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Why Is UPS Still Shipping Shark Fins Despite Public Outcry?

UPS should not be profiting by aiding this dishonorable industry.

The race to save sharks is ongoing and critical. As of 2012, as many as 70 million sharks were killed each year just for their fins. If there’s one single entity – aside from the fishing industry itself – that’s allowing this disturbing business to continue, it’s probably shipping giant UPS.

This issue is one that the Care2 community obviously cares about given our “Tell UPS Not to Ship Shark Fins” petition has over 166,000 signatures as of this article’s writing. That’s a very successful petition by nearly every standard with one important exception: UPS has yet to make any concessions on this subject.

Conservationists have previously scored other victories in limiting shark fin trade. Altogether, petitions and protests have been responsible for persuading 30 different commercial airlines to stop carrying shark fins. Earlier this year, American Airlines, one of the last biggest hold-outs, also got out of the game after proof emerged that the company had illegally transported fins from endangered sharks. Now the company has a policy of refusing to transport fins altogether.

With all of these other modes of transportation drying up, UPS has become a primary mode for getting shark fins to other areas of the world. (Hong Kong purchases about 50 percent of shark fins, mostly for use in the popular dish shark fin soup.) If activists can convince UPS to take a stand against fin shipments, it might not eliminate the shark fin market altogether, but it will likely decrease its feasibility significantly. Those who stay in the business will have to find other, less convenient ways of shipping the fins, which will make the already pricey fins perhaps too expensive for purchasers.

Thus far, UPS has clung to the fact that it is in compliance with the law. The company says it is “strongly opposed” to transporting products that come from protected and endangered species, but since many of the sharks are not yet classified as such, their shipment of these fins can be called “immoral” though not “illegal.”

Unfortunately, UPS’s policy does not account for species that are in danger (if not yet technically endangered) by this massive trade. Documentation shows that UPS ships fins chopped off the backs of “vulnerable” species like the smooth hammerhead, thresher shark and blue shark, which are all projected to become endangered species if current fishing practices continue.

In a lot of ways, shark “finning” – wherein fishers catch sharks, cut off their fins, then dump the live sharks back in the water – is more unscrupulous than outright killing them since sharks will suffer and gradually die without their fins. What’s more, the fishers are not even attempting to use the rest of their bodies for meat.

The bottom line is that UPS should not be profiting by aiding this dishonorable industry. Tweet, call and email the company to voice your displeasure that they are helping to wipe sharks out of the ocean. And, if you haven’t already, sign and share the Care2 petition directed at the company. Perhaps it’ll take 200,000 signatures before UPS realizes that the world is watching and angry that it is complicit in this form of animal cruelty.

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