Reply To: Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy


Email commentary just in from Brian Darvell:


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:
“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”.
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…


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