Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy

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    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

    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. For NOAA’s Shark Web site, go to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sharks/. References: Animals Asia http://www.animalsasia.org 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. 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.

    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_resolutions.htm.

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


    From Brian Darvell:

    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.



    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 M. Gendron
    Foundation Director
    Ocean Park Conservation Foundation
    The Conservation Arm of Ocean Park


    more from Brian Darvell:

    100,000,000 a Year x 1000 Words http://www.scdc.org.hk/hongkong/sharkfin_grisly.html Fresh Fish Epcot has a "dine with the fishes" Coral Reef Restaurant ( http://www.allearsnet.com/menu/menu_cr.htm ) 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&Itemid=84 ) – 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/0,13673,501040531-641219,00.html 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 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.

    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&Itemid=82 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.


    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.


    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 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/business/worldbusiness/17shark.html?ex=1119672000&en=a2ea8499f53942a6&ei=5070&emc=eta1 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=0&Itemid=82

    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


    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 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&Itemid=82

    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


    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 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 Oh dear.

    Curiosity (2) On http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/10120/newsDate/16-Mar-2001/story.htm 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 , 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 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 http://www.rsmas.miami.edu

    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.


    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:


    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 The news travelled around the world rapidly, appearing on the BBC website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4622097.stm , 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.


    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.


    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&Itemid=82 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

    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?


    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=0&Itemid=79


      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)



      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


        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.


        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?

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