Animal Rights Groups Help Inspire Hong Kong Shark Fin Soup Ban

At some point, all those “green” PR stunts might just pay off.

Over the years, groups ranging from the World Wildlife Foundation to Wildaid, The Humane Society International and Save Our Seas have mounted campaigns designed to raise awareness about the process of “finning”, or capturing sharks in bulk and cutting their fins off for consumption.

Chinese restaurants and pharmacies have long marketed cartilage-based shark fin soup as a cure-all that prevents everything from impotence to cancer, but its popularity has also led to a shortage in the world’s shark population that spurred animal rights groups to take action.

While the soup remains a popular delicacy at weddings, the campaigns of groups like WWF Hong Kong seem to be working.

Last year the Chinese government announced to plans to stop serving shark fin soup at official ceremonies, while earlier this summer various businesses like HSBC and Shangri-La Hotels made a pledge to forbid it at events in China and Korean Air Lines swore off transporting shark parts for consumption. Now the Hong Kong region, also known as the world’s capital of shark fin imports, will ban the dish at all official events and request that government employees refrain from eating it anywhere at any time.

Some say this is all a PR stunt by Hong Kong apparatchiks to convince people that civil servants don’t live extravagant lifestyles fueled by the perks of working within the Communist party. Others say it’s just another nail in the industry’s coffin after millions boycotted the soup inspired, at least in part, by these advocacy groups’ educational campaigns.

While we admire the unceasing work of the organizations that helped bring this change about, we can’t help thinking it might be easier to build a campaign around saving a more adorable animal…