Monday, September 16, 2013

The Turn of the Tide? The Race to Save Sharks Continues!

Hello everyone. I hope all is going well in your lives. This blog will have two shark topics! In an extension of my last blog, my friend Marie Levine of the Shark Research Institute wrote to me regarding the situation with airlines dropping the shipping of shark fins. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion that there could be in regards to the subject. Secondly there has been some big news coming out of China in regards to sharks and shockingly bluefin tuna as well.

Marie writes,

"Some 19 airlines are still significantly involved in shipments of shark fins to Hong Kong. In August, Alex Hofford, who isbased in Hong Kong, launched a campaign aimed at convincing air carriers to stop shipments of fins and enlisted the help of Shark Research Institute and other conservation organizations. Last month, letters were sent to the following airlines: Aeromexico, Air France, Air India, China Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Eva Air, Garuda, GolIberia, Iran Air, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Taps and United Airlines
 To date, two of those airlines responded. Emirates announced publicly on their website that they would go shark free on September 3, 2013. The second was Iran Air, who, although they have not publicized it, maintain that they do not carry shark fins and that they care very much for wildlife conservation. Please applaud their decisions via Facebook and Twitter; if we can generate positive buzz about their decision, it will encourage other airlines to follow their lead.
 And if you fly on any of the airlines on the list, please, please, call them and ask them what the status is with regard to transporting shark fins to Hong Kong. The next shark free airline could be just around the corner!
 Good luck, and let's push the airlines together"

If you are interested in writing to any of these airlines, Marie was kind enough to also send me a sample letter that I will share with you all!

Here is the sample letter....

Dear Sirs & Madam,
 We are writing on behalf of a global coalition of animal protection, shark and marine conservation groups, with regard toyour airline’s commitment to sustainability.
 As one of the world's leading airlines. We applaud your commitment to sustainable development, but there is an aspect of your operations that directly contradicts the airline's commitment to the environment, which is the carriage of shark fin and related products on flights to Hong Kong. This is serious, given your commitment to protecting the environment. Simply put, the tons of shark fins transported as cargo into Hong Kong is directly leading to the endangerment of shark species and the marine environment in the Americas, Asia and beyond.  Hong Kong Government data indicates that over 1,162 tonnes of shark fin were imported into Hong Kong in 2012, of which 14.1% was by air cargo.
 As you may already know, Cathay Pacific Airways took a great step in the right direction last September by making a public commitment to stop carrying shark fins and related products on its subsidiary airline, Cathay Pacific Cargo. (It has long been banned from the passenger services of Cathay Pacific Airways, Dragonair and Air Hong Kong).
 As recently as June, size more airlines have followed in Cathay Pacific's brave steps; Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways and Emirates. Of these six airlines, we would particularly commend Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates and Qantas for implementing an across the board 'blanket ban', rather than a so-called 'sustainable fins only' ban.
 And it is not just airlines that are moving in the right direction. Shipping lines are too. In 2010, Maersk announced a total ban on the carriage of all shark fin and shark-related products on their container ships. In July 2013, Evergreen Line of Taiwan did the same.
 We need your help in cutting the supply chain of shark fin to Hong Kong.
 At the recent meeting of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which concluded in Thailand on March 14, 2013, several shark species were granted protection, as they have been pushed ever closer to extinction by the shark trade.   Not all sharks are endangered. However, due to poor regulation of the fishing industry, illegally finned and fins of endangered sharks often end up in shipments. INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Program has advised that companies transporting these fins may be implicated in a crime. Until the legality and sustainability of sources of shark fin can be adequately accounted for, we recommend all companies involved in logistics to suspend transport of shark fin as a precautionary measure and responsible business practice.
 We therefore request that you publicly commit to ending the transportation of shark fin on all your flights. We further request that you set an aggressive timeline to stop the transportation of all shark fin and related products, and publish this in the 'News Releases' section of your website.
 On behalf of everyone in the 60 conservation organizations in this campaign and all our supporters, please, stop carrying shark fin and related products from all your flights.

Now for what has come out of China. The government of China has decided that it is going to get on board with green living and sustainability. In a rather surprising move, the government of China has decided to ban both shark fin soup and bluefin tuna at all government functions. The hope that myself and other conservationists have is that this could be the start of something big in China. China is the shark fin capital of the world and for them to ban shark fin soup from all government functions is a big step in the right direction in the fight to save these animals. If the government follows the rules they lay down, there could be a ripple effect in which fewer and fewer celebrations will serve shark fin soup (and bluefin tuna for that matter) and eventually it's possible that many restaurants would also drop the soup. The demand for fins are dropping as is and this will do nothing but further drive down that demand. The press release from the Chinese Government can be found here...

The airline campaign coupled with the Chinese Government cracking down on corruption and banning shark fins at official government functions has led to a sharp drop in the demand for shark fins. The shark conservation movement keeps picking up steam and that is nothing but good news for the sharks.   

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