Last week, Air China announced it would ban all shipments of shark fins aboard its aircrafts. The decision marks the first time in history that a mainland Chinese airline has taken a stance against the cruel practice of definning sharks and selling their parts for soup—a practice which results in the slaughter of upwards of 73 million sharks annually. An Air China Cargo representative says this ban is in line with the airline’s “long-standing commitment to playing our role in a more sustainable world.” The Washington Post reported that this ban, coupled with a recent Chinese ban on ivory imports, “marks the country’s gradual transformation from being the biggest source of the problem—as the largest market in illegal wildlife products—to becoming a major part of the solution.” Animal conservation organization WildAid acknowledged the efforts of the 35 global airlines and 17 shipping companies that have taken a similar stance on the issue, and urged that other airlines and government officials—specifically Southern China Air and the country of Hong Kong, where practices surrounding shark fin soup are wildly unregulated—to follow Air China’s lead.
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