Operation Apex Harmony is Sea Shepherd’s global shark defense campaign. A three month Operation Apex investigation finds that huge shipments of illegal shark fins are continuing to arrive in Hong Kong via shipping lines and airlines that have committed to the “No Shark Fin” Ban.
In 2010 Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line, was the first to commit to the shark fin ban and 16 worldwide shipping lines followed their example. This is important because approximately 92% of shark fins arrive into Hong Kong by sea, shipments entering by air account for the remaining 8%. (photo – South China Morning News- Sea Shepherd)
Despite Ban Shipments Continue
“Maersk Line is committed to enforcing our policy not to carry sharks fin products on our ships. It is frustrating that some traders seemingly mis-declare the cargo they intend to ship with us … to get around the restrictions we have put in place. However, we are grateful to Sea Shepherd for their investigative work to highlight this problem and we are working with Sea Shepherd and other NGOs as well as with HK Customs and other stakeholders to tighten our procedures to ensure the ban we place on carriage of shark fin is effective in the future,” said Tim Smith, chairman of the North Asia region, Maersk. (photo – Sea Shepherd Global)
It is not surprising that passing the shark fin carriage ban was the easy part, the more challenging aspect is to enforce the ban. Although recent media coverage indicated that the ban was working, Sea Shepherd was seeing evidence to the contrary. Spurred on to investigate, Sea Shepherd discovered the arrival of large shipments of illegal shark fins, including two 45-foot Maersk containers arriving from the Middle East as well as air shipments arriving via Virgin Australia and Cathay Pacific. In these instances the shipments had falsely been described as “fish products” by the exporters.
Shark Fin Traders Fraudulently Declare Shipments
“It’s so sad what the team at Sea Shepherd has managed to discover. Thousands and thousands of sharks slaughtered just for their fins to be turned into bowls of soup. For those people who have knowingly participated they need to hang their heads in shame. For Sea Shepherd and the team led by Gary Stokes, they need to be congratulated for exposing this foul and sometimes illegal trade,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. (photo – EPA)
The issue of purposefully mis-declaring their illegal shark fins shipments along with some airlines like Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines still resisting adoption of the shark fin carriage ban means that the illegal trade continues with catastrophic results for the world’s diminishing shark populations.
Maersk, Virgin and Cathay Pacific are all working with Sea Shepherd Global and Wild Aid to close the loopholes that are being exploited by shark fin traders. The World Customs Organization is being called on to change its practices to better track shipments into Hong Kong and make it easier for customs officials to enforce the shark fin ban. And Sea Shepherds continues its investigation into the supply routes that supply the global shark fin trade. See the entire article on EcoWatch.
Blue Ocean recently posted that China Airlines had joined with numerous other global airlines to ban the shipment of illegal shark fins.Read this: Air China Bans Shark Fin Cargo and these related Blue Ocean posts:
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