On February 28, 2012, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s UK Trustee David Scott received a response from Hong Kong Airlines concerning a letter he had sent denouncing the airlines transfer of five wild dolphins from Japan to Vietnam. The response stated that Hong Kong Airlines was taking the situation very seriously and was issuing a statement. The letter stated, “As a company committed to the preservation and protection of wildlife, Hong Kong Airlines has enforced an immediate ban on all such flights involving the carriage of protected species.”
This statement was issued three days after Sea Shepherd Hong Kong Coordinator Gary Stokes along with several other activists visited the corporate offices of Hong Kong airlines carrying a petition holding 2,400 signatures and a copy of the Academy-Award winning documentary The Cove. The global animal protection community had been informed of the incident and had united to take action against Hong Kong Airlines for contributing to the enslavement of wild dolphins.
The impact of this decision is evident in the following remark by Gary Stokes,” personally I see this incident as something far bigger than just Hong Kong Airlines, this is the crack in the dam that we have all been waiting for. This action should send a message to all airlines that the consequences of transporting dolphins will result in such global negative publicity as to affect a loss of business that will far outweigh any short-term financial gain from the transfers. If we can stop the international transportation, this should then stop the captive trade and therefore if there is no dolphin trade, then there will be no dolphin slaughters as the money will have disappeared.”
Here is the statement from Hong Kong Airlines:
STATEMENT REGARDNG 16 JANUARY DOLPHIN SHIPMENT
28 February 2012 - On 16 January 2012, Hong Kong Airlines carried a special consignment of five live dolphins from Japan to Vietnam. The airline ensured that the transportation complied with government rules and International Air Transport Association live animal regulations, and that it met all requirements of preparation before dispatch and animal care procedures. Hong Kong Airlines also ensured that import and export permits pertinent to convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora had been issued by the Trade and Economic Bureau of Co-operation, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan and Forest Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.
Nations of the world still permit Japan to kill more than 1000 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary every year for so-called "scientific research." No peer-reviewed scientific publications have ever come from these slaughters. Worse still, the whale meat continues to be sold illegally and shows up in restaurants, grocery stores, and children's school lunches, despite known serious health hazards from toxic heavy metals.
Professional experts from Vietnam and Japan advised transport by air as the best solution for the transfer of live dolphins and a team were sent for evaluation before the delivery. Sea animal experts and veterinary surgeons were onboard to supervise and monitor the transportation process, and proper care was exercised during the entire voyage by the experts.
Some time following the delivery, Hong Kong Airlines received contact from several welfare organisations encouraging the airline to not accept similar consignments in the future. Hong Kong Airlines has been in direct communication with these groups to learn more about their concerns and to also express the considerable efforts that the airline went to in ensuring safe carriage of the dolphins to exceed all legal and welfare requirements.
Hong Kong Airlines has welcomed the comments and opinions expressed by the welfare organisations and evaluated this in conjunction with the information available to it at the time of shipment.
Hong Kong Airlines wishes to convey that it is a responsible member of the transport industry caring for the future and the environment. Since it is believed that transportation of this nature can result in endangering wildlife elsewhere, Hong Kong Airlines will immediately ban shipments of this kind.
As a demonstration of its commitment to the environment and enlightenment by the organisations, Hong Kong Airlines will make a donation to an appropriate wildlife charity.
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