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December 1, 2012

HSI/Canada Decries Ontario Court Ruling Striking Down Toronto Shark Fin Ban

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Sharks around the world are hunted down for their fins. © Pretoma

  • Shark finning is cruel and destructive. © Nancy Boucha, www.scubasystems.org 2005/Marine Photobank

TORONTO, Ontario — Humane Society International/Canada is deeply disappointed by an Ontario provincial court ruling, striking down the by-law that bans the possession, sale, and consumption of shark fin products within the Toronto City limits. The shark fin ban, which eliminated a major market for shark fins in Canada, was introduced by Councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam, and passed with a vote of 38 to 4 in October 2011.

"The court's decision nullifies the will of many residents in Toronto, including prominent Chinese Canadians, who want to make sure that their city does not contribute to the shark fin trade," said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for HSI/Canada. "This court ruling also underscores the urgent need for federal regulations to ban the import of shark fins into Canada, and runs counter to the global momentum to save sharks."

Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed solely for their fins, which are obtained through "finning," a practice that often involves cutting off the fins of live sharks and then throwing the animals back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year to feed the global demand for shark fin soup.

"We are looking into our legal options, including an appeal, but make no mistake, Toronto should not be a centre of distribution for shark fins," said Councillor Wong-Tam.

There are now 17 Canadian municipalities that have banned the sale of shark fin products: Abbotsford, Brantford, Coquitlam, Duncan, City of Langley, Township of Langley, London, Maple Ridge, Mississauga, Nanaimo, Newmarket, North Vancouver, Oakville, Pickering, Port Moody, and White Rock. The court decision flies in the face of growing global awareness about the plight of sharks and governmental responsibility to act before it’s too late.

HSI/Canada is urging all Canadians to sign the petition in support of federal Bill C-380 to ban the import of shark fins into Canada and to write to their Members of Parliament asking them to vote in favour of the Bill this winter.

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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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