Shark Fin Soup may be an Asian Delicacy. But the International trade in shark fins is pushing several Shark Species to the brink, say Environmental Groups, as they urge Airline Companies to stop Transporting Shark Fins.
In a letter to Air India and Jet Airways, the Humane Society International (HSI-India) has asked the Airline Companies to have a policy against the Shipment of shark Fins and join a growing league of Environmentally Conscious Airlines.
The shark is to a Marine Eco-System what the tiger is to land, explains C Samyukta, a HSI wildlife campaigner. And since it is the top predator, it is important in keeping the balance of the eco-system,.
Come August, Singapore Airlines cargo will not accept Shipments of Shark Fins, joining a group of about 20 Airline Companies who have made similar public commitments. They include the Emirates, Philippines Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas and Air New Zealand.
India is a leading shark catching nation. So banning Shark Fin Transportation will help reduce the trade, and protect the Sharks, says Samyukta. Etihad has also committed to not carry Shark Fins and primates, says another campaigner, hoping that their ethical policy prevails over Jet, since they have an Alliance.
Jet Airways and Air India did not comment on the issue.
In earlier petitions to Airline Companies, groups like Shark Rescue and MyOcean Ltd have pointed out that shipping liners like Maersk and Taiwan’s Evergreen Line have also banned the carriage of all Shark Fin and shark related products on their container Ships.
Poor regulation of the Fishing Industry results in illegally finned and fins of endangered sharks often ending up in Shipments. And Interpol’s Environmental Crime Program cautions that Companies Transporting Fins may get Implicated in a crime. Until the legality and sustainability of sources of Shark Fin can be adequately accounted for, we recommend all companies involved in logistics to suspend transport of Shark Fin as a precautionary measure and responsible business practice, the petition said.
India banned shark finning a process where fins are cut and the bleeding shark is thrown back into the sea, where it dies a slow and painful death. But implementing the law at the State level continues to be a challenge, says Samyukta, as it is difficult to distinguish between Species.
Shark fins are not lucrative for the Fishermen, only traders benefit from their sale into lucrative markets in South East Asian countries. For the fisherman, every part of the shark finds a market from its bones (for medicinal purposes), skin (leather) and shark liver oil (cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses)
Vincent Jain, with the Association of Deep Sea Going Artisanal Fishermen, says that Indian Fishermen have moved away from target fishing of sharks. Of the 600 boats from Kanyakumari, most have diversified to catch other fishes, he points out.
The Association used to account for half the shark catches from India, but no longer, he says. Supporting the Finning ban,fisherman groups need to play a larger role in implementing the ban.
A National Mission for the Conservation of Sharks in India, comprising scientists and fishermen, has been created to take forward the finning ban, he says. They are scheduled to have their second meeting in Chennai.
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Mohini Porwal [ B Sc]
Trainee News Editor