you would like detailed information or more material to explain to staff & guests the reason for removing shark fin from the wedding menu then please let me know. I assure you my patronage (and many others) will change should Disney act decisively over this sensitive issue.

Thank you for your attention, and I hope that you will take this correspondence in the constructive manner that it is intended.

With regards,
Charles Frew, MSc

[Don Robinson is HK Disneyland group managing director - Martin]

Post edited by: Martin, at: 2005/05/24 22:27

Yahoo News item: Shark fin lands Hong Kong's Disneyland in the soup

forbes . com, Daily Telegraph, BBC">http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4574401.stm]BBC News (online), Los Angeles Times among media Google News is finding today with reports on HK Disneyland offering shark's fin soup.

[color=#008000]I can NOT believe that even Disney (whom I don't respect anyway) would stoop so low as to put something on their menu that involves catching endangered sharks, slicing off their fins and chucking them back in again to starve to death (they can't swim or hunt) I live in DB, and Disneyland is being built right across the water from where I live, ruining the view. Disney has built its great "kingdom" on reclaimed land, where endangered pink dlophins are rumoured to hunt. Disney also plans to have fireworks every night, which will be noisy and send all kinds of fumes into the air, no doubt harming a few birds along the way, as they'll be forced to breathe in polluted air... it is evident that Disney, despite its claims, does not care at all for nature, whether trees, birds, dolphins or sharks. Is Disneyland worth 5 billion dollars if all it does is to destroy HK's environment? PS. How did I find this website? I have to write an essay for school on some food-related concern, decided on Shark's Fin Soup, typed "shark fin soup wrong" into Google, and found this site. I am glad I did because now I know just how incredibly cruel and cold-hearted this supposedly fun, friendly company is. DISNEYLAND IS BEING BUILT IN HONG KONG. PEOPLE IN HONG KONG SHOULD HAVE A SAY IN WHAT IT DOES!!! SPEAK OUT, EVERYBODY OUT THERE!!![/color]

Heard today that US Consulate has reportedly phoned someone involved in arguing against HK Disneyland serving shark's fin soup, asking re next moves. Hmm... black helicopters out next?

[i]South China Morning Post[/i] had article on shark's fin trade today. In it, defenders of Disney position arguing they are following local culture/tradition - which may seem fine, but traditions/cultures do change as societies change; this is a pitiful argument to put against cruel, wasteful, unnecessary practice that's impacting shark populations (and marine ecology) - especially when Disney supposedly supports environmental issues.
Mentioned re host serving shark's fin for "face".

Dr Brian Darvell, of first email quoted in this thread, has received this:

[quote]Dear Dr. Darvell,
My name is Matthew Smith, from Flint, Michigan. The reason I am sending this Email is that I have recently read about Disney and their irresponsibilty with respect to conservation by proposing to serve shark fin soup in Hong Kong. I, my wife Rana, and a large group of friends and family were planning on a week trip to DisneyWorld in Florida. After explaining about Disney and Eisner's attitude towards the issue we have changed plans not only to go to another resort, but also encourage other organizations that offer group travel to Disney resorts not to do so. It would be greatly appreciated if you had an address or email that I could contact at Disney to tell them about our concerns and why we have changed our plans and asked for a full refund on our trip. Each and every member of the group will be contacting Disney and any help you can offer would be appreciated.
Thank You from a fellow supporter,
Matt Smith[/quote]

With google today, came across article from xinhuanet, re sharks' containing pollutants including mercury:
[url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-05/21/content_2982721.htm]Shark fin may cause sterility[/url]
- while doesn't mention the conservation message, this does seem another reason why shark fin soup might not be the best dish for a wedding banquet.

Post edited by: Martin, at: 2005/05/28 17:48

HK Standard, which first helped land Disney in the soup, has further reports, including: Disney">http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Front_Page/GE23Aa01.html]Disney urged not to serve shark fin soup and: Disney">http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GE25Ak01.html]Disney ducks shark attacks Latter mentions:

Kym Murphy, senior vice president of corporate environmental policy for Disney, sits on the Board of Trustees for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, an American marine protection organization
- it would be interesting to learn what the foundation thinks of this issue. An email just in:
Dear Mr Eisner, Since Sylvia Hui's editorial in The STANDARD on 18 May 2005 - "Disneyland weddings for the young and wealthy..The menus feature traditional Chinese banquet delicacies such as roast suckling pig, shark's fin soup and sliced abalone", you would have received hundreds of pleas at a global level to remove the gruesome item from the menu. We are disappointed at the response or lack there of to the issue; it is apparent that shortsightedness or plain ignorance from your banquet and PR staff. By promoting and offering shark fins soup, DISNEYLAND is seen as supporting the culling of sharks, eventually causing their extinction in the world's oceans. Imagine shark fins to be the hand and legs of Mickey Mouse; chop them off and throw the lame struggling body of Mickey on the side walk to die a slow painful death!. That is how sharks are harvested from the world's oceans. Please consider the following: 1. In the minute it takes you to read this letter almost 200 sharks will have their fins removed while still alive and thrown back into the sea to die. Shark experts estimate that 100 million sharks are slaughtered each year for their fins. 2. Shark fin is tasteless and has no nutritional value - they are cartilage, just like your fingernails and hair. 3. It is Cruel to consume shark fin - it is akin to chopping legs off cow and throwing them back into the field and allowing them to bleed to death. 4. Because of the demand from Asia, fishermen from Galapagos are now pushing for wholesale revisions to the fishing statute by demanding a year-round fishing calendar, use of long-line fishing, a lifting of the prohibition on shark fishing. In this respect, the Asian culture are threatening to destroy one of the most unique and fragile eco-systems remaining on this planet. 5. Sharks reproduce very slowly and we are killing them faster than they can replace themselves. Sharks have slow growth rates and do not reach sexual maturity for years. It takes a whale shark 25 years to reproduce. For hammerheads and Tiger sharks it takes 15 years. Once sexually mature sharks have long gestation periods with the embryo developing in the mother for up to two years. 6. Sharks are vanishing from our world's oceans very quickly - the demand for shark fin soup in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China is primarily responsible the peril of sharks globally - some 100 million animals are killed every year just for their fins. To conserve sharks and the preserve the species, we must address the issue at the heart of the problem; we must reduce the demand for shark fins in Asia. Since 2001, OceanNENvironment and Asian Geographic have launched the 'Say No to Shark Fins" Campaign on an annual basis targeting at young couples and children. Instead of supporting conservation, DISNEYLAND HONG KONG is now contributing to the extinction of sharks, promoting cruelty and wastefulness to children and young adults. Since many shark species are protected, DISNEY is therefore seen as encouraging the sale and consumption of endangered species. In this aspect DISNEY is promoting to children and young people a message that cruelty and exploitation of animals is acceptable. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. We respectfully suggest the following actions: Admit the shortsightedness and instead support the conservation of sharks by removing shark fins soup from wedding banquet and replace with other more sustainable delicacies. Since 2002, OceanNEnvironment and Asian Geographic have produced a card/letter package " WHY WE ARE NOT SERVING SHARK FINS SOUP TONIGHT?" for couples to distribute at their wedding dinner - perhaps you may wish to consider this as an option - by doing this DISNEYLAND and prospective wedding couples will be seen as intelligent, eco savvy most importantly contributing to the preservation of our ocean environment. I trust that you will respond expediently. Imagine the next edition of Asian Geographic with Mickey Mouse struggling in agony without his arms and legs on the cover. Get the picture? Michael AW Chairman, OceanNEnvironment Australia Publisher, Asian Geographic : Scuba Diver Australasia: Underwater Channel Publisher Asian Geographic Magazine Scuba Diver Australasia http://www.asiangeographic.org[/url] http://www.scubadiveraustralasia.com[/url]

FINS magazine ("Asia's best scuba diving publication") has an online poll: Disneyland Hong Kong announced it will be promoting shark fin soup. Disneyland also claims it promotes wildlife conservation. What do you think?

Wonder what the Disney execs make of all the emails; another here:

[quote]Subject: : Shark Fin Soup at Disneyworld - open letter from
OceanNEnvironment Australia
Importance: High

Attention:
Mr. Michael Eisner
Chief Executive Officer, Disney World,

Dear Mr Eisner,

That Disney World, Hong Kong has shark fin soup on its wedding banquet
menu is simply unacceptable. If the devastating facts about the losing
battle sharks are fighting to stay alive do not convince you to remove
this senseless item from your menu, then perhaps the fact that you are
making a mockery out of the Disneyland Company and a hypocrite out of
Walt himself will.

When it comes to the environment Disney's stance has always been clear,
"from inception, the Walt Disney Company has been dedicated to
protecting our environment through conservation." And with $6 million
from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund going to more than 200
projects it is undeniable that the company does have an "attitude and
commitment to think and act with the environment in mind."

That is until you decided to put shark fin soup on the menu, endorsing
this nutrition-less meal and in doing so contributing to the cruel
slaughter and eventual extinction of sharks. You obviously do not have
an attitude and commitment to think and act with the environment in mind
if you would willingly help remove this apex predator from our oceans.
Who knows what the ramifications on the ecosystem their disappearance
will have. The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund may as well put the 21%
of the money that goes to marine projects somewhere else, because once
we have slaughtered all the sharks, will the ocean ever be the same?

