Nearly a ton of shark fins from endangered species were smuggled in a Singapore Airlines shipment, it has been revealed.
More than 900 kilograms of assorted fins – including some from the giant placid whale shark – arrived in Hong Kong earlier in May labelled as “dry seafood”.
They were smuggled despite a ban by the carrier and were discovered by US environmental group Sea Shepherd.
Considered a delicacy in Hong Kong, shark fins are readily available in seafood stores and restaurants, but are banned by some airlines and food outlets, and those from endangered species must be accompanied by a permit.
It is typically consumed in a shredded jelly-like soup and is believed to have nutritional benefits.
More than 70 million sharks are killed every year – according to the World Wildlife Fund – but consumption of shark fin soup in Hong Kong is waning due to activism against the trade.
Fins from endangered whale sharks were hidden among legal fins to avoid detection, Sea Shepherd said.
They came from Colombo in Sri Lanka via Singapore.
“Singapore Airlines are yet another victim of these shark fin smugglers, who deceived the airline by declaring the shipment as ‘dried seafood’ to skirt the airline’s internal booking checks,” said Gary Stokes, Asia director for Sea Shepherd Global.
Singapore Airlines, which banned shark fin cargo in 2014, said it had “sent out a reminder to all our stations” to conduct sampling checks on shipments labelled “dried seafood”.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s biggest shark fin trading hubs.
Huge quantities of shark fin are exported to Hong King every year and most are sent on to mainland China.