Disney Hong Kong and Shark Fin Soup Update

Here’s an interesting article that shows that the protests and bad media may be having an effect:

- HK Disneyland considers serving only shark fins obtained by non-cruel means

- HK Disney answers soup critics (June 9)
Disney will only serve legally-harvested shark fin, and will hand out pamphlets to interested parties

On my personal website, I’ve posted a template for a letter you can e-mail to Disney executives (easy, one-click e-mail links also included).

And speaking of protests and media campaigns, Wetpixel member Jason Grimes is also organizing a letter-writing campaign.  Contact Jason at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you are interested in getting involved.

—- Message from Jason Grimes—-

Disney Plans to Sell Shark Fin Soup

In September 2005, Disney plans to open Hong Kong Disneyland to spread the joy of the Magic Kingdom in Asia. Unfortunately, in May 2005, Disney announced that shark fin soup will be on the menu for business dinners, special events, and weddings.

According to the BBC, Greenpeace and the Worldwide Fund for Nature have urged Disney to take the soup of its menu and to more to help educate the public about the issues. Many other organizations are now involved and have organized protests and threatened boycotts. Disney has rejected the complaints, claiming that the dish is an integral part of any Chinese banquet. Their publicity machine has this to say:

“Hong Kong Disneyland takes environmental stewardship very seriously but we are equally sensitive to the local cultures. It is customary for Chinese restaurants and 5-star hotels to serve shark fin soup in Hong Kong as the dish is considered as an integral part of Chinese banquets.’’ (Esther Wong, Public Relations Manager. Quote also attributed to Irene Chan.)

Essentially, Disney is hiding behind the cultural practices of another nation to offer a very profitable menu item to the wealthy elite while shark populations are rapidly shrinking on a global scale. If you are a scuba diver, you probably already know that greedy fishermen cut off the shark’s fins and dump animal back into the sea, often while it is still alive. Several threatened species will be placed on the brink of extinction if the current trends continue.

Eating shark fin soup is a deeply-rooted cultural practice in China and the growing economic middle class has created an increased demand. There is no excuse for Disney to participate in—and profit from—this shameful practice. Several groups around the world are mobilizing to put pressure on Disney about this issue and the global diving community has a responsibility to get actively involved and assist in that effort. At this very moment, several WetPixel members are contacting industry leaders, dive clubs, and organizations to create a quick, easy method that you can use to voice your opinion and deploy our collective strength.

Hong Kong has refused to sign laws banning this practice and is currently the world’s largest trader in shark fins. The Disney corporate policy states they will “work to identify issues that may not yet be identified in the law, but could result in adverse environmental effects.”  Simply put, despite making substantial financial profit from Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid, Disney is contributing to the extinction of many species.

Contact Jason Grimes at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you are interested in getting involved.

For more, please read:
A.    http://www.seashepherd.org/editorials/editorial_050528_1.html
B.    http://news.yehey.com/news3.asp?c=4&i=86701