Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Power of a Petition: Singapore Air Rejects Shipments of Shark Fin

Asia has long been known as a hotbed for the exotic animal trade but has received global infamy for it’s role in the rise and support of the shark fin industry. Shark fin soup has been considered a delicacy in Asia since ancient times and even in the present day, many still consider shark fin soup to be a status symbol in Asia. A large percentage of the world’s shark fins originate from Asia and a large portion of fins harvested elsewhere, continue to end up in Asia as well.  While shark activists have identified Asia as a major culprit in the depletion of our ocean’s sharks, they are not the only guilty party, with some major corporations still supporting the trade.

Singapore Airline has been under fire from conservation organizations around the globe due to their environmental negligence of allowing shark fins to be transported on their aircrafts. It is estimated that millions of shark fins have been moved across borders aboard Singapore Airlines flights. Activists and organizations around the globe have banded together to apply pressure to this company and urge them to cease their support in this irresponsible practice. Michael Aw of "Ocean Geographic", and a Sea Save Foundation advisor has been instrumental in an international protest urging Singapore Airlines to ban the shipment of shark fins aboard their aircrafts.  Michael  drafted a petition urging the airline to discontinue it’s indirect support of the shark fin trade, which garnished over 40,000 signatures from activists all over the world.

On Sunday, June 29th, the Vice President of Singapore Airlines, announced that they will no longer allow the transportation of shark fins aboard their planes. “SIA Cargo has been carrying out a thorough review, taking into account the increasing concerns around the world related to shark finning. With effect from August 1, [SIA] will no longer accept the carriage of shark fin”, announced Nicholas Ionides, Vice President of Public Affairs. Ionides cited the growing support on the petition as one of the main reasons for the decision. With over 40,000 signatures on Michael’s petition alone, we have successfully pressure this major airline into a more environmentally friendly practice. “This is one monumental step forward, but we still have much progress to make” states Michael Aw , “There are still many corporations that need the same push to respect our ocean and planet and make the greener choice”. Singapore Airlines has also stated the increasing amount of protests in cities such as Los Angeles, Singapore and Bangkok, all cities that have been included in Michael’s awareness mission, contributed to the decision.

This is a massive win for the conservation community and our sharks, but there is still much to be done.  Our sharks are under siege from not only the shark finning industry, but also overfishing and bycatch, and we need your help to protect some of the critically endangered species of shark that are being affected.

Sea Save Foundation leaders have been working to raise awareness and stop worldwide shark finning.  The Sea Save Foundation petition  gathered almost 50,000 signatures and was presented to Governor Jerry Brown as he considered AB 376, a California bill that banned the sale and possession of shark fins. The Sea Save team has continued to fight back against the shark fin trade by supporting the CITES conference and working to get five threatened shark species protected under the CITES II Appendix.

The CITES success was quickly followed by several nations filing reservations, which mean they refuse to recognize the international decision which affords these species protection.  Let us keep the momentum going.  The power of a petition is limitless; please take a moment to add your signature to the linked  "Support CITES" petition.