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December 6, 2012

HSl/Canada Renews Call for Federal Shark Fin Ban as New DNA Evidence Emerges

Humane Society International/Canada

  • A Federal ban in Canada would close down a large market for shark fins. © Vanessa Mignon/www.vanessamignon.com

MONTREAL, Quebec — Humane Society International/Canada is renewing calls for Members of Parliament to support Bill C-380 to ban the import of shark fins into Canada in the wake of a CTV investigative report, which revealed 76 percent of samples from shark fins sold in Metro Vancouver originated from threatened species.

“The findings of the report reaffirms that Canada’s current laws don’t go far enough to ensure our country does not contribute to the brutal and unsustainable global shark fin industry,” said Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for HSI/Canada. “We need a federal ban on shark fin trade, and we are encouraging all Canadians to write to their Members of Parliament to ask them to vote for Bill C-380 this winter.”

“This new evidence confirms Canada is importing fins from endangered and threatened species,” said Fin Donnelly, MP (New Westminster-Coquitlam & Port Moody). “Canada can play a lead role in curbing the illegal trade of shark fins by enacting my private member's bill (C-380) to ban the import of shark fins to Canada.”

“Now that there is unequivocal proof of endangered species being sold in Vancouver and Richmond, there is absolutely no reason why shark fin should continue to be sold,” said Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang. “All levels of government now have an obligation to end the import and sale across the country. As a city, we are moving towards a bylaw to remedy that.”

“This new evidence underscores the urgent need to stop shark fin trade in Canada, and why I am so disappointed with the recent court decision to strike down the Toronto shark fin ban,” said Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. “Toronto is a major distribution centre for shark fins in Canada, and there is huge public support for changing that, both in our city and across the country. The City is now looking into our legal options in response to that decision, including an appeal.”

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.

The conservation status of sharks is determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classifies 74 shark species as threatened, including all 14 shark species that are most actively targeted for the shark fin trade, and another 67 species as near threatened. Out of 141 threatened or near-threatened shark species listed by the IUCN, Canada protects only three them as result of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Fauna. Even for those three species, however, there is little to no enforcement of the relevant import restrictions in Canada.

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.


  • In November 2011, Fin Donnelly, MP, introduced Bill C-380, which would prohibit the import of shark fins into Canada. Members of Parliament will vote on whether to advance the bill in the coming months.
  • There are now 16 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. Others, such as Calgary, New Westminster and Vancouver are in the process of considering similar bans.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems.
  • As of September, Canada had imported over 77,000 kilograms of shark fins in 2012 alone.
  • 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 U.S. 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.
  • For more facts on Canada’s shark fin laws, visit http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/myths_facts_fed_shark_fin_ban.pdf
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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.