Global protest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 12:00am

Students who visit Mai Po and Hoi Ha Wan nature reserves will be encouraged to sign a petition organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong asking Disney Hong Kong to take shark's fin soup off its menu.

The signature campaign will be held alongside the conservation group's global online petition targeting its five million members worldwide which will start this week.

WWF Hong Kong chief executive officer Eric Bohm said representatives of Disney's US office had agreed to appeal to the head of the SAR theme park not to serve shark's fin soup until a certifiable sustainable supplier could be identified.

Mr Bohm said WWF had made it clear to the Disney officials that no such certifiable source had yet been found. 'Disney has a wide audience and should show its leadership in promoting sustainability. But tragically it has failed to do so,' he said.

'There will be an online petition starting this week. We are going to spread the message through our

e-mail newsletters to five million holders of WWF's Panda Passport. They will be able to sign the petition on the WWF website.

'In Hong Kong, we are going to encourage the students visiting our nature reserves in Mai Po and Hoi Ha Wan to sign the petition - until Disney Hong Kong agrees to take shark's fin off its menu.'

Approximately 20,000 students visit the two reserves each year.

A Disney Hong Kong spokeswoman said they had taken shark's fin off its menu but would serve the delicacy if requested by customers.

She said: 'We have communicated with different environmental groups in the past few weeks. Disney puts a lot of emphasis on environmental protection but it also respects local culture.

'Shark's fin is not on our menu. But if any of our customers request for it for their private banquets, we will serve it. At the same time, we are seeking any certifiable sustainable source of shark's fin.'

The theme park, which is due to open in September, earlier announced it would provide its diners with leaflets explaining the potential harm to the marine ecology caused by eating shark's fin.

According to WWF, 50 to 80 per cent of the global shark's fin trade goes to the SAR.

'We will approach the Shark Fin Merchants Association to see if we can work together,' Mr Bohm said.

WWF Hong Kong chairman Markus Shaw said: 'The Hong Kong Tourism Board can also help promote the sustainability of shark's fin consumption. It can do something to avoid encouraging people from coming to Hong Kong for the purpose of eating shark's fin.'

Local students have taken the initiative to protest against Disney's decision to sell shark's fin soup.

West Island School students are collecting signatures and have vowed to boycott the theme park.

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