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Cathay Pacific to ban shark fin cargo

Environmentalists hail airline's decision

Dried shark fin on sale Dried shark fin on sale
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • September 7, 2012
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Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s largest air cargo carriers, thrilled environmentalists on Tuesday by announcing it would stop carrying shark fin.

It will take three months to implement the new policy, but the Hong Kong-based airline will immediately stop accepting new delivery orders for "unsustainably sourced sharks and shark-related products," it said.

Environmentalists estimate Cathay Pacific carried up to 50 percent -- or almost 650 tons --  of all the air cargo trade in shark fin last year.

The decision came after the airline received a letter in July from more than 40 international environmental organizations, pressuring it to set an “aggressive timeline” to stop carrying shark fin.

After investigating, the company found compelling scientific evidence to support its decision, spokesperson Elin Wong said.

“Specifically, due to the vulnerable nature of sharks, their rapidly declining population, and the impacts of overfishing for their parts and products, our carriage of them is inconsistent with our commitment to sustainable development,” Wong said.

The cargo ban will also apply to its subsidiary Dragonair.

Shark fin soup remains a popular delicacy for weddings and banquets in Chinese communities. In order to obtain these fins, fishermen catch sharks, cut off their fins and throw them back into the water to die.

Alex Hofford, director of MyOcean Ltd, a marine advocacy group which led the action, said eating sharks has “nothing to do with culture, only to do with cruelty and sustainability.”

MyOcean targets the use of all shark products, but “shark fin is a very large part of the trade,” Hofford said.

Hong Kong is the Asian hub for the shark fin trade, serving as the principal transit point to markets in mainland China.

A mainland financial news website recently reported that Beijing consumes the most shark fin. Local people eat 10 tons of shark fin and the sales amount to 100 million yuan (US$16 million) a day.
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