Environmentalists welcome PAL’s commitment to sustainable dev’t

Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Environmentalists welcomed Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) commitment to sustainable development in response to a petition at change.org against transport of shark fin.

“The announcement of PAL is also a victory for all sharks species who are brutally murdered for their fins. PAL, being Asia’s first airline and our flag carrier, will be taking a bold step and leading in marine conservation by ceasing the transportation of shark fins,” said Anna Oposa, co-founder of Save Philippine Seas and founder of the Shark Shelter Project in Malapascua Island.

She added: “This will also send a powerful message to the government and other airlines that the private sector can significantly contribute in sustainability efforts.”

The statement by Oposa’s group and similar organizations also said online pressure has prompted PAL to publicly announce its commitment to sustainable development approximately 12 hours after a petition at change.org against shark fin transport was launched.

According to the press release posted on the airline’s website and Facebook page on April 23, the country’s flag carrier will “formalize and strengthen a freight policy it has recently adopted to stop the shipment of shark fin in support of its overall commitment to sustainble development.

The statement also mentioned circulating “a policy for immediate implementation and strict compliance across the organization.”

“PAL takes the issue on protection and conservation of endangered marine life seriously, recognizing that the company’s long-term interest is and should be consistent with sustainable and responsible business practices,” PAL said in its FB page.

Oposa said public awareness combined with concerted social media efforts was instrumental to this development. PAL’s announcement against shark fin transport was a response to a call made through a change.org petition initiated by a network of environmental organizations called Save Sharks Network Philippines to implement a ban on carrying shark fins and other related products on all PAL flights. 

“What is important now is that PAL has publicly announced that they will commit to a total ban. The next step is to ensure that they will do so, and we are hoping to meet with them soon,” Oposa added.

Meanwhile, Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said, “PAL’s decision demonstrates the effectiveness of social media and public participation in protecting vulnerable species such as sharks. We are asking everyone to remain vigilant, see this victory through and make sure that PAL will honor its commitment,” said Vince Cinches.

He stressed, “A number of shark species are apex predators, and therefore help in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. Taking them out of the water will upset the already problematic status of our seas and oceans. Their survival has been threatened due to the growing demand for shark’s fin soup and other shark products.”

The petition posted by Save Sharks Network Philippines noted Hong Kong Government Census & Statistics Department data indicates that over 5,390 tons of shark fins were imported into Hong Kong in 2013, of which 14.86% was by air cargo. “According to a July 2013 report by the global wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the Philippines is a significant shark catching nation that exports about 73,320 kg. of shark products to Hong Kong annually. With the exception of a few species, shark fishing in the Philippines continues to be legal, unmonitored, and unregulated.”

“INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Program has advised that companies transporting these fins may be implicated in a crime. Until the legality and sustainability of sources of shark fin can be adequately accounted for, the network recommend all companies involved in logistics to suspend transport of shark fin as a precautionary measure and responsible business practice.”

The network will also continue its campaign until PAL releases the policy to the public and fully implements it. “The network is fully committed to assist them with these matters. We have also advised other local airlines not to take on such cargo as well,” added Cinches.


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