Reply To: Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy


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.