HONG KONG • Budget airline HK Express has said that it will stop flying shark's fin cargo, making it the first airline to do so in Hong Kong, the capital of the world's shark's fin trade, the Sunday Morning Post reported yesterday.
The move is its declaration of support for the global campaign to ban the trade, the newspaper reported. HK Express is in good company, joining a growing list of airlines that have pledged to stop carrying shark's fin.
"This is really just a public show of support at this time to the people and organisations seeking to ban this cruel practice," HK Express chief executive officer Andrew Cowen told the paper, the weekend edition of the South China Morning Post.
He said it had already been "many years" since the airline had last flown shark's fins, while noting the "appalling cruelty" in catching sharks, cutting off their fins and throwing them back into the sea to drown in agony.
Mr Cowen also highlighted the importance of sharks in keeping the marine ecosystem in balance, the paper said.
Shark's fin is a delicacy among Chinese diners, with estimates of 30 sharks dying for every Hong Kong wedding banquet. But the shark's fin trade has taken a hit in recent years, largely due to a global backlash against the trade and the cruelty involved.
The Hong Kong government in September 2013 said it would no longer allow shark's fin to be served at official functions.
According to Hong Kong government data cited by the Sunday Morning Post, shark's fin imports to Hong Kong dropped by 42 per cent between 2010 and last year to 5,717 tonnes. During this period, there was also a 72 per cent drop in imports by air to 450 tonnes.
Thirty-five airlines worldwide have pledged to stop carrying shark's fin, including British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, the paper noted. Two other Hong Kong-based airlines, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, claim to follow a "sustainable" shark's fin policy rather than an outright ban.
In February, Orient Overseas Container Line, the shipping giant owned by the family of former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, announced it would stop carrying shark, whale and dolphin meat and products with immediate effect.