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Airline dumps shark's fin cargo

By Frances Cha, CNN
May 24, 2013 -- Updated 0753 GMT (1553 HKT)
Air New Zealand says it has suspended flying shark's fin cargo.
Air New Zealand says it has suspended flying shark's fin cargo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Air New Zealand suspends shark's fin cargo after complaints by environmental groups
  • Cathay Pacific suspended shark's fin cargo in 2012
  • Approximately 72 million sharks are killed each year for their fins

(CNN) -- The anti-shark's fin campaign is crusading on in Asia Pacific.

Air New Zealand has become the latest airline to stop flying shipments of shark's fin to Hong Kong, the shark's fin capital of the world.

The decision came about after the New Zealand Shark Alliance revealed the airline's shipments in local media.

"Air New Zealand has taken the decision to suspend the carriage of shark fins while we undertake a review of the issue," Air New Zealand spokesperson Andrew Aitken told CNN. "We have no further comment to make while this review is underway."

The topic is a particularly sensitive environmental issue in Hong Kong, the world's biggest market for shark's fin, as campaigns highlighting the cruelty and devastation stemming from the practice are becoming more and more successful.

Hong Kong is the shark\'s fin capital of the world.
Hong Kong is the shark's fin capital of the world.

Prominent hotels and restaurants in the city have been publicly striking shark's fin from their menus, while Hong Kong's main carrier Cathay Pacific also announced a ban on shark's fin cargo last September.

"Due to the vulnerable nature of sharks, their rapidly declining population, and the impacts of overfishing for their parts and products, our carriage of these is inconsistent with our commitment to sustainable development," said Cathay Pacific's statement at the time.

The Peninsula Hotels Group bans shark's fin from menus

Approximately 72 million sharks are killed each year and 10,000 tons of fins are traded through Hong Kong.

Conservation groups say there is still far to go in terms of education and awareness.

"We were delighted to hear that Air New Zealand is following suit of the Cathay Pacific announcement," Hong Kong Shark Foundation director Claire Garner told CNN.

"Airlines need to know what they're carrying and how they are impacting environmental sustainability."

"It can be quite tricky in terms of monitoring and managing shipping as shark's fin is transported in a dried form and the packaging can be made to look like other kinds of dried seafood," said Doug Woodring of the Ocean Recovery Alliance in Hong Kong.

"Decisions [like Air New Zealand's] can have a big impact on reducing consumption in Hong Kong."

Fiji-based Air Pacific was another airline that came under fire from environmental groups for carrying shark's fin cargo earlier this month.

A report in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said the airline had run a contest for Hong Kong weddings that didn't feature shark's fin in the menu (a popular wedding banquet menu item) and offered honeymoon flights to Fiji as the prize.

Air Pacific and New Zealand Shark Alliance were not available for immediate comment.

Shark finning thrives on Hong Kong rooftops

Yao Ming and Richard Branson call for shark's fin ban in China

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