And poor old Jiminy Cricket, how could you make such a mockery of him
and the thousands of children in Hong Kong that take part in Disney's
Environmental Challenge. How would these primary school children feel if
they knew that the very company that honours them as 'environmental
heroes' could not stick to their own pledge to act environmentally in
the community?

The only thing you seem dedicated to is perpetuating the cultural value
of shark fin soup. So this delicacy has been eaten at weddings in Hong
Kong for years.who cares? Isn't Disneyland a culture all of its own
where kids and kids at heart go to escape the real world? Don't you
advertise these functions as "Disney's fairly tale weddings?" If it is a
fairytale, why do you have to abide by the cultural norms of any
country?

If this is not excuse enough to not have it on the menu, instead of
serving this soup you could give your bride and groom
OceanNEnvironment's 'why we are not serving shark fin soup tonight'
cards to give out to all their guests. In doing so both you and your
guests would be acting intelligently with the environment in mind.
Cultures change, all it takes is the courage and determination of a few
to take a stand. But perhaps this courage is just not in you.

Walt Disney himself said, "Conservation.is a science whose principles
are written in the oldest code in the world, the laws of nature." How is
it that you can go against this old code?

He also said, "the natural resources of our vast continent are not
inexhaustible," and he was right, each year more that 100 million sharks
are slaughtered. This culling is occurring faster than sharks can
reproduce. They simply can not keep up.

And on a closing note, "but if we will use our riches wisely, if we will
protect our wildlife.these things will last us for generations to come."
Oh how Walt must be turning in his grave.

Shame on you.

Gillian Fagan
Press Officer
OceanNEnvironment Australia
[/quote]

[url=http://www.bite-back.com/]Bite-Back[/url] is a site on Shark and Marine Conservation;
has a counter for number of sharks killed this year (based on averages I assume) - stands at 41,753,326 and rising fast as I post this.

from Brian Darvell: [quote]There are many shark conservation organizations out there. You might like to see http://www.sharktrust.org/[/url] and http://www.sharks.org/news/050518.htm[/url] The English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong, through their Enviroment Committee have picked this up. Children will now be debating the apparent attitude of Disney, the role of unsustainable traditions in a changing world, and the conservation of sharks. 

IUCN Resolution 3.116 refers to the practice of shark finning and recommends means to promote the sustainable management of shark fisheries; encouraging diners to question the sustainability of fin harvest for soup; and to encouraging consumers to make responsible dining choices. The US accepted this resolution.

The HK Government ... has been remarkably quiet. This is not a surprise since it has yet to work out where it stands on such issues. On the one hand, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has a number of roles, including: Nature Conservation and Country Parks Aim The aim is to conserve flora, fauna and natural habitats, including marine habitats; to manage country parks, special areas, marine parks and marine reserves; and to control the international trade in endangered species of animals and plants in Hong Kong. But then, they have "a view to maximising yields" as part of their primary function.

Curiously, the "Endangered Species Advisory Committee" has as a "Non-official Member", one Mr. CHIU Ching-cheung, who is - Chairman, Sharks Fin Trade Merchants Association - Committee Member, Sharkfin and Marine Products Association Ltd - Proprietor, Kwong Cheung (Shark's Fin) Does he have specialist knowledge about endangered species? I wonder whether we can expect impartial, unbiased advice from him. Are there no rules about conflict of interest?

On the other hand, the HK Tourist Board promotes the consumption of shark fin soup at every opportunity, denies that advertising in this way is promotion, and refuses to accept that it is instrumental in contributing to this destructive fishery. http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin.html[/url] The Funnies http://www.mickeynews.com/News/DisplayPressRelease.asp_Q_id_E_5295Soup[/... A legislator for the catering industry and the president of a restaurant trade group have backed Disney, saying it is being unfairly pilloried and would be a "laughing stock" if it did not offer the dish. Tommy Cheung, the legislator representing Hong Kong's catering sector, said: "I don't believe sharks are an endangered species. Some species of shark may be, but not all shark's fin comes from certain species. There are a lot of species that are plentiful. I am not aware why people are making so much fuss about Disney.

Many restaurants are serving shark's fin, so why pick on Disney?" Cheung said it was unreasonable to expect the theme park to offer Chinese banquets without offering the dish. "Chinese tradition is that you put shark's fin on the table," he said. "If you don't, you are not respecting the guests you invite. It is a matter of face." David Ng, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said that people holding wedding banquets could be made to seem a "laughing stock" if they did not offer shark's fin. "This is the traditional culture of Chinese people, and you can't say it is right or it is wrong," he said. "No Chinese banquet would be complete without shark's fin soup. It is a dish that dates back maybe hundreds of years. You must treat your guests properly," he said. There are several issues here that require a response.

So, both Disney and wedding couples would be a "laughing stock" if shark fin was not available? Not only are you to be decried for failing to serve the chicken soup with bits in, you are to be laughed at as being seriously out of touch with the economic and cultural reality of Hong Kong. The logic of this is difficult to follow. The point seems to be that if one professes care for the environment and conservation one is somehow not reasonable or respectful. I was under the impression it was the reverse. One is meant therefore to uphold an iconic dish as showing respect when the icon stands for mutilation, suffering, waste, failure to propagate, conspicuous consumption, profiteering and crime - without even mentioning conservation. If this is the icon for the marriage that is being celebrated, it will be a sad life indeed. Surely, it is showing more respect for one's guests not to serve endangered species and avoid causing them embarassment? Surely, Disney and wedding parties will be applauded warmly and gain face for standing firm on principles in the face of irrational exhortations to be otherwise.

A further point is the long-established Chinese respect for and seeking after balance with nature. Is that not the point of Feng Shui, of Yin and Yang and cosmic harmony? Is this to be discarded like the shark's body for the sake of a few moments of enjoyment of chicken soup and vinegar? Oh, and it is unfair to single out Disney? Of course, how careless of me. The point is that this example was so egregious that it could not be ignored, but that does not mean we do not sicken every time we see these fins displayed or the menu so embellished. Perhaps we should start a collection of names of hotels, restaurants, cruise liners, banks, clubs, philanthropic organizations, schools, Universities, airlines, conferences, trade dinners, parties...

To me, please, by email, whenever and wherever you find them. If you can do the research and find the principal contacts (email), and any other relevant data, I will collate the information and post it on the SCDC website and circulate it to you all as well. In fact, if you were to write yourself in the first instance, seeking a small menu correction, and report the reponse to me, it would be even better. There, as even-handed as they come. Tommy Cheung's argument in part rests on his belief about the species that are taken and their abundance. However, mere belief in the face of data is difficult to sustain with a straight face.

Why let a good story be spoiled by the truth? Mr Cheung, could I suggest that you refer to the many sources of reliable information before making such absurd remarks. Perhaps you ought to talk to Mr Chiu Ching-cheung, who plainly is an authority in such things - after all, the government of Hong Kong relies on him. Mr Cheung does not understand the fuss. Does he not see contradiction in Disney's apparent stance? Does he not see inconsistency? I can only assume that he has not actually read any of the relevant material, or given thought to what it all means. Sadly, he belittles Chinese intellect by such remarks. "Chinese tradition" in Mr Cheung's and Mr Ng's view is driven by the need for restaurants to make a profit. The last part we cannot disagree with, but the premise is faulty. Is it really the case that consideration for restaurateurs' profits overrides all others? Can he seriously be arguing that something that was acceptable in the past is valid now? Could I therefore suggest that he introduce bills into the Legislative Council for slaves to be employed in restaurant kitchens as they are much cheaper to run; that pigs be permitted to be slaughtered on the pavement outside to ensure that the meat is fresh; and that traditional fertilization of green vegetables be allowed as this will lower costs?

We look forward to cheaper, fresher, healthier meals. On the other hand, I do not hear much of a clamour for the serving of bear paws, live monkey brains, turtles and other such "delicacies". Do our trade representatives not think that these should be reintroduced on cultural grounds? By the way, I am thinking of reintroducing human sacrifice...

Basically, there is no evidence in their remarks, presumably meant to shame Disney into being respectful of the trade's primary drive - profit (and shark fin soup profits are huge!) - of a balanced rational view, respectful of current knowledge, respectful of current attitudes, respectful of learned bodies' resolutions, respectful of the environment, respectful of the need for conservation, respectful of the idea of a sustainable trade. Please, do not talk to me about respect. [/url]

So far, after only one day, over 400 students have signed a petition against Disney's decision to serve shark fin soup. In signing the petition they have pledged not to go to Disney Land until they stop serving shark fin. There are [were] some hi res pictures here:

 It has all been organised by the students (of all nationalities). They will be avialable for interviews tomorrow lunchtime, if you are available. Paul

from Brian Darvell:

Inauguration I think we ought to recognize those organizations that have made a commitment not to serve shark fin soup. So we hereby inaugurate the Shark Fin Hall of Fame http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin_fame.html[/url] - a small list that we hope will grow steadily.

Likewise, we have created the Shark Fin Hall of Shame http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin_shame.html[/url] whose members will no doubt increase with time as well, but who deserve our attention in an attempt to change their ways. Nominations for either are invited, properly documented. Grapevine A friend of a friend in New York reports that Michael Eisner is receiving our emails (despite the bouncing messages), much to his chagrin. So, Mr Eisner, what exactly is the problem? Have you no courage, no moral responsibility to your own environmental PR? Please take the time to read the next item and follow the link. Requiem Just in case you had any doubt about what is happening, read this: [missing, from finns online?] - and notice the inset item: "The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands in the Pacific Ocean has just adopted a resolution seeking to hunt sharks. The resolution reads in part, “Shark meat and fins are very popular, delicious and expensive food products in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and other areas. (We) could be used as a processing and transshipment station for countries in need of shark meat and fins.”

In need of? Again, pure profit is the motivation. Just like you, Mr Eisner. Moral high ground A caller on RTHK Radio 3 today claimed that it was hypocrisy to go after Disney and ignore the big hotels that serve the soup. I think it is simply an example that strikes a chord with many people, as has has been shown, and thus serves pour encourager les autres. Worry not, they are not being overlooked, but we have to start somewhere. If one is wrong, they are all wrong. Note that the OED has for hypocrisy: The assuming of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, with dissimulation of real character or inclinations,... Does that not characterize Disney to a T? I cannot see that it applies to us, here. Local view

A Cantonese correspondent tells me that, a far as he knows, the problem with shark fin soup has become prominent only since the 1980s. Certainly, it has been on menus before that, but only for the seriously rich; ordinary folks simply could not afford it. Now, with both increasing affluence generally in Hong Kong, and falling prices because the "fishery" effort has increased to profit from the market that has been created, it has been accessible to more. Hence the promotion of the soup as an indicator of wealth and prestige, of conspicuous extravagance. However, he is very clear that he cannot accept the claim by Tommy Cheung and Disney PR people that "A Chinese banquet without shark's fin soup is no banquet." He went on to say that in much of China the attraction of shark fin soup is incomprehensible, but he is concerned that the Cantonese as a whole do not take the blame for a minority problem.

We need to be careful, therefore, that we do not falsely accuse the majority. Naturally, we would not want to do that. Our focus is simply those consumers that drive the market, the organizations that offer it and thus support the market, and the short-term profit motive of those who would drive species to extinction for immediate cash. The majority can do much to help.

BWD http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin.html[/url]

Disney is among backers of a project to try and solve Africa's bushmeat crisis, which is surely based on local traditions (albeit much now illegal): http://www.bushmeat.org[/url] Then, says Disney's website:

The Disney">http://disney.go.com/disneyhand/environmentality/dwcf/]Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund helps ensure the survival of wildlife and wild places in all their beauty and diversity.

Disney is also among sponsors of World Widlife Fund (in US) Windows on the Wild education program;

In recent years, WOW programs have included: ... seminars to help consumers steer clear of harmful wildlife trade;
Disney is a co-sponsor of Project">http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/education/psa/psa.htm]Project Shark Awareness at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Maybe can expand this project, to Hong Kong? If so, can include info from the scheme, such as:

In most commercial fisheries shark meat is considered of low value and sharks are often discarded at sea rather than landed at port. Their fins on the other hand are worth quite a lot in the Asian shark fin soup market. This has led a number of fishermen to cut the fins off of the sharks as they come aboard and through their bodies back over board. This way they can land the expensive fins, and save room to land more expensive fish. This practice is very wasteful and often times the sharks are finned and returned to sea while still alive, left to die.


Post edited by: Martin, at: 2005/06/09 15:06

two more emails from Brian Darvell:

Confusion On Friday we reported Disney's claims to have reached agreement with WWF on obtaining "friendly fins". However, Eric Bohm wrote a letter which appeared in Sunday's South China Morning Post (June 12, 2005) which reveals Disney's duplicity. I reproduce it here in full because it sums up the difficulties of dealing with this company. They are not open, they are not honest. (The emphasis of para. 3 is mine).

Disney green only in the US? We are deeply disappointed by Disney's ill-advised decision to keep shark's fin on its menu ("Disney seeks WWF's green light for shark's fin suppliers", June 8, and "Shark fin at Disney will come with a sermon", June 10). Disney has lost an excellent opportunity to take the lead as a proponent of sustainable consumption, the only solution available to mankind to preserve valuable marine resources.

In a teleconference with World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong and WWF USA last week, Disney USA agreed not to serve shark's fin, either on the general menu or by request, until such time as WWF and Disney are able to identify a certified sustainable source. We were in the process of drafting a joint press release to reflect these discussions. The announcement by Disney Hong Kong comes as a surprise. Is Disney in control of its subsidiary? Disney does not say how its "responsible and reliable" source of supply will be monitored to avoid sharks slaughtered through finning and uncontrolled fishing practices.

We have to wonder which criterion is more important: responsible or reliable? In the context of Disney's commitment to youth and its public pronouncements of concern for the environment, easily accessible from its website, this decision smacks of the grossest hypocrisy.

Does Disney's environmentalism apply only in America? Outside America, do "different cultures" make environmentally unsound practices acceptable? For Disney to offer leaflets to those ordering shark's fin, explaining "environmental concerns", can be compared to a pharmacy offering rhino horn tablets and saying: "We would like to point out that rhino are endangered, but the choice is yours". We strongly urge Disney to reconsider this abhorrent decision.

E. A. BOHM, CEO, WWF Hong Kong

I think Mr Bohm is upset, don't you? So much for trust. This certainly confirms the impression that the HK appendage of Disney has a mind of its own and lacks the Enviromentality bump.

Of course, we should be reassured by Esther Wong, who said that selling the fins wasn't a business issue, as if anyone could believe that! Disney not do something for profit with Mr Eisner at the helm? Maybe I have a solution... Matthew 5:30 advises: "And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Nurse, no anaesthetic ...

Collusion There is a dreadful rumour today that Green Power, who have been called quite a few names elsewhere for "assisting" Disney with their explanatory leaflet, have received one million HK dollars in return. This conflicts with an earlier statement. I hope to be able to report a definitive denial very soon. One can imagine the temptation, but it's that word again. [see below]

Cultural Card

Various reasons why playing the cultural card is morally depauperate have been advanced, but there is a precedent to contradict the claim that it is necessary: ivory. When this was banned, except for local sale of existing stocks, with no export, more or less overnight a huge traditional industry was destroyed. Ivory has long had images of prestige associated with it, and certainly has been part of Chinese culture for a long time - many classical images exist. However, our fearless government (then!), in the face of international pressure, shut it all down. This was managed through various measures, including retraining of the craftsmen, and alternative materials. This was a remarkable, laudable precedent. They had no difficulty then in coping with the defence of people's livelihood by making alternative arrangements.

Now, Esther Wong and Rita Chan, explain to me again why it is essential to promote shark fin soup and environmental destruction? Costa Rican Corruption In principle, some have it right, but are thwarted by higher powers

Just look at the range of the ocean that is being destroyed and weep. Disney, HKTB, HKSAR government - your complicity is culpable. The OED2 has complicity 1. The being an accomplice; partnership in an evil action. I can say no more. Cassandra There have been claims from the trade that there is no problem, despite the evidence. Can we dare to hope that we are not going to suffer here in the same was as is described so well in this: http://www.seashepherd.org

Communication Breakdown

Naively, one would imagine government officers to have a duty of care.

Yet Dr Wong Fook Yee , Assistant Director of AFCD, has made it very plain to a correspondent that e-mails that are longer than a page would not be read on the grounds that only bullet points should be given, and then only four of them, as people only spend 4 seconds reading an e-mail. Now, if this is the fate of all of our careful attempts to explain, it is no wonder the world is in a dire state.

I am sorry, Dr Wong, but life is more complicated than that. If we need to explain the self-evident to those who will not see, it necessarily takes more space than that. If we take the trouble, do you not think we are owed the courtesy of a reading? But then, you haven't got this far, have you? Coverage A few more hits: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GF13Ak08.html http://www.mickeynews.com/News/DisplayPressRelease.asp_Q_id_E_6125Friendly which is remarkable because now a political party has joined in. http://www.mickeynews.com/News/DisplayPressRelease.asp_Q_id_E_695Shark confirms that Disney takes this seriously. Right. A succinct summary of the present position: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Front_Page/GF13Aa01.html BWD

Collusion Confusion - Resolved! Do a Google search on "Green Power" + Disney +shark +fin +soup and, as of June 14th, there are 40-odd English pages found which report the leaflet 'collaboration':

Yet, this same morning the following was sent to a correspondent: "No, Green Power is not responsible for or has not [been] invited to design the leaflet." - L.K. Cheng This followed: "Green Power has not received and will not receive any money from Disney for the production of leaflet. We give them the information of conservation of sharks and shark fins for free. We will not [be] involve[d] in the following production of leaflet." - L.K. Cheng

The confusion is worrying. I have now received clarification as follows: "Yes, we are against the serving of the shark fin soup under any conditions whatsoever at Disney. The issuing of the leaflet is not our focus because our goal is to stop Disney providing shark fins in their service. This is the main point. The information we gave [was] also aiming at this goal. We are not prepared to compromise on this goal. We are against the serving of shark fin soup, whatever issuing of the leaflet or not, or whatever it says.

