The Wall Street Journal: Cathay to Restrict Shark-Fin Shipments, 5 Sept 2012
Cathay to Restrict Shark-Fin Shipments
By JASON CHOW
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. joined the growing corporate movement against the shark-fin trade, following several luxury-hotel companies and supermarket chains.
The Hong Kong-based carrier said Wednesday it would “stop shipping unsustainably sourced sharks and shark-related products.”
“There is very compelling scientific evidence to support that this is the right thing to do for a company committed to sustainability,” the statement added. The airline said it expects it will take three months to inform its customers and begin enforcing the new policy, under which Cathay Pacific cargo planes will cease to carry any shark fin not certified as sustainably sourced by the Marine Stewardship Council, an independent nonprofit organization.
Hong Kong is the world’s center of the trade for shark fins, last year taking in imports of 10.3 million kilograms (22.7 million pounds) from 83 countries, according to the government statistics.
Shark fin is regarded as a status symbol and prized for its supposed abilities to improve skin health and enhance sexual potency. As incomes rise in Asia, it has become a more common ingredient at Chinese wedding banquets and lavish business dinners, mostly in soup. But conservationists have long campaigned against consumption of the fins, which they say drives overfishing of sharks to the point of endangerment.
In taking a stand against shipping the delicacy, Cathay joins luxury hotel chains Shangri-La Asia Ltd. and Peninsula Hotels, which have said they won’t serve it, and several supermarket chains in Singapore that have said they won’t sell it. The Chinese government said in July that it would stop serving shark fin at state banquets.
Environmental groups applauded Cathay.
“By doing this, they’re sending a strong message to the shark-fin trade,” said Bertha Lo from the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, a conservation group, who added it will help create a corporate “domino effect.”
“I think we’ll see more companies take a stand,” she said