Forest & Bird praises Air NZ shark fin suspension

Media Release

Forest & Bird

24. May 2013


Forest & Bird congratulates Air New Zealand on its decision to immediately stop transporting shark fins while the airline reviews its policy around the issue.

gimp3_turkForest & Bird has been talking with Air New Zealand since early May about banning transportation of shark fins. This announcement follows a news item last Sunday (May 19), in which the airline was criticised for having flown shark fins. Shark fins are commonly used to make soup in Asia.

The airline Cathay Pacific has already committed to not carrying shark fin products. “Air New Zealand’s move is really good news,” says Katrina Subedar, marine biologist and Forest & Bird Marine Conservation Advocate.

“Shark finning is hugely wasteful and puts the very survival of some of our shark species at risk.

This move also highlights the fact that any connection to the unsustainable practice of shark finning represents a reputational risk to all businesses.

“Right now, in New Zealand it is legal to cut the fins from a shark and dump its unused body overboard if the shark has been killed.

“Shark finning is banned in nearly 100 other countries and states. It’s shameful that shark finning is legal within NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but illegal for New Zealand fishing boats outside our EEZ,” says Katrina Subedar. Air New Zealand’s policy until now has simply been not to carry fins that were deemed “unsustainable”.

Forest & Bird, as part of the New Zealand Shark Alliance, is campaigning for a law change that would ban the practice of shark finning. This means that fishers who don’t fully process sharks at sea would have to bring sharks back to shore with their fins naturally attached, and fully use the shark. “It is high time that all those local businesses that profit from this extraordinarily wasteful practice cut their ties with shark finming,” says Katrina Subedar.

New Zealand is one of the world’s top 20 exporters of shark fins. These shark fins are often transported by air, but also by boat. “This action by Air New Zealand is hugely significant, and we will be talking to New Zealand shipping companies about their policies on shark fins,” says Katrina Subedar.

“Our government also needs to acknowledge the massive amount of public ill-feeling towards shark finning and the unsustainability of this wasteful practice, and change the law.”

Representatives from seven of the eight political parties in Parliament signed a pledge in December last year committing them to support such a law change. However, the National Party refused to sign the pledge.

It’s estimated that 100 million sharks are caught around the world every year solely for their fins.

The practice is widely condemned for causing a significant global decline in shark populations.

Source: Forest & Bird


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