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Toronto City Council votes to outlaw sale of shark fin and shark fin products — one small move to help these magnificant species.

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On October 25th, Toronto City Council voted nearly unanimously in favor of a total ban on sale of shark fin or shark fin products, and became the fourth, and by far the largest, municipality in Canada to do so.  Toronto is also the largest market for shark fin in Canada.  Many shark species are critically endangered largely due to unsustainable fishing, including the abhorrent practice of ‘finning’ in which sharks are landed, their fins are cut off, and the shark is then pitched back into the sea, often still alive but unable to swim.  Toronto’s move is a small gesture, and may be difficult to enforce, but it is a message that national governments should pay attention to.  See the Globe & Mail report here.

6 thoughts on “Toronto City Council votes to outlaw sale of shark fin and shark fin products — one small move to help these magnificant species.”

  1. Thank you, Ms. Ran, for a well-written, nicely-balanced piece. This is truly a no beirnar, it seems to most.It’s gratifying to see the broad support across ethnic lines for this effort to ban horrendous animal cruelty and to protect the ocean environment. Reportedly, we’ve already massacred 90% of the world’s population of sharks, throwing the marine environment into serious imbalance. This commerce in sharks (and fins) is not only brutal, it’s unsustainable. And morally indefensible.Just for the record, rumors to the contrary, shark fin soup is NOT an aphrodisiac, nor does it cure cancer. The fins are nothing but gristle and cartilage, bland-to-tasteless, and chewy. (The taste comes from the condiments and other contents of the soup.) You might as well eat Jello. And terribly over-priced, at that.California’s Assembly Bill 376, introduced by Assemblymember Paul Fong (himself of Chinese descent) recently passed the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee unanimously, by a vote of 13:0. It is expected to do equally well in Assembly Appropriations on April 6. (SUPPORT EMAILS: )As for San Francisco Senator Leland Yee, he’s long been a strong advocate for animals and the environment, but he’s wrong on this one (and in a VERY small minority at that). Mr. Yee’s proposal may sound good, but it’s unenforceable too much money involved. California has only 192 game wardens in the field (the worst ratio in the nation), and looking for shark fins would not be a top priority. It’s also impossible to monitor all the fishing fleets world-wide who take part in this bloody business. (Relatedly, Mr. Yee is also wrong on the frog/turtle live market issue they’re all diseased and/or parasitized, putting at risk those who eat them.) Keep in mind, too, that the Senator is running for Mayor of San Francisco, so there are other issues at play here.SAVE THE SHARKS! And in doing so, we’ll help protect the oceans, maybe even save ourselves.Sincerely,Eric Mills, coordinatorACTION FOR ANIMALSOakland, CA Email

  2. As a Chinese American, I grew up in a culture that reeervs food and prides itself in its cuisine. But there is a dish I have long shunned, shark fin soup. The knowledge of the cruel practice of shark finning leaves a very bad taste in my mouth! The fact that the demand for shark fins for soup exacerbates shark finning and drives some shark species to extinction deeply troubles many Chinese Americans. Over 4,000 years of Chinese philosophy teaches us to live a virtuous, self-disciplined, and compassionate life, in harmony with nature. Many Chinese Americans stand united behind AB 376 in California, we see it as an environmentally and ecologically sound message. The proposed legislation is about saving sharks from the cruel fate of shark finning and protecting ocean ecosystems. Cruelty has no place in any culture, including my own. Thank you!Judy KiCo-Chair APAOHAAsian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance

    1. Happy to receive your comment. I always knew that within the Asian community there would be people who consider the trade in shark fins unreasonable, given the cost to shark species. A bowl of soup should not become a reason to cause extinctions.

  3. As a Chinese advocate for mriane conservation, I disagree with Senator Yee’s statement that the Californian shark fin ban opposes our Chinese tradition. Shark fin started off an emperor’s dish, inaccessible to commoners. The dish was only popularized in the last 30+ years, and we have already caused drastic declines in shark populations around the world. Calling the dish a part of our Chinese culture provides convenience for the tongue, but this statement is accurate only if you believe we are of royal blood.Other traditions such as feet binding and arranged marriages that have fallen with time because these no longer have a place on this day. While we take pride in our Chinese tradition, we need to bear in mind that the importance of cultural practices should not supersede the importance of maintaining sustainability.

  4. Thanks for talking this up. As a Chinese Malaysian now rdineisg in Canada, let me say that shark fin soup is not part of my culture and certainly something that I will not pass on to my two girls as part of their heritage Senator Yee should have done his homework before making loud noises and turning this into a race issue. I’ll bet anything that the 99% of us Chinese that can’t afford this dish, do not consider it a part of our culture. We do consider it an obnoxious status symbol for those with too much money looking to flaunt their wealth.As for his naive proposals up to this point, which included allowing non endangered species to continue in the trade and farming as you mention above, its obvious that his staff has not informed him that we are talking about big fish that swim in open oceans, not catfish or tilapia. Anyone with a bit of knowledge on the trade would also have known that the fins are taken off sharks period without regard for its status.With the harvests spanning from China to Africa, its absurd to even suggest that we can control what species are traded and which ones are banned.The only way to protect the species as a whole, is to ban the trade completely

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