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September 14, 2012

HSI/Canada Celebrates Three Municipal Bans on Shark Fin Trade in British Columbia

Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver ban shark fin trade

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Once inplemented, the newly approved ban will prevent the trade of shark fin products, used to prepare shark fin soup, in all three municipalities. Iris Ho/HSI

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia — Humane Society International/Canada is celebrating three victories for sharks this week, as the cities of Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver in British Columbia ban the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products. On Sept. 24, a resolution calling for a provincial ban on the trade in shark fins will be considered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and this winter the Canadian parliament will consider a Private Member’s bill to ban the import of shark fins.

“Three bans in one week is not a coincidence, but rather it is a clear sign that there is growing concern for sharks among Canadians. Governments at all levels have a role to play in ending the suffering and ecological crisis caused by shark finning,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for Humane Society International/Canada. “We urge municipalities across British Columbia to support a provincial ban on the trade in shark fins at the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention, and all Canadians to support the Federal Private Member’s Bill to ban the import of shark fins into Canada.”

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

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.

With Coquitlam, Nanaimo and Port Moody, there are now six municipalities in British Columbia that have passed a by-law banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products. On Sept. 18, the Vancouver City Council will a consider a motion from Councillors Kerry Jang and Raymond Louie, calling on their city staff to work with the city staff of Burnaby and Richmond to introduce a regionally coordinated ban on shark fin products. Such a ban would eliminate the largest remaining markets for shark fin products in Canada.

There are now 13 Canadian municipalities that have banned shark fin products. Outside of British Colombia, similar prohibitions have already passed in the cities of Brantford, London, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville, Pickering, and Toronto, and others such as 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.
  • 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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