Following Disney's decision to remove shark fin soup from wedding banquet menus in Hong Kong Disneyland, Brian Darvell aiming for further progress on shark fin issue - hoping more establishments will drop the soup. Here's an update he's just sent by email: [quote]Disney Reflections We have had time for some reflection on Disney's decision to drop SFS from their wedding banquet menu, but while we are pleased at heir change of heart we should not feel that their position is not without some wriggling.
From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-06/27/content_3141217.htm "Don Robinson, Hong Kong Disneyland's group managing director, said in a statement that the company's latest decision was "consistent with our ongoing commitment to conservation and responsible consumption practices." "Striking the right balance between cultural sensitivities and conservation has always been our goal," he said." The irony seems to have been lost on him. They swore blind that having it on the menu was also consistent. And there was precious little evidence that "balance" was an issue they took seriously, since they claimed it was respect for culture that forced their hand in the first place. All the intelligence I have received suggests that Disney are control freaks, and that it really irks that they could not contain this skirmish. We shall just have to keep a close eye on them in case of any backsliding. Can we trust them? By the way, this is the same Don Robinson who now claims he knows more about shark fin than most people. In just one day he personally received 3000 emails from protestors, and this crashed his email system. Well done, guys - nothing like a democratic education.
Onward As mentioned, and well taken up by Eric Bohm at WWF HK, hotels in HK are now being approached for a constructive response to the situation. However, according to the SCMP (2005-06-30): "Therese Necio-Ortega, director of communications at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong, said her hotel was looking at ways of encouraging people not to choose shark's fin, but said imposing an immediate ban on it would be impractical. Does that ring a bell? "We would have to explain to stakeholders why the [hotel's] revenue is going to be $100,000 less for the month," she said. "If we don't serve shark's fin, then the owners are going to say, 'Where can you recoup that $100,000?' Beyond that, what would happen to the shark's-fin trader? There must be alternative options before we just say, 'No, let's not serve it.' There must be positive solutions. We can't just leave some groups hanging. It is not fair." - which is where we started: profit. We have to ask whether the owners are happy with their complicity in the destruction of whole ecosystems for the sake of their money-grubbing? Will "stakeholders" be equally comfortable in making money out of a trade that is often criminal, certainly wasteful, and contradictory to any sense of balance and sustainability - as Disney have at last accepted? If you hold shares in such organizations knowingly, you share the blame. Impractical? Yes, it is not without pain that profit is given up for some minor conservationist issue. This is not a matter of fairness (read: somebody else making a profit that we have foregone!), it is a matter of taking a bold initiative, leading the way, demonstrating responsibility and a functioning conscience. Don't let greed for short term gain be the reason for long-term loss - for us all.
Reef Overfishing Just in case there is any doubt, there seem to be bigger issues than just sharks at stake: we are talking about the total collapse of reef ecosystems as real possibility. Recent studies are shoing that the removal of top predators has knock-on effects that we cannot calculate. Since the reefs provide a great deal of other food, as well as being part of even bigger systems, the prospects are indeed dire if "face" and ostentatious expenditure is allowed to continue to drive this destruction. See http://www.vanaqua.org/aquanew/fullnews.php?id=1967[/url] http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/308/5728/1621[/url] See also "A cautionary tale for whalers" at the end of http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18625043.900[/url] As Suzanne Gendron said: "We need sharks." Ignorance What is amazing is the number of people who have responded to this story by saying something like, "Where's the problem - sharks kill people, so it's alright to exterminate them, isn't it?" How sad. We have to work very hard to dispel the notion that we have any right to think like this. Going into a predator's domain has risks - very, very small as it happens in this case, compared with something like crossing the road or lightning strike. We are obliged to recognize those risks, not assume licence to drive species to extinction. Buffalo in Africa kill more people than do lions, but there are no calls to have them deleted from life's inventory. Coverage This continued for some time, gratifyingly, including a very interesting place: http://news3.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-07/04/content_3171628.htm[/url] We have sensitized the media to the issue, and we can all take advantage of this. Strike while the iron is hot. Let's see sparks!
Speaking of which, here's a bright one... Ken Hom Readers of the Guardian and others were treated to a routine, but predictably ignorant response by "celebrity" chef Ken Hom: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1516720,00.html[/url] I wrote to the Guardian as follows: I think Ken Hom has missed the point entirely (The Guardian, 29th June). He accuses those who address a conservation issue of hypocrisy because there are many other problems that cry out for action that he perceives is not taken. It is true that caviar, cod, swordfish, and many others, are of great concern and that drastic action needs to be taken to rectify the problems. We are all responsible for this, whether or not we personally eat such things (and I do not). However, one step at a time. I saw this as a winnable battle that would establish a precedent, set an example, and both make a contribution to an overall view of the way in which we should manage our dwindling resources and show that it can be done. The mere fact that other problems exist does not mean we should not try to fix individual issues. It also clearly does not mean that consumption of endangered species is justified by the fact that governments and individuals lack a sense of stewardship and responsibility. It certainly does not mean that we are hypocritical for making a visible effort on one point at a time. This is part of an educational process, and Mr Hom, with his vast following, is in a strong position to contribute to it. So, will you come out and say it, Ken? Do not eat Shark Fin Soup. The Guardian did not see fit to print this, at least, it does not apear on their website. However, I think the chances of Mr Hom retracting his view are slight. Do a search for "Ken Hom" +shark +fin on Google and you get plenty of hits. There is a vested interest: http://www.kenhomcooks.com/newyear/celebrations.html A sumptuous main meal, on New Years Eve, usually begins in the late afternoon. There are lavish servings of vegetables, chicken, fish and seafood with every imaginable traditional condiment and delicacy. Wealthy families even serve sea cucumbers, shark's fin and giant pork meatballs called "lions heads". - including book sales: http://www.tenspeedpress.com/catalog/all/item.php3?id=546 There are tied restaurants as well: Could anybody ascertain whether they serve shark fin soup in these establishments? If you can, ask the management to cease and desist in the name of survival. If not, a sticker on their windows would advertise their support for wanton death and destruction. An email address for Ken Hom himself would allow me to talk to him, if this can be found. Any knowledge out there?
I wonder where Martin Yan stands on this? According to [defunct link] "he certainly doesn't devour abalone, shark's fin or bird's nest every day" - which means he does some days. I think we could ask Martin for a similar declaration: do you have the guts, Mr Yan? Can you come out and say it? Do not eat Shark Fin Soup. If Disney can recant, so can Yan. (An email address for Mr Yan would also be useful, if anyone can oblige.) Local Action The Friends of Hoi Ha have written to Dr Sarah Liao, Secretary for Environment, Transport & Works, asking whether the HKSAR government can agree not to serve SFS at its official functions. "Therefore, we are calling upon the Hong Kong Government to follow the lead of Singapore and make a public statement that Sharks' Fin Soup will no longer be served at any Government banquets. The taking of this measure would enhance the Government's environmental credentials ..."
Dr Liao's official c.v. ( http://www.info.gov.hk/info/cv_setw_e.htm ) says: As SETW, Dr Liao is responsible for setting government policies in : • environmental protection and conservation first and foremost, so she has prime position for prompting the government to follow its own stated principles of sustainability and stewardship. I wonder if she has the strength of character? We can politely encourage her in this: