Hong Kong Disneyland has scrapped controversial plans to serve shark fin soup at the park hotel, a company spokeswoman said Saturday, following weeks of protests from environmentalists who say millions of sharks are needlessly killed each year to supply the trade in the traditional Asian delicacy.
Disney had originally planned to serve shark fin soup to customers who request the dish at their banquets at the park - scheduled to open Sept. 12, despite pressure from green groups urging it to remove the dish.
But a company spokeswoman, Esther Wong, said Saturday the park was "not able to identify an environmentally sustainable fishing source, leaving us no alternative except to remove shark's fin soup from our wedding banquet menu."
Wong said it would offer guests "other menu alternatives to meet the objective of creating a celebration, which reflected respect for Chinese customs."
Some green groups had earlier accused Disney of being "hypocritical" by serving shark fin while saying it cared about the environment. They denounce the practice of "finning," where fishermen hack off sharks' fins and dump the animals back into the water where they face certain death.
But Disney had defended its move, saying it was important to respect local culture and give a choice to its guests.
The company pledged to use only fins from responsible suppliers who killed the shark and use the entire fish as well as educated customers who wanted shark fin soup by giving them leaflets detailing the harm done by the industry.
Don Robinson, Hong Kong Disneyland's group managing director, said in a statement that the company's latest decision was "consistent with our ongoing commitment to conservation and responsible consumption practices."
"Striking the right balance between cultural sensitivities and conservation has always been our goal," he said.
Environmentalists also welcomed the decision.
(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2005)