Our position was clearly stated in South China Morning Post and other international news agency in these few days. That is why I cannot understand the rumour." - CHENG Luk-ki Division Head, Scientific Research and Conservation Green Power This seems clear enough. Remember: "Disney will work with the Hong Kong environmental group Green Power to produce leaflets about the topic, said spokeswoman Irene Chan."

In addition to the media errors, this seems to be another misrepresentation by the fully-autonomous HK element of the Disney organism. Not only do they rat on WWF HK, they attempt to subvert Green Power's advice in an attempted "divide and conquer" manoeuvre. How despicable can you get? Ms. Chan, do us and Disney a favour - resign, and take Esther Wong with you. Campaign Intensification The calls for action are getting louder: http://www.seashepherd.org More background: http://www.seashepherd.org

Dr Wong Fook Yee, Assistant Director of AFCD, has written to apologize for a misunderstanding. His "4 bullets in 4 seconds" remarks in the last Update came from theory promulgated by a management and communication consultant! Evidently this theory was not taken to heart, fortunately, as Dr Wong did read the whole Update - for which effort, my thanks. It just goes to show that ill-considered repetition of trendy formulae can be dangerous. Think for yourself, is all we can suggest.

Dr Wong says: "This does not mean we will not pay attention to long emails. I am sorry for the confusion. Please be assured that we do pay attention to details." I take this to mean that whenever any of us write to him with local marine conservation concerns he will treat it all seriously. I have asked Dr Wong to see if efforts to prevent illegally-obtained shark fins being sold here can be improved. BWD

Email from friend of mine, Martin Turner - circulated, inc to Don Robinson of HK Disneyland:

Hi Have you seen sharks having their fins sliced off and then being thrown back alive into the sea to die? It is quite disgusting. And all for the supposed 'delicacy' of shark's fin soup. As well as being cruel and wasteful, the rate at which sharks are being caught severely threatens many species and entire marine ecosystems.

If you're in Hong Kong, you must have heard that Disneyland here is planning to serve shark's fin soup at its restaurants. It has accepted that this is a BAD THING to do, eg. by offering to give out leaflets saying so each time the dish is served. But isn't it a bit late then? Lately, the company has offered to use 'sustainable' supplies, but this isn't practicable, say environmental organisations such as WWF.

This is an issue where, right now, we can make a difference. Disney is susceptible to public opinion, and if it decides to withdraw shark's fin from its menus, we will be sending a strong signal that this ghastly and destructive practice can be stopped. See this sample protest letter from Animals Asia, and please write to the Disney leaders at the addresses they give: [letter gone now; edited later]

cheers Martin Turner

Latest News HK Outdoors Forum

Further Reading: Shark Finning Faces Broader Sanctions. (11 Dec 2004)

Clipping the fin trade. Science News 162 (Oct. 12):232-234.

______. 2002. No way to make soup—Thirty-two tons of contraband shark fins seized on the high seas. Science News Online (Sept. 7).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2004. Fact Sheet: Shark Management (Dec. 3). Available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sharks/FS_management.htm[/url]

Watts, S., et al. 2001. The End of the Line? Global Threats to Sharks. San Francisco: Wildaid. Available at http://www.wildaid.org/PDF/reports/TheEndoftheLine(1).pdf.

For further information about sharks from the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, go to http://www.pelagic.org[/url]. For NOAA's Shark Web site, go to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sharks/[/url]. References: Animals Asia http://www.animalsasia.org[/url] 2004.

International commission adopts U.S. proposal for shark finning ban. U.S. Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration press release. Nov. 23. Available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/docs/ICCAT_Conclusion.pdf[/url]. 2002. NMFS announces final rule to implement the Shark Finning Prohibition Act. National Marine Fisheries Service press release. Feb. 11. Available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/shark_finning/fax_fr_shark_f.PDF[/url].

Soto, O.R. 2004. A legal matter of great delicacy. San Diego Union-Tribune (Dec. 6).

United Nations General Assembly. 2004. Sustainable Fisheries Resolution A/59/L.23: 59/25 of the Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Nov. 17): Available at http://www.un.org/Depts/los/general_assembly/general_assembly_resolution....

The American Elasmobranch Society has a home page at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/organizations/aes/aes.htm[/url].

From Brian Darvell:

[quote]Hi,
Suzanne Gendron [Ocean Park Conservation Foundation] has asked me to pass this to you. As you will see, she has been a little pressed, and managed to get this written at the last minute. I know she has been making efforts to get this resolved.

BWD

++++++++++++++

Dear All,

Thank you for sharing this with me and asking for my response. I did receive a copy of this email from Dr. Darvell and can only say that I have not been able to respond sooner as I've been swamped here at the Park with the various meetings, reports and duties as Director. I have been following the shark fin stories closely through emails from Brian Darvell and also the paper when I have a chance to open it. As such, I have been able to discuss with Brian and also advocate with my colleagues at Disney in the US.

Ocean Park has had a policy that predates my arrival in 1998 to not serve shark fin soup. We still feel strongly that there is not a sustainable shark fishery presently and that the level and intensity of shark fin fishing is pushing the sharks quickly towards extinction. It is due to this fishing industry that the landmark inclusion of whale sharks and basking sharks have been added to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II list. There is evidence that suggests that the whale shark population found off of the Philippines is the same as is found in the Sea of Cortez between Baja California and mainland Mexico. As such, they must be protected on a global scale.

Shark reproduction is not like the teleost (bony, more advanced evolutionarily) fishes. Teleosts are for the most part, extremely fecund animals (meaning they have a high reproductive rate, which they accomplish through the production of thousands of eggs). Sharks on the other hand, have reproductive strategies that are more similar to mammals; fewer young and longer gestation. This is true for even those sharks that lay eggs. As such, they cannot be fished at the level of intensity that the teleost fishes are being fished. And even those cannot sustain the level of fishing we see presently. Over 70% of our fisheries are overexploited and the others are fully exploited. We need to manage our resources more wisely if we are to see them survive.

While it is very difficult to obtain good data on a global fishery without a collaborative effort by many throughout the world, there is strong evidence that the number of sharks has dropped dramatically in the past twenty years. Fisheries studies which support the CITES application for the whale and basking shark can be cited as well as fishermen's anecdotal stories of the difficulties they have finding the sharks, the smaller sizes of sharks being caught and the fewer species.

Conservation is the wise use of our resources in order to ensure that they are here for a long time. In addition, whenever animals are involved, they should be dealt with in a humane manner. Like the swordfish fisheries in the late 90s, we must give the sharks a chance by not fishing for a few years. Take advantage of that time to study the situation and from the position of scientific data, recommend a sustainable level of take for the various shark species used for soup and for meat. We may find that level is zero!

Sharks are one of the apex predators in the ocean. This means that they are at the top of the food chain. They fulfil a very important role as such. Other creatures in the ocean that are sick or genetically weak will be the first marine animals attacked by sharks. By doing this, they help to prevent diseases spreading rapidly through a school of fish and keep the fish strong. It is important to us as we compete for the fishes as consumers. If a disease should kill an entire population, it not be good for any of us.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am out of the country beginning Wednesday night and will return in two weeks time.

Suzanne

Suzanne M. Gendron
Foundation Director
Ocean Park Conservation Foundation
The Conservation Arm of Ocean Park[/quote]

more from Brian Darvell: [quote]100,000,000 a Year x 1000 Words http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin_grisly.html[/url] Fresh Fish Epcot has a "dine with the fishes" Coral Reef Restaurant ( http://www.allearsnet.com/menu/menu_cr.htm[/url] ) with Brown Shark, Stingray, Grouper, Tarpon, and Green Turtle. Let's hope they do not do this in Hong Kong with "pick your own" Napoleon Wrasse or grouper, while we are on the cultural sensitivity hook. After all, it is part of Hong Kong's tradition to eat endangered species caught illegally ...

Remember Selina Chow's immortal line: "We must also take into account the need to preserve its traditions and a distinctive culinary legacy." (see letter of 2002/07/11: http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=67&Item... ) - presumably at any cost. Changed your mind yet, Selina? Can you really still believe you were (and still are!) justified in being part and parcel of this nasty trade? An apologist for immoral and criminal activity? Distinctive, alright.

Chinese culture? This culture thing hinges on some sense of it being special, local. Others beg to differ. David Lau, secretary-general of Bangkok's Association of Shark Fin Restaurants, seethed: "Foreigners shouldn't be allowed to come to Thailand and say anything they want. This is our culture, and you can't change it." http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501040531-641219,... So much for free speech. However, Mr Lau cannot have it both ways. His association is of about 30 Chinese restaurants. It is disingenuous to suggest that a money-making operation in a foreign land is part of that country's culture.

