Merchants step up protest over Cathay Pacific's shark fin cargo ban

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 4:00pm

Shark fin merchants will stage their second protest in as many weeks today against Cathay Pacific's decision to stop carrying shark fins on its cargo flights.

The plan was announced as Cathay revealed shipment figures yesterday showing that the volume of shark fin it transported comprised only a small part of the global trade.

The merchants sought to step up their opposition despite admitting that the ban would not make a significant economic impact on their industry.

"The ban will greatly harm our industry's reputation," Marine Products Association chairman Ricky Leung Lak-kee said.

The protest will be held near the Admiralty offices of the Swire Group, a major shareholder of the carrier. The association will be joined by the Shark Fin Trade Merchants and the Hong Kong Dried Seafood & Grocery Merchants associations.

Hong Kong is a major hub for the global shark fin industry. Data from the Census and Statistics Department showed that 83 countries or territories supplied more than 10,300 tonnes of shark fin products to the city last year.

A Cathay spokeswoman said: "We will still take shipments when shippers provide proof that their shipments are independently verified sustainable shark and shark-related products."

The spokeswoman said the ban was based on a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a forum for governments, NGOs, scientists, business and local communities to solve conservation challenges.

"The report provides compelling evidence that the majority of shark fishing is incompatible with our position on sustainable development," she said.

Leung said he believed shark fin harvesting would not threaten the population.

"It is nonsense that fishermen will cause the extinction of shark species," he said. "The ban is based on lies from environmental groups."

Hong Kong Shark Foundation director Bertha Lo Ka-yan said "141 out of an estimated 500 shark species in the world are endangered or nearly endangered … This isn't something environmentalists are making up."