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Philippine Airlines hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
Publication Date : 25-04-2014
Environmentalist groups on Thursday commended Philippine Airlines (PAL) for responding positively to an online petition against the transport of shark fins, joining a number of other Asia-Pacific carriers in taking a stand for marine conservation.
In a statement, Greenpeace said online pressure had prompted the flag carrier “to publicly announce its commitment to sustainable development” approximately 12 hours after a petition on the change.org website against shark fin transport was launched by the Save Sharks Network Philippines.
The group cited a PAL press release posted on the airline’s website and Facebook page on April 23 saying it would “formalise and strengthen a freight policy it has recently adopted to stop the shipment of shark fin in support of its overall commitment to sustainable development.”
The PAL statement also mentioned circulating “a policy for immediate implementation and strict compliance across the organisation,” Greenpeace noted.
Victory for sharks
“The announcement of PAL is also a victory for all sharks species who are brutally murdered for their fins,” said Anna Oposa, cofounder of Save Philippine Seas and founder of the Shark Shelter Project in Malapascua Island.
“PAL, being Asia’s first airline and our flag carrier, will be taking a bold step and leading in marine conservation by ceasing the transportation of shark fins,” she added.
Oposa said the PAL’s move would send a powerful message to the government and other airlines about how the private sector could significantly contribute in sustainability efforts.
Public awareness, combined with concerted social media efforts, was instrumental to this development, according to Greenpeace.
Shark fins are prized in certain markets like China and its territories, where they are used in soups and traditional cures. But animal welfare groups strongly oppose the trade, which usually involves taking only the fins and leaving the rest of the shark in the ocean to die.
Conservationists say that a booming demand for such fins has put pressure on the world’s shark populations, prompting calls for measures to restrict their trade.
In March, representatives from the network met with members of PAL Cargo to discuss shark fin transport, since the airline had no existing policies to address the issue, the group said.
In that meeting, PAL said it would begin to move internally to have rules in place even as it claimed to have no data of transporting shark fins and related products because its cargo operations were outsourced, Greenpeace said.
Protection of marine life
“PAL values the issue on protection and conservation of endangered marine life seriously, recognising that the company’s long-term interest is and should be consistent with sustainable and responsible business practices,” a PAL statement said.
Air New Zealand as well as South Korea’s two largest airlines, Korean Air and Asiana, separately announced last year that they would ban shark fins from their cargo flights, a year after Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific also stopped shipping them.
Fiji Airways announced last year it would no longer carry “shark fins and shark-related products sourced from unsustainable and unverified sources,” and would only carry fins from species not threatened with extinction.