Shark Soup Is Off the Menu at Hong Kong Disneyland -6/25/05 (Free registration required for link!)

After weeks of criticism from environmentalists in Hong Kong and around the world, Hong Kong Disneyland announced late Friday night that it was canceling plans to serve shark's fin soup at wedding banquets in the park.

The environmentalists pointed to scientific research linking shark fishing to steep declines in some of the world's largest shark species, including basking sharks and great white sharks.

Hong Kong Disneyland said that after careful research, it had concluded that shark fishing could not be conducted in an environmentally sustainable way.

"Striking the right balance between cultural sensitivities and conservation has always been our goal, and we believe this decision is consistent with our ongoing commitment to conservation and responsible consumption practices," said Don Robinson, the group managing director of the park

Paul Watson, the founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Friday Harbor, Wash., said that Disney seemed to be returning to its corporate roots. "That's a decision Walt Disney would have made, because I think he was genuinely concerned about the environment and nature," he said.

Irene Chan, the Hong Kong park's vice president for public affairs, said that the park had looked without success for a way to buy shark fins in an environmentally responsible manner, although she said the company would continue to review its decision on the issue.