END PHILIPPINE AIRLINES’ CARGO OF SHAME! Urge Philippine Airlines (PAL) to suspend permanently their transportation of shark fins and other related products on all PAL flights.
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As the Philippines were winding down for the annual Easter Holy week retreat, on Wednesday 16 April 2014, a Hong Kong-based NGO WildLifeRisk and a US-based NGO Fins Attached documented a large shipment of 136 x 50kg bags totalling 6,800 kg of dried shark fins at a Hong Kong warehouse run by a Hong Kong registered company, Global Marine.
The airway bill stickers on each of the 136 bags indicated that the shipment was handled by a Dubai-based freight forwarder, International Maritime and Aviation (IMA) and had entered Hong Kong en route from Dubai on Philippines Airlines (PAL Cargo).
Dubai’s flag carrier, Emirates, already implemented a ban on transporting shark fin and related products in favor of conserving dwindling shark populations in June 2013 following a similar decision by Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific in September 2012.
Sadly it appears that this is a regular occurrence since a South China Morning Post dated 17 April 2014 quotes the director of Global Marine, as saying that “Global Marine received regular shipments, usually two to three thousand kilograms each, from Dubai and had used Philippine Airlines from time to time.” [Source: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1486043/philippine-airlines-urged-halt-shark-fin-cargo-after-65-tonne]
This leads us to believe that Philippine Airlines has cynically picked up the dirty business of shipping shark fin to Hong Kong on the Middle East to Asia route which was so commendably dropped for ecological reasons first by Cathay Pacific, and then by Emirates.
This incident is a serious breach of trust and confidence, as PAL internally committed to begin steps to ban the transport of shark fins and related products on all PAL flights during a meeting with environmental advocates on 17 March 2014 at their office. They also claimed that they did not have any data that PAL was transporting shark fins and related products because their cargo operations were outsourced.
A number of shark species are apex predators, and therefore help in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. Their survival has been threatened due to the growing demand for shark’s fin soup and other shark products.
Hong Kong Government Census & Statistics Department data indicates that over 5,390 tons of shark fins were imported into Hong Kong in 2013, of which 14.86% was by air cargo. Considering the number of flights that PAL has to and from Dubai via Hong Kong, PAL could be transporting a substantial amount of shark products through their flights, now that Emirates and Cathay Pacific have acted responsibly by committing publicly to go 'shark free'. According to a July 2013 report by the global wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the Philippines is a significant shark catching nation that exports about 73,320 kg. of shark products to Hong Kong annually. With the exception of a few species, shark fishing in the Philippines continues to be legal, unmonitored, and unregulated.
This is cause for serious concern. The tons of shark fins transported as cargo into Hong Kong on PAL flights is directly leading to the endangerment of shark species and the marine environment in Asia and beyond. Moreover, while it is true that not all sharks are endangered, poor regulation of the fishing industry results in fins of endangered sharks ending 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.
Let us urge PAL to go beyond internal commitment and the minimum as required by the law and announce to the public, a game-changing decision in the spirit of green living and sustainability, that they will stop transporting shark fins and shark products on all their flights. If PAL, Asia’s first airline and our flag carrier, will be bold enough to lead in marine conservation by ceasing the transportation of shark fins, other airlines will be inspired to follow. This will also send a powerful message to the government and other airlines that the private sector can lead in sustainability efforts.
A total of 17 airlines have now banned and/or regulated the transport of shark fins. These include; Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia, Fiji Airways, QatarAirways, KLM, Swiss, FinnAir, Lufthansa, Lan Chile / LATAM Airlines Group, Eva Air, Aeroméxico, Emirates, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas & Air New Zealand.
Let’s encourage PAL to becoming the 18th airline to ban the transportation of shark fins and related products!
Save the Philippine Seas
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
ANNA H. CABRERA
Philippine Animal Welfare Society
Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines
Earth Island Institute – Philippines
Restore Outdoor Club
NGOs for Fisheries Reform
Dolphins Love Freedom
Asia Center for Sustainable Future
STEVE DE NEEF
KAIRA Z. ALBURO
ENRIQUE A. NUNEZ, JR
Conservation International Philippines
ALEX ANTONIOU, Ph.D.
Fins attached: Marine Research and conservation
WildLifeRisk, Hong Kong
Humane Society International
Turtle Conservation Society of the Philippines, Inc.
Hon. RAYMOND PALATINO
Former Youth Legislator/ Blogger
Owner, Harold's Dive Center/ Harold Mansion
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