PAL announcement a victory for sharks around the world

Manila, Philippines, April 24, 2014— Online pressure has prompted the Philippines’ national airline, Philippine Airlines (PAL), to publicly announce its commitment to sustainable development approximately 12 hours after a petition at change.org against shark fin transport was launched by marine conservationists known as Save Sharks Network Philippines[1].

According to PAL’s 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.”

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

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[2] to implement a ban on carrying shark fins and other related products on all PAL flights.

In March 2014, representatives from the said network met with members of PAL Cargo to discuss shark fin transport, since the airline had no existing policies to address the issue. During the meeting, PAL said they would begin to move internally to have rules in place. They also claimed to have no data that they were transporting shark fins and related products because their cargo operations were outsourced.

The network closely monitored the airline’s activities. Last April 16, a Hong Kong-based NGO WildLifeRisk and a US-based NGO Fins Attached documented a large shipment of 136 x 50kg bags totalling 6,800 kg of dried shark fins at a Hong Kong warehouse run by a Hong Kong registered company, Global Marine.

The airway bill stickers on each of the 136 bags indicated that the shipment was handled by a Dubai-based freight forwarder, International Maritime and Aviation (IMA) and had entered Hong Kong en route from Dubai on Philippines Airlines (PAL Cargo). This was a move highly contrary to the airline’s earlier pronouncement.

The group believes that PAL picked up the dirty business of shipping shark fins to Hong Kong on the Middle East to Asia route which was commendably dropped for ecological reasons by Cathay Pacific and Emirates.

“Sharks help in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem.  Their dwindling numbers, due to the growing demand for shark’s fin soup and other shark products, already upset the  problematic status of our seas and oceans,” said Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. “We are asking everyone to remain vigilant and make sure that PAL will honor its commitment and advise other airlines to adopt a similar shark ban to help save our marine ecosystem.”   

 “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.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. PAL’s proposed policy will make it the 18th international airline to adopt similar measures to help preserve shark populations. Other airlines include Air New Zealand, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Swiss, FinnAir, Lufthansa, Lan Chile / LATAM Airlines Group, Eva Air, Aeroméxico, Emirates, Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qantas & Air New Zealand.

[1] Save Sharks Network Philippines is composed of the following organizations: Save the Philippine Seas,Greenpeace Southeast Asia,Philippine Animal Welfare SocietyMarine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines,Earth Island Institute – Philippines,Restore Outdoor Club,NGOs for Fisheries Reform,Dolphins Love Freedom,Asia Center for Sustainable Future, LaMaVe Project,A2d Project,Conservation International Philippines,Fins Attached: Marine Research and ConservationWildLifeRisk, Hong KongHumane Society International,Turtle Conservation Society of the Philippines, Inc., Hon. Raymond Palatino, PhilippineBeaches.org, and Harold’s Dive Center/Harold Mansion.

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One of our partners, Green Fins, has rebuilt their website to reflect the needs of users across the globe. 

The website offers quick and easy access to educational resources and top tips in the Tools and Resource section containing a bundle of free downloads. On the homepage, diving fanatics can find a live list of the top 10 most environmental Green Fins dive operators to choose from for their next holiday, or browse active Green Fins member details by diving destination. Project partners and Coordinators can log in to a database of dive centre environmental assessment data which also provides access to project management tools enabling them to oversee the project more effectively.

“We wanted to build something that helps promote the good work of the Green Fins dive centres and provide them with support and incentives to keep up the good work,” said James Harvey of the Reef-World Foundation. “At the same time, we wanted the website to be more interactive, helping diving tourists to make more responsible choices.”

Green Fins is an initiative of the UNEP and Reef-World to promote sustainable diving practices for the protection of coral reefs and marine life.

Diving tourists are encouraged to get involved in this movement and provide feedback on their experiences with Green Fins members by contacting info@greenfins.net or posting details on the Green Fins Facebook page.

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SPS will be holding its 2nd Arts-Science Festival in Malapascua Island, Cebu from May 11 to 15, 2014. The Festival teaches children and teens marine conservation through creative forms and promotes creativity and appreciation of nature outside the four walls of a standard classroom.

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Join the fun and spend your summer with a dynamic team of sea lovers and give back to Mother Nature! We are looking for Cebu-based volunteers who can teach the following subjects to elementary and high school students:

2 volunteers for Marine Ecosystem (high school or elementary)

2 volunteers for Climate Change (high school or elementary)

1 volunteer for Hydrology (elementary)

1 volunteer for a videographer

1 volunteer for Musical theatre

1 volunteer for Arts and Crafts Assistant Teacher

1 volunteer for Singing

Volunteer teachers must:

  1. Submit their proposed 3-day syllabus and culminating activity to Project Manager Aphol de Vera at apholdevera[at]gmail[dot]com and savephseas[at]gmail.com by Thursday, March 20
  2. Have classroom management skills
  3. Contextualize lessons to fit the local setting (Malapascua or Cebu)
  4. Incorporate various interactive activities per session (e.g., games, fieldwork around the schools, experiments, group work)
  5. Conduct pre- and post-surveys to gauge knowledge and progress (Day 1 and 3)
  6. Assign an output (e.g., simple project, essay, etc.)

For good samaritans out there who would also like to join our cause but won’t be able to fit in the Festival’s schedule, we are also open to sponsors.

Should you have questions or suggestions, feel free to send us an email or contact us through our social media sites.

Tumblr:                        http://blog.savephilippineseas.tumblr.com/

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/savephilippineseas

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/SavePHSeas

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Chinese New Year is just around the corner! A friendly reminder from Save Philippine Seas.

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GIFT IDEA: Donate on behalf of your loved ones to help rebuild an elementary school in Malapascua. Email savephseas@gmail.com for more information.

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We have closed the online registration for our ArtSea Workshops, but we will be accepting walk-ins on Saturday, November 16.

REQUIREMENTS:

Basic nature and photography workshop:

Any camera

Oil pastel workshop:

A set of oil pastels, available at your nearest bookstore.

You may also buy from SPS on the day itself (P80).

Watercolor workshop:

Water color set

Brush

Water color paper

All available at your nearest bookstore

Teacher Nikki Valenzuela recommends PRANG, which already comes with a brush. It costs less than P300.

Sea you there!

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