Cathay Pacific bans shark fin carriage

THERE was a time when airlines such as Singapore Airlines would serve shark fin soup to the well-heeled in first class. But that had long been taken off the menu in the early days when animal activists made much of the cruelty in harvesting the fin.

Today, Cathay Pacific Airways officially bans the carriage of unsustainable shark products including shark fin. In a statement that it issued on Sep 4, the Hong Kong-based carrier said: “Due to the vulnerable nature of sharks, their rapidly declining population, and the impacts of overfishing for their parts and products, our carriage of these is inconsistent with our commitment to sustainable development.”

 

The ban takes immediate effect but would take three months to be in place.

Apparently Cathay received a petition from 41 international environmental organizations to stop the carriage. Hong Kong government statistics showed that Cathay was responsible for carrying 650 tonnes (64%) out of a total 10,200 tonnes of shark fin imported into Hong Kong.

Cathay said it had studied the issue for “a very long time” and its decision was “based on scientific data.”

However the decision was arrived at, it is a commendable move on the part of Cathay to demonstrate the social responsibility that a company must assume even if it means foregoing money-making opportunities and angering traders using their service.

Air transportation provides a necessary link in moving such products to where they are demanded. It is hoped that Cathay and other airlines will heed the call of environmentalists to not only stop the carriage of shark fin but also tighten procedural loopholes and implement stringent checks to prevent the illicit carriage of live endangered animal species.

Good job, Cathay!

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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