A few days ago, the press conference of Houston Rocket's basketball player Yao Ming speaking out about shark fin soup. (Xinhua 8/2) He basically joined up with Wildaid and said that he would not eat it anymore because it leading to the unsustainable killing of sharks for their fins.
The New York Times is running an article about this and the potential controversy brewing. (NYT 8/13) Since shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, naturally there are some who disagree. And with any such endorsements, there'll be some controversy. But I am not sure why the NYT thinks it's so unusual. While it is uncommon for folks to speak out publicly and in high profile fashion about controversial issues, most environmental issues are not really that controversial anymore. Environmentalism is just about to become a mainstream cause, with a significant amount of environmental awareness at least among the younger folks, especially university students. I have also seen a number of television advertisements in China about endangered species featuring Jackie Chan, and if I recall correctly, 110 Olympic gold medal hurdler Liu Xiang, speaking out on endangered species trade, including their use in traditional Chinese medicines. Maybe, more people like shark fin soup . . .