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September 18, 2012

HSI/Canada Applauds Landmark Move Towards Regional Ban on Shark Fin Trade in the Cities of Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby

Humane Society International/Canada

  • A regional ban on the trade of shark fin products for the British Columbia would represent a major victory in the fight to preserve endangered shark species. Chris Dascher

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Humane Society International/Canada commends the Vancouver City Council for unanimously passing a historic motion instructing city staff to work directly with the cities of Burnaby and Richmond to develop a common approach to ban the sale of shark fin products in all three municipalities. Such a ban would eliminate the largest remaining markets for shark fin products in Canada and make the region a leader in international efforts to save this vital species. 

This landmark motion comes as the Canadian parliament prepares to vote this winter on whether to advance a Private Member’s Bill to prohibit the import of shark fins into Canada, and as the Union of British Columbian Municipalities considers a resolution calling for a provincial shark fin ban later this month.

“A prohibition on shark fin trade in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby will be a monumental step forward in saving countless sharks from the cruel and ecologically devastating practice of shark finning,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for Humane Society International/Canada. “We urge citizens, councillors and staff from all three cities to support this vital initiative, and for all Canadians to support the federal Private Members’ bill to ban the import of shark fins into Canada.”

Canadians: Download our petitions [English French] in support of a ban.

“As the largest city in Western Canada, it is important for Vancouver to work in partnership with surrounding municipalities on this crucial issue,” said Councillor Kerry Jang, who introduced the motion. “We are pleased to take this important step towards closing the largest remaining market for shark fins in Canada, and we do so in solidarity with the many Chinese Canadians who want to see the trade in shark fins end.”

“Canadian municipalities have shown leadership on this issue,” said Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament (New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody). “The federal government needs to take action and adopt my bill to prohibit the import of shark fin to Canada.”

There are now six municipalities in British Columbia that have prohibited the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products, including the cities of Coquitlam, Nanaimo and Port Moody. Outside of British Columbia, similar bans have been passed in the cities of Brantford, London, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville, Pickering and Toronto. Other Canadian cities, including Calgary, are in the process of implementing bans.  

Facts:

  • In November 2011, Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament, introduced Private Member’s Bill C-380, which would prohibit the import of shark fins into Canada. Members of Parliament will vote on the bill in either late 2012 or early 2013.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems.
  • The fins from as many as 73 million sharks are used to feed the growing demand for shark fin products each year.
  • In 2009 alone, Canada imported 77,000 kilograms of shark fins.
  • Shark fins are often harvested through a practice known as "shark finning," which involves cutting the fins off of sharks and then throwing the sharks back into the ocean, often while still alive, leaving the animals to die a slow death.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce very few young and mature slowly and, consequently, overexploited populations can take years or even decades to recover.
  • Several states in the United States and the territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have banned the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.
  • Shark fin products are primarily served in a soup broth at Chinese banquets, such as weddings. The demand for this dish, coupled with unsustainable fishing methods, have led some shark populations to decline by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.     

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Media Contact: Dean Pogas, HSI/Canada: 514-261-6007/514-395-2914; dpogas@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally. On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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