Conservation activist Jessica Belsky started the campaign on Change.org to promote shark conservation during the popular "Shark Week" television series. Less than 10 days after the launch of the online campaign, the Food Network removed all shark recipes from its Web site and issued a statement on the future use of shark at the network.
"As a policy, Food Network and Cooking Channel do not incorporate or showcase recipes that involve animals on endangered species lists or the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list,” says Susan Stockton, Food Network Kitchens. With the recent addition of sharks to those watch-lists, we will make sure that future content does not highlight shark as an ingredient. We understand there are many species with sustainability concerns, and we make efforts to stay informed and pass that information onto our audience.”
More than 30,000 people joined the online campaign, many of them after the Food Network had already made the above commitment.
"We're thrilled that the Change.org platform has successfully connected people who care about the future of sharks to the Food Network, a brand that has a tremendous impact on popular culture," says Sarah Parsons, senior organizer at Change.org. "This is hopefully the first step in a longer partnership, and we're excited to see where it goes."
More than 650 people left comments on the Change.org petition.
"Not only are sharks vital (and arguably the most vital) participants in ocean ecosystems, they are also among the world's most endangered species," wrote Change.org member Annie Tasson. "There is no reason for the Food Network to use its public platform to support the consumption of shark meat."
Many sharks are threatened with extinction, with some species' populations plummeting by as much as 90% in recent years. Sharks are listed on the "Red/Avoid" section of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide, along with more than 20 other species of fish like bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass and orange roughy.
To view the Change.org petition, visit http://www.change.org/petitions/food-network-stop-featuring-shark-as-food.