Shark fins from endangered species of sharks including the endangered whale shark were found in a Singapore Airlines shipment to Hong Kong in May.
The discovery of the 2150 pound shipment of fins from Colombo, Sri Lanka via Singapore was first reported by Reuters and highlight the challenges Hong Kong faces in regulating the trade.
Singapore airlines, which ban shark fin cargo, said in emailed statement that the shipment had been labeled as “Dry Seafood”.
Hong Kong permits imports of shark fins, viewed as a delicacy, but shark species listed by the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) must be accompanied by a permit.
Hong Kong is the world’s largest trading hub for shark fins and has moved to stop illegal trading. Hong Kong warehouses can be found filled completely with bags of shark fins.
Gary Stokes, Asia director at Sea Shepherd, who discovered the endangered fins within the shipment, said: “This is another case of misleading and deceiving. The shipment came declared as ‘dried seafood’ so didn’t flag any alarms.”
Singapore Airlines said it had sent out a reminder to all its stations to immediately conduct sampling checks on shipments labeled ‘dried seafood’ and had blacklisted the shipper. The airline was not able to provide further details.
A Sea Shepherd investigation last year revealed that Maersk, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Australia Cargo, which ban transport of shark fins, were targets of shark fin smuggling including those from endangered species.
Over 70 million sharks are killed annually, pushing over a quarter of species into extinction according to WWF.
Despite activists helping to dent the volume of shark fins coming into Hong Kong by 50 percent over the past 10 years, illegal supply has continued to boom with the government seizing thousands of kilograms including those from threatened hammerhead and oceanic white tip sharks.