Cathay Pacific Airways has joined a growing global movement against the destructive shark-fin trade by banning all unsustainably sourced shark products from their cargo.
This bold move follows a letter to the airline from over 40 international conservation organisations, and demonstrates the power of advocacy to bring about change.
Soup's off the menu
Many species of shark are caught only for their fins, so fishermen will cut off their dorsal fin and then throw the sharks back into the sea, where they will die a slow and agonising death.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year – largely to feed the Asian market's demand for shark-fin soup, where it is considered a delicacy. But in Hong Kong, the hub of the trade, conservation groups are slowly making progress. A growing number of luxury hotel and supermarket chains have banned the soup.
And in a surprising move six weeks ago, the Chinese government said they would stop serving shark-fin soup at official banquets in mainland China.
One small step for sharks, one giant leap for conservation
Cathay Pacific will still be carrying shark products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which has been criticised for having questionable certification procedures. And the volume of shark products affected by the ban pales in comparison to the total amount imported into Hong Kong last year.
But the importance of the ban goes beyond its direct effect: small but very public steps like this one add momentum to the push for banning shark fin everywhere, and it sends a strong message to the shark-fin trade.
Check out the report from CNN:
Read more:The IHT has more details of this heartening news and what it means for sharks.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, CNN, Pew Charitable Trusts, New York Times, Guardian, International Herald Tribune