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Cathay Pacific statement on its restrictive carriage policy on sharks and shark-related products

20 Sep 2012

Cathay Pacific today reiterated that the decision to stop shipping unsustainably sourced sharks and shark-related products was made based on sustainable development considerations. The decision was made public two weeks ago.

Under the airline’s new restrictive carriage policy, it will only accept shipments when shippers provide proof that the products to be shipped are independently verified sustainable shark and shark-related products. The carrier expects the transition to this new policy will take approximately three months as it notifies shippers and puts the appropriate procedures in place.

Cathay Pacific Director Cargo Nick Rhodes said: “We didn’t make the decision lightly. We have been aware of and considering the issue for a long time. We have set up a Cargo Advisory Panel to bring in independent and expert opinion to help us do a comprehensive review – from a scientific perspective – of our policies related to transportation of animals and other sensitive cargo. There is compelling scientific evidence to support that this is the right thing to do for a company committed to sustainability. Specifically, due to the vulnerable nature of sharks, their rapidly declining population, and the impacts of overfishing for their parts and products, the threat to the shark species is real.”

The airline’s decision is based on scientific research provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN is an organisation that provides a neutral forum for governments, NGOs, scientists, business and local communities to find pragmatic solutions to conservation and development challenges. Within the IUCN, the specialist group which monitors shark populations has 160 members from 90 countries distributed among 12 ocean-region subgroups, all of whom are involved in fisheries management, marine conservation or policy development and implementation. The IUCN's report, “The Conservation Status of Pelagic Sharks and Rays”, provides compelling evidence that the majority of shark fishing is incompatible with our position on sustainable development. We are satisfied that there is presently no more comprehensive or authoritative report into the question and the threat to shark species is real.

“We focus on facts on sustainable development in our decision. We are implementing policies to support our words with tangible actions. We have no intention to challenge the legality of any other industries. Also the suggestion that our decision is based on a relationship with the Marine Stewardship Council is groundless.” Mr Rhodes adds.

Before the implementation of the policy, the airline carried approximately 300 tonnes a year of the products concerned which constitutes only a small portion of the shark fin trade.