Notice that the whole basis of the claim against WildAid was loss of business. Say no more. Get-out I have heard of one recent Chinese wedding where the the bride and groom stood up and announced that they would not be serving shark fin soup at the banquet because it was not environmentally-friendly. This was cool. No-one was upset, no one lost face. This, I am told, is perfectly acceptable, perfectly respectful of guests, and a perfect solution to being thought a cheap-skate - the other possible reason for not spending vast sums of money. How hard is that?

Domino Speculation

Here's a thought: Disney HK has the HKSAR government as a majority shareholder. Disney HK appear to be behaving as an autonomous organization (that is, taking not a blind bit of notice of the parent company - one would like to imagine to their distress and frustration). HKSAR government does not have the best of records when it comes to dealing with environmental issues - trade comes first, remember. Now, if Disney HK are seen to "capitulate" to the local green groups and gobal opinion on such an issue, it would leave the HKSAR government without a leg to stand on. Businesses all over the territory would have to follow suit and not serve shark fin for fear of the same outcry. The same goes for many other environmental concerns. The one goes, they all go. So, the HKSAR government, in its wisdom (and shareholder majority), whispers in the big black ears: Don't you dare give way! Act dumb, act offended, act anonymously - but do not act responsibly. So Disney HK's spokesmen are no more than mouthpieces, mere puppets, for a jobsworth in the HK civil service who has been given instructions by a big wheel. Does that not make sense? Does that not make Esther and Irene look good?

The fight, therefore, is not about shark fin, it is about the HKSAR government being made to act according to its own pronouncements in respect of conservation, sustainability and public education. It would have to take the lead, in fact, a lead that so far has seen lip-service only. So, they bully. They threaten (I wonder what?). They stay publically silent themselves! We have had not one word of response from a government officer addressing the main issues raised in these updates. It seems to me that not one shred of a balancing counter-argument has ever been produced. There is no ambiguous data that could be quibbled over. The world's experts are unanimous.

Any investigative journalists out there with a Deep Throat of their own who can shed light on this, or prove me wrong? The easiest way, Mr. Murphy , is to exert your authority - if you have any (I am saddened to have received no communication from you, either). Hall of Fame - has been updated with the addition of Singapore Airlines and Thai Airlines. Old news, but valuable support. You see, guys, it can be done; nothing special to it, just conscience. Boycott Calls for a boycott are increasing.

To assist you should you decide to join this, visit http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/overview.html[/url] to discover how wide the reach is. You may be suprised at some names. In summary, these include: Disney Studio Entertainment Walt Disney Pictures - including Walt Disney Feature Animation and DisneyToon Studios; Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films and Dimension Films. Buena Vista International, Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Home Entertainment International. Buena Vista Theatrical Productions does Broadway musicals. Buena Vista Music Group has four record labels: Walt Disney Records, Buena Vista Records, Hollywood Records and Lyric Street Records. Disney Parks and Resorts Disneyland in Anaheim, California; The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida; Disneyland Resort Paris; Tokyo Disney Resort; and another 6 theme parks (the 11th is Hong Kong). There are 35 resort hotels and two luxury cruise ships. Disney Cruise Line, DisneyVacation Club, Disney Regional Entertainment runs eight ESPN Zone sports dining and entertainment locations; Anaheim Sports, Inc., oversees Disney's National Hockey League franchise, The Mighty Ducks.

Disney Consumer Products

These include: apparel, toys, home décor, books, interactive games, foods and beverages, electronics and fine art. Disney Consumer Products is divided into Disney Hardlines, Disney Softlines and Disney Toys. Disney Publishing includes Hyperion Books for Children, Disney Press and Disney Editions, and the children's magazine in the USA, Disney Adventures. There are Buena Vista Games, The Baby Einstein Company, Disney Stores worldwide and Disney Direct Marketing, including DisneyStore.com and the Disney catalogue. Disney Media Networks "The Media Networks segment encompasses a vast array of properties on the television, cable, radio and Internet landscape." ABC Television Network includes ABC Entertainment, ABC Daytime, ABC News, ABC Sports, ABC Kids, Touchstone Television. ABC Owned Television Stations operates 10 stations in the USA, ABC Radio owns 72 stations, including Radio Disney, ESPN Radio and ABC News Radio. Media Networks includes ESPN, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Toon Disney, SOAPnet, Walt Disney Television Animation, Fox Kids International, Lifetime Entertainment Services, A&E Television Networks and E! Networks. Buena Vista Television; Buena Vista Television International; Walt Disney Internet Group.

But worry not. Life will go on without any of this - read a book (from another publisher). Look for the logo - turn away. I have already heard of a mother who dropped a Mickey Mouse bib like it was poison and went somwhere else. Save your money, save a shark. Data For some more background reading, try: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/organizations/ssg/redlist2005.html[/url].

Anybody have any friends (or friends of friends) in Orlando? Spread the word. Coverage But just in case you though this was going to go away, Mr Eisner, we continue to have increased coverage

more from Brian Darvell:

Painful Reminder Today is about the 1-month anniversary of the open letter to Disney politely requesting a simple change to a menu: http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Item... We still have not heard an acknowledgement or a sensible word from Disney: only silence, delaying tactics, obfuscation and cheating. Rather rude, I call it.

Kym Murphy asked for patience - explain why, if you can, Mr Murphy. I was hoping for something a liitle more prompt in the way of real communication. If you cannot fulfill the explicit moral obligations of your post - whether through personal ineffectiveness or Disney management pressure - and live up to your title, you might as well resign as well. It does you no good to be associated with them. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation  must be somewhat embarrassed by this - and they have not said a word either. I wonder why?

Principles "At The Walt Disney Company, we alone are responsible for upholding our excellence and our integrity. This means acting responsibly in all our professional relationships, in a manner consistent with the high standards we set for our business conduct." - Michael Eisner, Chief Executive Officer - Bob Iger, President and Chief Operating Officer http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/corporate_responsibility.html[/... Sorry, come again? That's Mr Eisner and Mr Iger alone? Can we discuss the meaning of the words "responsibly", "all", "consistent" and "standards", please? We must be working from different dictionaries.

Dominos

I hate to say this, but I think I was right. Yesterday I mentioned a speculation (cynic that I am) - it was immediately followed by a report that it is indeed Selina Chow that has been urging Disney HK not to yield. In addition, the word is that "two big bosses" from the US parent have been doing exactly the same thing. They wouldn't happen to be Messrs Eisner and Iger, would they? What is going on? Selina I can understand, just: she is a politician, and appears to have the following endearing attributes: she cannot admit to being wrong, has no conscience, no morals, no sense of civic duty, no functional arguments - only trite formulaic responses that do not bear scrutiny, no willingness to discuss, and is afraid of being to seen to have principles that extend beyond immediate personal benefit (i.e., political survival). If so, she clearly has no sense of the overall value of Hong Kong in the long term, let alone global resources.

But why is Disney US so duplicitous? Entering into negotiations with WWF and Green Power (only to rat on them, as it turns out), while secretly saying 'ignore it', is just mind-boggling.

You know, I would love to be proved wrong. Anybody got the guts? Let's get this clear: supporting a trade that depends on illegal activity is collusion and culpable. Accomplices to crimes deserve prosecution. How do you sleep, Selina, unless you have no conscience whatsoever? I dare you: prove me wrong.

Boycott

Further to my summary, a fuller list of Disney companies can be found at [gone, 2008] - and there is a Disney credit card, every use of which gives them money. Best not. Contacts People are finding it extraordinarily difficult to find addresses for key people. Why do they hide so? As far as we can tell, this is the main one: The Walt Disney Company 500 S. Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521 USA Key email addresses are in the header. Any other intelligence gratefully received.

Petition I am attaching a petition form for you to use if you see fit. It is also available here: http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=67 The general idea is to print a copy, with as many name-list pages as you need, pass it around at your office, club or school, and then send the completed sheets off to Mr Eisner for his consideration.

If you do send such a petition, a note of the number of signatures to me would be appreciated. That way we can keep track. Numbers from other petitions could also be mentioned - it's all the same. We'll post a grand total from time to time.

Ocean Park

Suzanne Gendron makes a very important point in the last paragraph of her open letter: [posted above in this forum] Sharks are one of the apex predators in the ocean. This means that they are at the top of the food chain. They fulfil a very important role as such. Other creatures in the ocean that are sick or genetically weak will be the first marine animals attacked by sharks. By doing this, they help to prevent diseases spreading rapidly through a school of fish and keep the fish strong. It is important to us as we compete for the fishes as consumers. If a disease should kill an entire population, it not be good for any of us. We need sharks. Coverage - just goes on increasing: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/15/business/shark.php[/url] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/business/worldbusiness/17shark.html?ex... And watch out for the (UK) Sunday Times Travel section, June 19th ... Thanks to all my correspondents, your contributions are much appreciated. BWD http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id...

Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/06/17 23:51

the petition Brian Darvell mentioned in above message [2008: no longer here, or needed for Disney]

Attn: Mr Michael D Eisner, CEO The Walt Disney Company 500 S. Buena Vista Street Burbank, CA 91521 Dear Mr Eisner I hope you are well. If you check the following link [was to Sea Shepherd store] You will see that Sea Shepherd have produced some delightful T-shirts - and I've ordered one for you! However, not knowing you personally, I ordered you a "large" so please let me know if that is incorrect. These things are very easy to change on-line, creditcard payment makes these things so easy, doesn't it. The front of this T-shirt features a colourful depiction of “Mickey Louse” and “Donald Sucks” preparing a bowl of shark fin soup. The back features the Sea Shepherd logo beneath a de-finned shark.

The shirts are on order now and will be shipped in approximately 3 weeks. As I'm sure they'll be very popular with the millions of people who do have a basic understanding of marine ecology, you might want to reserve some for your friends, colleagues, associates and family? The price is US$18:00 plus US$4:00 shipping within the USA - but they do ship overseas too. In addition Mr Eisner you'll be thrilled to hear that when you receive the present that I have bought for you - you will also receive an educational brochure on the devastating effects of shark finning and what "you" can do to help us stop it.

Oh - those are my "quote" marks Mr Eisner because, by this point in time, YOU know what YOU can do to help stop it ... don't you? Shirt: Stop Shark Finning T-Shirt SKU: shr-052 The front of this Anti-Shark Finning T-shirt features a colourful depiction of “Mickey Louse” and “Donald Sucks” preparing a bowl of shark fin soup. The back features our Sea Shepherd logo beneath a de-finned shark.

With the purchase of each T-shirt, you will receive an educational brochure on the devastating effects of shark finning and what you can do to help us stop it. Available in short-sleeve, white, and made of 100% organic cotton this T-shirt features the creative, satirical artwork by Sea Shepherd volunteer Geert-Jan Vons. Shirts are on order and will be shipped in approximately 3 weeks. You can reserve yours now! PRICE: $18.00 Regards Annabel Annabel Thomas, Director AquaMarine Diving - Bali (PADI R6344) Correspondence Address: PO Box 2098, Kuta, Bali 80361, Indonesia Office Address: Jl Raya Seminyak 2A, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia Phone: +62 361 730 107 Fax: +62 361 735 368 Mobile: +62 81 236 588 29 Website: http://www.aquamarinediving.com[/url][/quote]

Disney has been v quiet re the shark fin issue. Not so Brian Darvell; another update here:

Doubts? Just in case you had any doubts, see it for yourself: stephanie_video.mpg (it is worth waiting for the download, but not if you are squeamish) Mr Chiu Ching-cheung, do you really believe it does not happen? Of course not.

You could also read: at_rock_bottom.pdf and http://www.pacfish.org/sharkcon/summary.html[/url] Overwhelming Peter Hughes Diving received an amazing response - over 1200 emails - to their request for support in their efforts to persuade Disney of the error of their ways. See: http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=144&Ite...

How long can Disney continue to ignore such spontaneous calls for common sense and leadership to prevail? Insult to Injury According to an article in today's SCMP, Disney have signed a contract forbidding at least one franchised restaurant at the park from selling the the soup. This is correctly identified as employing double standards, as if they have not already by selling their green soul for mainland tourist profits. Typically, no sensible comment has been obtained, and everybody's favourite, Esther Wong, does not return calls.

Mr 57%

I have speculated about the profit motive for Disney, but of course there is something even bigger as a prize to be captured, regardless of environmental cost - mainland Chinese tourists. The HKSAR government spent some HK$2.5 ~ 3 Billion to get Disney into HK at a time when the only thought in their mind was tourism dollars; the loss of revenue from dwindling numbers was acute. They must still be rather keen to see a return on this "investment" in HK's future (sc. the future profits of those few big wheels who will benefit). With a potential market of 300 million people just across the border, Disney and the HK government could not care less about the environment, conservation or such disposable assets as principles.

Can anybody seriously imagine leaflets being read when the soup is ordered? Is this what passes for an educational effort to justify strutting under a green umbrella? We are not that stupid to think so. Hence, all efforts are focused on getting mainlanders into the territory, spending freely, to finance grandiose schemes in "Asia's World City" [cough! choke! sneeze!]. We are talking about a market greater than the North American population, a disposable income that Selina Chow would love to see being spent here. Anything that reduces the spending is anathema. And that goes for Disney's ridiculous position taken regarding smoking as well. Hey kids! Second hand smoke for everyone!! Again, will mainland Chinese come here for a "fairy-tale wedding" (about as far removed from Chinese tradition as it is possible to get) and be worried about shark fin soup not being available? Will they really think they need it? Only if Disney tells them so ... and they are.

But how many weddings can there possibly be to warrant this? In comparison with the millions they hope to get through the gates, that has to be a small proportion. If they think that Chinese customers are really so unthinking, inflexible and insensitive then surely they insult them all. If they think that they are so easily conned by a trumped-up, ad man's dream, face-giving measure, what value do they put on their customers' intelligence? About as much as they respect our sincere efforts to undo the cynicism and hypocrisy.

In contrast, Friends of Hoi Ha consider that Hong Kong is in danger of being considered a pariah state in environmental terms, where the environment takes second place to profit and where major consignments of endangered species are either consumed or trans-shipped with impunity. If that affects tourist dollars, won't that be counterproductive, Selina? 3 minutes of Glory Well, hardly, but CNN did run a rather brief live interview with me today (June 21). The topic is being kept in the public eye, globally, and there is a lot of news to compete with. We should all be taking any and every opportunity to nudge, cajole, persuade and convince people that: - shark fin soup is unsustainable - Disney have misjudged their position

Twitchy

Now here's a thing. We are not supposed to know this, but TVB, one of two "terrestrial" TV operations here, had managed a grand coup in obtaining the rights to show a long list of Disney films, including some well ahead of the normal time when they would be allowed on general broadcast. The schedule included "Finding Nemo" http://www.pixar.com/featurefilms/nemo/ - where sharks are given a PR opportunity to change their image. 'Nemo" was intended to be shown close to the September 12th opening of the HK Disneyworld, with the obvious link of the prestige of a major recent release. However, some bright bean-counter seems to have got cold feet in the blood of de-finned sharks. TVB, in their sensitive, caring fashion, have rescheduled 'Nemo' to a much later time, presumably in an attempt to avoid controversy. Well, it hasn't worked, has it? I wonder, too, who will be interested in paying for that broadcast with their advertising dollars even then - all of whom will link themselves inextricably with Disney and its cynicism (it rubs off, you know). But guess what is intended now to be shown instead at that crucial and defining moment for hypocrisy and profiteering? - Cinderella. Oh, my, do they not see the irony?

Who will be the prince for our benighted sharks, Mr Eisner, Mr Iger, or Mr Murphy? Curiosity (1) I read on http://www.rewilding.org/wp/?p=10[/url] that "We have Chinese celebrities like Michele Yeoh and Jackie Chan who have spoken out against" shark fin soup.

Yet, elsewhere we find: "Favourite delecacy [sic] Shark fin soup" http://www.nilacharal.com/enter/celeb/jc.html[/url] Oh dear.

Curiosity (2) On http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/10120/newsDate/16-Mar... we read encouraging words from Tony Leung, while on the other channel we read that Tony Leung is a favourite actor of Selina Chow's Ooops! Does that mean she is cancelling her fan club subscription? Sigh

By the way, also on http://www.rewilding.org/wp/?p=10[/url] , at the bottom, we read Administrator Says: June 18th, 2005 at 6:04 pm It is sad in this day and age that such arguments against ecological ignorance are even required. Quite. Coverage The Economist's Hong Kong Briefing has carried a note (no URL). http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GF21Ak02.html[/url] The Pew Institute is working in South Africa on a shark TV special for CBS "60 minutes" - profiling the Disney situation. I think we should keep an eye out for this one. http://www.pewoceanscience.org[/url] http://www.rsmas.miami.edu[/url]

WildAid keep track of the press quite well with a compilation newsletter: WildAid Shark News. If you would like to be on this list, drop a brief note to Victor at wildaid.org.

Tailfin

But Disney remain distant, aloof, disdaining communication. This is not a matter of who looks away first, a childish staring game. This is deadly serious, and Disney cannot even meet our gaze. What does that say for their case? Not a leg to stand on, I would guess. I still say, Shame on you all. BWD

Well, congratulations to Disney. Although it was late and under pressure, today's decision to take shark's fin off the Disneyland menu is to be applauded.

Coverage in the local Chinese press was patchy - Ming Pao and Apple Daily both presented it as the environmental victory it was. Apple highlighted presure from local environmentalists - no hint of that "Eastern v Western culture" nonsense.

But The Sun and Oriental Daily News seem not to have mentioned the news. One can only assume, sadly, that they think their readers don't care about the issue, and neither paper has the cojones to take a lead. The HK Economic Journal didn't cover it either.

Martin Turner

Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/06/25 15:47

also from Brian Darvell:

Success

As by now most of you will know, the Disney Corporation has finally admitted and accepted that there is no such thing as a sustainable shark fin fishery, which we had been saying all along, and accordingly are removing the soup from their menu, even for insistent customers. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GF25Ak01.html[/url] The news travelled around the world rapidly, appearing on the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4622097.stm[/url] , in the New York Times, and many other places.

