Hong Kong shark protectors target Air Pacific
Environmental groups in Hong Kong say Air Pacific is feeding the unethical trade in sharks fin by transporting sharks fin to the territory.
Environmental groups in Hong Kong say Air Pacific is feeding the unethical trade in shark-fin by transporting shark-fin to the territory.
Alex Hofford of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation says the group has strong suspicions sharks fin has contributed to the big rise in the airline's cargo volumes.
He told Sally Round the Hong Kong government welcomed Air Pacific's new aircraft recently by saying close aviation links meant Hong Kong people were able to enjoy various seafood products from the region, and that included not only fish but fishery products.
ALEX HOFFORD: If it was just fish that would be a different thing altogether. But usually on the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department shark-fin is listed as 'fishery product' or 'dried seafood'. So that leads us to suspect... We can't say absolutely 100% that it definitely is shark-fin, but all evidence points to that being the case. We received a letter from the PR of Air Pacific saying 'Thanks. We've noted the content of your letter and we'll get back to you shortly'. They didn't actually write back and say 'No, we don't carry shark-fin'. I wish they could have done, but that is also another reason to believe that they are carrying it.
SALLY ROUND: Obviously, Air Pacific has to make money somehow, and that is through carrying cargo and passengers. If the demand is there in Hong Kong for shark-fin, what's wrong with them carrying it?
AH: It's unethical, because it's leading to the decimation of an entire species. Just because it's not illegal doesn't mean it's not a bad thing.
SR: Cathay Pacific, they stopped transporting shark-fin at the end of last year. Was that due to pressure from environmental groups?
AH: Yeah. It was exactly the same, basically. It was the same bunch of organisations. And the letter that we sent to Air Pacific was pretty much modelled on the same letter that we sent to Cathay Pacific last year, just with a few minor changes. In September of last year they announced that they would suspend all carriage of shark and shark-related product.
SR: How big is the shark-fin market in Hong Kong?
AH: Well, it's huge. Estimates say that about 50% of all shark-fin traded globally passes through Hong Kong. Much of it is destined for mainland China. So the demand is growing, and they can't get their hands on enough of the stuff because the populations of shark are decreasing, but also they're opening up more trade routes around the world, and Fiji is a new one that's just opened up.
SR: Do you think it's fair, with the airline trying to increase its trade on the Hong Kong to Fiji route for you to go in all guns blazing about this issue when you're not even sure that they are actually carrying unsustainable fishery products like shark-fin?
AH: Well, they haven't denied that they're carrying it. And we also think it's quite hypocritical for them to be carrying it because on their website it publicly states that they're working hand in hand with some local NGOs in Fiji to improve the marine environment. Their corporate social responsibility doesn't really sit well with their business activities re: shark-fin.
SR: But you don't even know for sure whether they're carrying it.
AH: We know that it's a fishery product, and it sure as hell isn't pineapples or furniture that they're bringing to Hong Kong. We've got it on good evidence from pilots that I know that have been working for Cathay Pacific. And one of the pilots that I know actually hails from that part of the world. He knows for sure that shark-fin is being carried on Air Pacific.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: