Citibank Hong Kong has canceled its promotion of shark fin soup after activists cried foul, according to the New York Times.
The branch had offered Citibank card holders 15 percent off a shark fin soup dinner at Maxim’s Chinese Cuisine for the month of July. But the bank has since canceled the promotion early after activists used Facebook and an e-mail campaign to condemn Citibank for its willingness to promote a cuisine that conservationists say has placed shark populations worldwide in trouble
“Citibank is committed to managing our business in a manner that benefits the society and the environment,” Citibank said in a statement following its decision to end the promotion early, reports the New York Times.
Between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins to produce the high-end delicacy. Sharks are brought aboard ships where their fins are cut off. They are then thrown back into the water—often still alive—where they succumb to their injuries.
The trade is seen as the primary driver behind drastic declines in many shark species. The scalloped hammered population has dropped by 98 percent in some regions, while the oceanic whitetip shark has declined by 90 percent in the central Pacific Ocean and 99 percent in the Gulf of Mexico. The IUCN Red List has found that 32 percent of open ocean sharks and rays are currently threatened with extinction, a much higher percentage than either mammals or birds.
Recently Hawaii became the first US state to ban shark-fin soup outright given its environmental problems.
The move by Citibank is being seen as another proof of the growing power of ‘social media sites’ such as Facebook and Twitter. Food giant Nestle recently caved to demands to no longer source palm oil linked to deforestation after sustaining a month long campaign by social media sites, spurred on by Greenpeace.
(05/31/2010) Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, has signed into law a ban on shark-fin soup beginning July 1st, 2011, according to Reuters. The soup is currently served in a number of Chinese restaurants in Hawaii, but the trade has decimated certain shark species due to overfishing.
(03/23/2010) Only the porbeagle shark received protection today from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Seven other shark species failed to win international protection despite plummeting populations due to overfishing. Once again, Japan led the opposition to regulating the trade in white-tipped sharks and scalloped hammerheads, including two look-alike species: the great hammerhead and the smooth hammerhead. Japan has dominated the CITES meeting, successfully leading resistance to banning the trade in the Critically Endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna and against monitoring the coral trade.
(06/25/2009) The first global study of open ocean (pelagic) sharks and rays found that 32 percent of the species are threatened with extinction largely due to overfishing and bycatch, making pelagic sharks and rays more threatened than birds (12 percent), mammals (20 percent), and even amphibians (31 percent), which are considered to be undergoing an extinction crisis. The situation worsens when only sharks taken in high-seas fisheries are considered: 52 percent of these species are threatened.