Air New Zealand have confirmed that the airline will no longer transport shark parts effective immediately. “Given the small quantity of this product that is offered for carriage and the difficulty of confirming whether the source is sustainable or not, the decision has been taken to no longer accept shark fin for carriage.” It is estimated that 30 to 73 million sharks are killed annually to supply the global shark fin industry.
Air New Zealand had recently temporarily suspended carrying the product pending a review, after the New Zealand Shark Alliance had exposed the practice in local media. It is now announced it will not carry any fins, even if they have been harvested sustainably.
New Zealand, considered by many as a conservation-minded nation, is one of the top exporters of shark fins to Hong Kong. Under New Zealand law, it is legal to catch a shark, kill it, cut off its fins, and dump its unused body overboard. Environmentalists say the Government should use Air New Zealand's example to ban the activity.
Air New Zealand is the latest in a series of airlines to announce a change of policy. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific changed its policy in September to only accept independently verified sustainable shark and shark-related products. And Air Pacific, soon to rebrand as Fiji Airways, has also banned carriage of “unsustainably sourced” shark fins. Korean Air has recently reviewed is policy to stop the carriage of shark fins and Asiana Airlines (South Korea's second-biggest carrier) announced it would take the same step.
Some 99 countries have now banned shark finning, while nine nations and territories—the Bahamas, the Cook Islands, Honduras, Palau, the Maldives, Tokelau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia and New Caledonia—have all created sanctuaries prohibiting commercial shark fishing in recent years to protect the animals in their waters.