We applaud their decision, although it is regrettable that it took so long, that so much difficulty and obfuscation was encountered along the way, and that there was the conflict with their openly-stated principles in the first place. Even then, and sadly, the acceptance is grudging: But Don Robinson, Hong Kong Disneyland's group managing director, said the company had a good environmental reputation to keep. "Striking the right balance between cultural sensitivities and conservation has always been our goal," he said.

Please, do not take us all for idiots. The only point of balance in any such case is in favour of conservation because any rational, caring culture values its environment more than its immediate gratification. This was, in your argot, a "no brainer". As a further attempt to put a favourable spin on the outcome, we read (SCMP, 2005-06-25): Disney's vice-president for public affairs, Irene Chan Man-tuen, said the pupils were the first to know of Disney's decision. "I told them about our decision to remove shark's fin soup from our banquet menu and they welcomed this decision," she said.

Shall we rehearse the events? First, Disney were shamed into meeting the students by a stinging rebuke from a parent. Second, the attempt to bluster through with trite repetitions of the same tired lines was seen through immediately by the students, who then demanded proper answers. Third, the revelation was given slowly, piecemeal and grudgingly, with no sense that it was a positive, constructive, rational decision based on an intelligent review of the evidence but rather that it was politically unavoidable. "Extensive research"? Right. I suspect that Disney's PR stock is going to take quite some time to recover, and that the world is now going to be watching like hawks for any further misdemeanours.

Certainly, if shark fin soup appears on any menu associated with either a restaurant owned, run or franchised by Disney, or standing on Disney property, or even if it appears on the menu of any meal of an official function of any kind associated with Disney - and especially in Hong Kong to "celebrate" the opening here - I expect to hear about it very quickly. [Selina: no cheating.] Proactive, generous, long-term-minded actions are essential.

Lessons

We may usefully summarize what has been learnt from this story.

1 Shark Fin Soup is conservationally unsound. This is not an emotional or culturally-imperial position, it is the weight of scientific evidence and expert opinion that leads us inevitably to it.

2 The claim of "no problem", as relied on by the shark fin trade, is shown to be false. The trade therefore have no basis whatsoever for their increasingly absurd statements. No evidence was adduced, only bald denials were made. The only motive for them is profit. They no longer make sense in the debate. They should have no voice in any regulatory body or committee.

3 Bad decisions can be reversed. Despite issues of lack of internal communication, pride ("face"), big money against none, even monster corporations can choose to act responsibly. The prodigal son returned is to be welcomed.

4 Global opinion counts. The reponse to these personal messages, and to those put out by numerous bodies, was strong evidence that this is not a petty quibble of a local nature. The outcome of this affects us all: the health of the planet, our survival. One small step for a mouse (there are a few to go yet...)

5 Children are not to be underestimated in the global conservation movement. They are our heirs, and they will not appreciate being left a mess. They can and they will affect our behaviour as stewards, as they in turn will be stewards, not owners, of the dwindling resources of this planet. We owe them the right to speak, and we owe them the courtesy of listening.

6 Failure to communicate is counterproductive. Ignoring the requests for action and discussion was just plain rude. It does nothing for credibility, nothing for image, nothing for the case: it only makes it worse. Sending out anonymous dismissals, with no address even, says nothing more than "we are hiding". This is an admission of guilt, and we know it. You just cannot hide from millions of eyes. If your fingers are crossed behind your back, we will know.

7 And for the avoidance of doubt: there is no such thing now, nor is there any prospect in the forseeable future of, a sustainable shark fin fishery. Not that it is, in principle, impossible, but because there is no prospect of greed being curtailed, of the industry acting responsibly, of the trade being policed, or of the barbarity being stopped. The only option is to shut it down.

Future

There are, as has been pointed out by our detractors, quite a number of establishments that serve shark fin soup, but as I pointed out, one step at a time: Disney needed to set an example - which it has now done. Could I suggest that, as the occasion arises, and SFS is found on a menu, whether in a restaurant or at a banquet, that it be pointed out that this was a bad idea? Seek an agreement to remove it from the menu, or never to serve it again under any circumstances. Use Disney as the examplar: the guiding icon for the fact that it can be done. Point to the Hall of Fame, explain the virtues. If an agreement is secured, in writing, let me know and I will post the credit on the website. If there is a problem, again let me know, and I will let everybody know... I think we can do this, with the load distributed over many eyes and hands.

Please pass this on to your own groups and lists, ask for all your members to pass it on again, and then again. AsianGeographic have already started http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=151&Ite... Let me reprise a line from the very first letter: 'As Jiminy says, "Every little bit makes a big difference," reminding each person that we all play a critical role in promoting Environmentality.' http://corporate.disney.go.com/environmentality/index.html[/url]

Hall of Fame

As an example, I am delighted to welcome: The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino for a positive statement. As Mr. Punch said: "That's the way to do it." Oh, and a small concern called Disney has changed their mind and so been upgraded from the Hall of Shame. Well done, guys. It wasn't so hard to be true, now was it?

Thanks

Although, as implied above, this list will not close permanently just because this one episode is over, I should like here to thank various people, in addition to Disney for doing the right thing: Firstly, all my correspondents - for support and intelligence. Secondly, the world's media - for carrying the story in a balanced fashion and over a period far longer than I would have thought possible. That is a clear measure of its importance. Thirdly, all of you on this list and other lists for echoing and redoubling the efforts. Keep it up, and the job will get done. Fourthly, the amazing of number of shark-related conservation groups for pulling together (even WWF and Green Power!). They all deserve your support. Fifthly, South China Diving Club, for hosting the web pages documenting this story. Visibility is what keeps this alive. Sixthly, and really importantly, the students at West Island School, Hong Kong, for precipitating the most wonderful capitulation that we could have imagined. Well done, chaps. Many, many thanks. We all look forward to more general progress on this issue. 'bye for now. BWD http://www.scdc.org.hk/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id...

nothing wrong with shark fin soup.
in new zealand we eat hundred of tons of shark (most of our fish and chips), we throw out the fins.

the question is, is it better to throw out or serve them as soup?
always so easy to critize others with different tastes.

Hi Cameron:

Are you a troll?

Lest not: u suggesting there's nothing wrong with pushing species towards extinction?
(maybe read a bit more re the issue, inc sharks having fins cut off, then tossed back into water. There's potent case against shark fin use)

Martin

Email commentary just in from Brian Darvell:

[quote]Spin

I came across a copy of Disney's "Enviroport", their oddly-named annual (but entirely undated!) report detailing the wonderful things that Disney have done, as they say, "Making a Difference". The company, they say, "continues to receive accolades for exemplary environmental practices". Good, set an example. But not like this little item, taken from p. 23:
[i]"Helping Guests make wise conservation choices extends beyond interactions with local wildlife. The subject of sustainable seafood, for example, addresses menu selections that can affect the sustainability of fish populations in oceans around the world. Providing appropriate seafood choices for restaurant menus is the focus of Disney's Culinary Conservation Committee, which discusses how seafood selections can directly impact the environment. As a result, menu items at several Disney eateries have changed based on recommendations from the committee.

One of these choices reached headline proportions as Disney and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) partnered to address the implications of offering shark fin soup at Hong Kong Disneyland. After an intense examination of available sources for the delicacy, shark fin soup was removed from the menu when it became apparent that the sharks would not be harvested humanely and that endangered shark species would not be protected during the fishing process. In a broader effort to address future decisions, Disney's Animal Kingdom and WWF are working together with seafood purchasers and suppliers in workshops to discuss and address current and future conservation challenges facing the seafood and restaurant industries".[/i]
There are several things here I could comment on; I'll pick just a few. The word disingenuous springs to mind, as does chutzpah, gall, rose-tinted spectacles, spin, and "You what???".

It is interesting that there appears now to exist a "Culinary Conservation Committee", of which not a trace was seen last year. Why did they not make a visible attempt to resolve the issue then? This move to discuss is in stark contrast to last years episode in which it was absolutely impossible to get any kind of discussion going with anybody. Pompous and arrogant assertions were all we heard.

We learn that Disney and WWF "partnered" [sic!] in the midst of that debacle. That is not the way it came across then: WWF as I understood it were making great efforts to have Disney see the error of their ways.

We also learn that SFS is off the menu because "it became apparent that the sharks would not be harvested humanely and that endangered shark species would not be protected". This is the first time that the humane treatment of sharks has figured in their view, as far as I can tell. There was staunch defence of their right to serve the chicken soup with tasteless bits in, but this was dropped when it became abundantly apparent that there was no such thing as a sustainable fishery. There was no mention in any press release that I can recall about other species being protected. Good to see that this is now a factor: let's hold them to it. So prawns, sole, monkfish, tuna and so on will not appear in any of their restaurants? Right.

If indeed Disney have taken a more positive approach to their menus since then, fine. I am glad to hear it. But I suppose it was too much to expect them to publicize the fact that they were embarassed into a showdown with school children by one irate mother whose lad was being given the run-around, and that their capitulation was an ignominious climb-down from a very high horse. It might have been nice for them to acknowledge the moral guidance they received from children, and show some respect.

