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The Green Life: The Food Network Pledges to Stop Serving Shark

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August 16, 2011

The Food Network Pledges to Stop Serving Shark

Whale shark This summer has been a bit of a boon for shark-conservation efforts. Those of us in San Francisco have seen ads featuring Yao Ming saying "no" to shark-fin soup, and the Discovery Channel’s 24th Shark Week was a huge ratings success, thanks in part to its comedian host, Andy Samberg.  

All the media attention seems to be paying off: Last week, the Food Network announced that it'll remove all shark-fin recipes from its databases in response to a Change.org petition. The petition, started in late July by conservationist Jessica Belsky, noted that a third of shark species are in danger of extinction, and "we have no business eating these threatened swimmers."

In just a few weeks, the petition got more than 31,000 signatures and 670 comments. The Food Network took note, issuing a press release promising to remove all shark recipes. "As a policy, Food Network and Cooking Channel do not incorporate or showcase recipes that involve animals on the endangered species list or the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list," wrote Susan Stockton, a channel representative. "With the recent addition of sharks to those watch lists, we will make sure that future content does not highlight shark as an ingredient."

It's remarkable that an entirely grassroots message from regular people on an activist website sparked the network's decision, a good reminder of how big numbers of little people really can make a difference. Citizen power! 

--Mimi Dwyer

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