Hong Kong Disneyland shark fin soup controversy

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  • #8509

    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.

    #8518

    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.)

    #8521

    From Associated Press:

    Quote:

    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.

    #8583
    Anonymous

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

    #8584

    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.

    #8585
    Anonymous

    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.

    #8586

    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.

    #8587
    Anonymous

    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.

    #8588
    Anonymous

    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.

    #8589

    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:

    Quote:
    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.

    #8697
    Anonymous

    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.

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