In what environmental activists will no doubt see as a major victory, Air China has become the first airline in China to ban shark-fin shipments. This is no small thing: It carried nearly 90 million passengers in 2016, and throws it weight into the ring with no less than 35 other airlines and 17 global shipping companies in supporting the ban. Speaking with the Washington Post, Alex Hofford of Hong Kong conversation group WildAid calls it a “bold move” that’s “likely to have a huge and lasting impact on shark populations and marine ecosystems worldwide.”
Like countless other ocean animals, many species of shark are facing possible extinction as the situation in the world’s waters grows more and more dire. Some 73 million are slaughtered every year just for their fins, a disproportionate number of which end up in China, where shark-fin soup is a delicacy. China Air’s decision is significant, if not entirely unprecedented: The Chinese government banned shark-fin soup at state banquets in 2012, and the state-owned China Cosco Shipping banned shark fin in July. In the United States, where shark-fin soup has received significant attention, shark-finning was made illegal in 2000 and, more recently, Congress introduced legislation to ban the trade last year.