HONG KONG (06 July 2016) — Two days ago the Hong Kong government proudly announced that it had seized a record 880 kilos (0.88 tonnes) of illegal hammerhead shark fin en route from Panama to Hong Kong, with Hong Kong as the final destination.
OPS has obtained the Bill of Lading which clearly shows the involvement of COSCO – one of the last remaining container shipping lines not to commit to implementing a ‘No Shark Fin’ carriage policy. A WWF-Hong Kong report released in May 2016 confirmed that 16 out of 20 of the world’s container shipping lines are now shark free, and COSCO was not on that list.
Exactly where the hammerhead shark fins came from before Panama is anyone’s guess, and the matter is still under investigation by the Hong Kong authorities. But what is known from tracking the container on COSCO’s own website is that the shark fins passed through Houston, Texas, on their way to Hong Kong.
A ban on the shark fin trade took effect in Texas last Friday, making it the first state on the Gulf of Mexico coast to enact a ban on the trade, joining 10 other states, mostly on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The law, passed with bipartisan support in the Republican-dominated legislature, makes it a criminal act to buy, sell, or transport with the intention to sell shark fin.
What the Bill of Lading also reveals is that the 880 kilos of CITES-listed hammerhead formed part of a much larger shipment of 4.9 tonnes of shark fin, shark tails and fish maw.
According to WildAid, quoted in a South China Morning Post, “This bust proves that no container shipping line or airline can ensure that outlawed fins are not being concealed inside shipments of other, identical looking, non-outlawed shark fins. As such we urge these companies to commit to a shark-free carriage policy immediately, in order to steer their trusted brands away from reputational risk and to protect sharks from extinction.”
The bigger picture is that one third of all sharks are threatened with extinction. That’s why last month Cathay Pacific finally saw the light, and after a six year long battle by conservationists in Hong Kong, they announced shark free. This was a significant milestone as Cathay Pacific Cargo is one of the biggest air cargo companies in the world.
The situation in our oceans is urgent. And that’s why now is the time for FedEx – and COSCO – to also step up and commit to protecting sharks and our oceans.
Therefore we urge:
-COSCO and FedEx to STOP shipping shark fin with immediate effect.
-COSCO and FedEx to operate their business morally, ethically and legally.
OPS commends the hard work and dedication of the Hong Kong authorities, notably the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department and Hong Kong Customs, for their hard work and dedication in successfully tracking and eventually busting this record large shipment of endangered hammerhead shark fin from Central America.
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