As it is, I am not exactly inclined to believe very much of the rest of the 30 pages of self-congratulation.

The kicker is on the back cover:
" The Walt Disney Company is committed to balancing environmental stewardship with its corporate goals and operations throughout the world."
Would I be too cynical to suggest that "balance" means to the extent that can they get away with it? Sorry, must try harder to be credible.

Above that tag line Jiminy Cricket sports a badge saying "Official Conscience". It's an old picture. I think he retired long ago...

BWD[/quote]

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/06/17 04:45

Hi. we are a group that wants to convince people to eat less shark fin soup. Do you know any way to make people eat less shark fin soup because we know what we want to do but we don't really have a plan how to make people eat less shark fin soup.

Martin Williams's picture

Tough question.

Seems education can have an effect, especially on younger people (older generations harder to sway, yet important); but slow slow going

Have you contacted Hong Kong Shark Foundation?

The editor of Sing Tao Daily takes a measured but progressive view toward getting shark's fin off the menu. As I understand it, the local Chinese media have not really taken up the issue before. 

Here's what he wrote in the HK Standard:

 

Turning up heat on shark's fin soup

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eating shark's fin has become a political issue that is getting bigger in Hong Kong.

An environmental group wrote to 56 government departments and public bodies, asking about the situation regarding their consumption of shark's fin, and whether the departments have internal guidelines on this matter.

Having shark's fin on the menu of a banquet is obviously politically incorrect.

So sooner or later, the government will have to strike shark's fin from the menu when entertaining guests, to avoid pressure from green groups.

Among the public organizations surveyed, only the Hong Kong Observatory issued an internal memo - in February 2008 - prohibiting shark's fin at any official banquet.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption, meanwhile, said its practice is not to serve shark's fin or any other endangered species when entertaining guests, or at internal events.

Government departments have always been the pioneer of new practices.

Past examples include proper setting of air- conditioning thermostats, and the five-day workweek. If the green groups are successful in getting the government to ban shark's fin from banquet tables, it will set an example for the rest of the community, and serve to keep the issue alive.

In Hong Kong, shark's fin is not just a food matter, but one that has economic implications. A senior trade official once told me the SAR is not only a big consumer, but also a major trading center of shark's fins.

The movement against the consumption of shark's fin would, therefore, have a negative impact on the related traders here.

Eating shark's fin is considered bad from a conservation perspective.

Footage of fishermen throwing live sharks back to the sea after cutting off their fins are not helping the image of the industry.

Senior officials noted that any trade involving the use of natural resources would run into the issue of conservation.

Understanding that conservation is an unstoppable movement, some industries choose to go with the flow and practice self-discipline, such as setting hunting limits.

The shark's fin trade is no exception. In order to survive in a society that is growing in conservation awareness, it must find ways to adapt too. Siu Sai-wo is chief editor of Sing Tao Daily.

Following public pressure, Citibank has "stopped all credit card promotions related to shark fin" in Asia Pacific.  It first halted only the meal promotions in Hong Kong, allowing similar ones in Singapore to continue, in contravention of its own positions on corporate social and environmental responsibility. (The bank cried that 'no one in Singapore had complained.'  Presumably they didn't ask the sharks.)

But after the anomaly was pointed out in the letters pages of the SCMP, including by Eric Bohm, chief executive of WWF, as well as by the New York Times, the bank's 'no shark's fin' policy was extended to all of Asia.  (The promotions also featured other endangered species such as South African abalone and blue fin tuna.)

So, two cheers for Citibank, who finally came round to the good side, after some severe prodding.

(For original refs, see SCMP letters on 28 July and 2 Aug 2010, and the bank's own letter announcing the change on 3 Aug.)

Martin Williams's picture

From Associated Press:

In April, the state of Hawaii in the United States banned the sale and possession of shark fin. The campaign is now gaining ground in Hong Kong.

Computer engineer Clement Lee set up a Facebook group in March urging locals to cut their gift money to newlyweds by 30 percent if they serve shark fin soup at their wedding banquets. The group now has more than 18,000 supporters. In July, he forced Citibank Hong Kong drop a shark fin set dinner discount for its credit card holders after criticizing the marketing campaign in another Facebook group.

And since June, Hong Kong environmental group Green Sense has signed up 182 primary and secondary schools for their "Sharks We Care" campaign, with the schools pledging not to serve shark fin at banquets and activities.

Responding to the new consciousness, local restaurants are starting to offer shark-fin free menus. Chinese restaurant chain L.H. Group said the response has been positive.

"We get a lot of inquiries and people interested in ordering the new menu weekly since we rolled out in May," said company spokeswoman Toby Kwan.

Local shark fin traders also say they are noticing the shift in attitudes.

"Our shark fin business has dropped considerably. Environmental groups are writing such bad stories about shark fin, a lot of people do not want to buy shark fin now," said Mak Ching-po, chairman of the Hong Kong Dried Seafood and Grocery Merchants Association.

Here's my reply - mediacritique101 [dot] wordpress [dot] com. Yay for shark fin soup! :D

Martin Williams's picture

Sadly, this "reply" is no such thing: no consideration of extensive info in this thread, just a silly, ignorant and ill-informed blog post supporting shark fin trade.

Cruelty is important. Yet so too is the shark fin trade's role in pushing many species towards extiction; notions of shark farming are just plain ill-informed: don't think you are original in suggesting this. If it was easy, or viable, would be happening now.

Chinese culture? Balderdash! - not Chinese culture of any antiquity; shark fin was formerly only for a very few, elite.

Tasty? I'm told shark fin alone is tasteless; just cartilage so you'd expect that. About all it does is add some texture to the soup, and of course adds some snob value.

See, thats what im talkin bout - self-serving bias. You flippantly brush off others opinions as silly and ignorant just because they run differently from yours. If you were so well-informed yourself, you would have known that shark fin soup dates back to the Ming dynasty and not just "Chinese culture of any antiquity". Its not only for "elites" but is also a signature dish at Chinese weddings and important occasion. For the Chinese, serving shark fin soup is a form of respect and honour to their guests. The fin may be tasteless, but food aint all about taste. texture is a huge component too. Shark farming as an idea is not original, but that does not mean I have to pass it off as a solution. If so, all the above comments can be deleted, people have brought them up before, where's the originality? Before rashly brushing off opinions different from yours, please have the sense to consider all angles.

Martin Williams's picture

Self-serving?
Hahaha, no you're wrong there - the self-serving ones are the people eating shark fin soup, and trying to defend the practice.

You did not reply to the above info; just pasted a comment.

So, how long have regular Chinese being eating shark fin soup? Not long at all.

Don't lump all Chinese together, either; there are people who are turning down shark fin soup as concerned about species' populations (and cruelty, just highlighted by SPCA here).

You're the one who hasn't considered the issue. Before "replying", try reading info and making a considered response.

See, thats what im talkin bout - self-serving bias. You flippantly brush off others opinions as silly and ignorant just because they run differently from yours. If you were so well-informed yourself, you would have known that shark fin soup dates back to the Ming dynasty and not just "Chinese culture of any antiquity". Its not only for "elites" but is also a signature dish at Chinese weddings and important occasion. For the Chinese, serving shark fin soup is a form of respect and honour to their guests. The fin may be tasteless, but food aint all about taste. texture is a huge component too. Shark farming as an idea is not original, but that does not mean I have to pass it off as a solution. If so, all the above comments can be deleted, people have brought them up before, where's the originality? Before rashly brushing off opinions different from yours, please have the sense to consider all angles.

Maybe you should look up how long is "not long at all" since you're not Chinese. Unlike you, im not making assumptions. did u read any line that says "ALL chinese" consume shark fin. no. what i wrote was how long the practice dated back and what it symbolizes to have shark fin soup at a wedding. please learn to read properly or you'll end up putting words into other's mouth and look foolish. it is one thing to fight against animal cruelty and another to slander the cultural practice of other race. it is insensitive people like you who give rise to extremists like al qaeda.

Martin Williams's picture

Again you make absurd "points".

It is clearly not "self-serving" to try to help protect another species! Equally obviously, nor is this an insensitive thing to do.
If there are actions arising from insensitivity or self-serving here, they surely relate to eating shark fin soup, purely for the texture of the shark fin, and feebly defending it without considering the various issues involved.

Your posts show that you are not responding to points in this thread, or you would have noticed, say:

A Cantonese correspondent tells me that, a far as he knows, the problem with shark fin soup has become prominent only since the 1980s. Certainly, it has been on menus before that, but only for the seriously rich; ordinary folks simply could not afford it. Now, with both increasing affluence generally in Hong Kong, and falling prices because the "fishery" effort has increased to profit from the market that has been created, it has been accessible to more. Hence the promotion of the soup as an indicator of wealth and prestige, of conspicuous extravagance.

Anyway, you have your own blog, so you can bluster as you wish on that; seems best given you do not really reply to info by others.

Hi, I know this is quite an old issue, but as part of my research study, I am studying this case. I was wondering whether you received a reply to this email from Disney? Thanks very much.