Fiji airline outed for role in shark fin trade
Air Pacific, Fiji’s international airline, has been accused of hypocrisy for backing shark conservation for public relations while flying shark fins to Hong Kong.
Last year the airline sponsored “Happy Hearts Love Sharks,” a contest run by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, which was aimed at encouraging newlyweds to set an example by not serving dishes containing shark fin during wedding banquets. The international trade in shark fin, centered in Hong Kong, is blamed for decimating shark populations.
For Air Pacific the competition was an ideal opportunity to promote their twice-weekly direct flights to Hong Kong by offering free tickets to Fiji to the winners. Trumpeting its support on competition website, the airline said: "We are proud to support the Happy Hearts Love Sharks wedding contest, because shark tourism is an important source of revenue for the local economy and because Fijians have long respected sharks.
"Our ancestors viewed sharks as gods who kept the community safe from harm and they would feed sharks, not hunt them. Today, this tradition is continued by local villages having jobs as shark feeders who dive with tourists so that they can experience the beauty of sharks in their natural habitat."
But just five months later, Air Pacific's environmental boasts have a hollow ring as a letter signed by a coalition of environmental groups accuses it of carrying shark fins as cargo on passenger flights to Hong Kong.