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March 27, 2013

HSI/Canada Condemns Government for Failing to Support Shark Fin Bill

Shark fin ban movement looks to alternate ways to protect sharks

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Shark protection advocates are disappointed in the outcome of today's vote. © Veer

OTTAWA: Humane Society International/Canada is deeply disappointed by the failure of the federal government to support Bill C-380 to ban the import of shark fins into Canada at Second Reading. The Bill was introduced by MP Fin Donnelly, and received unanimous support from opposition parties, but was defeated with a vote of 138 to 143 in Parliament.

Gabriel Wildgen, campaigner for HSI/Canada, said, “We are deeply disappointed that our government failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Canadians who wanted Parliament to protect sharks and our oceans. There is simply no excuse for defeating the Bill before bringing it to committee. While this news is disappointing, we must continue to work towards ending Canada’s role in the cruel and unsustainable shark fin industry through other forms of legislation. There are still courageous, compassionate and environmentally responsible leaders at all levels of government who are willing to stand up for sharks.”

Donnelly said, “I am disappointed more Conservative MPs did not support this important legislation. I hope the government will take immediate action to restrict the importation of shark fins to Canada. One hundred million sharks are killed each year to support the wasteful, unsustainable and often illegal trade of their fins. This is having a devastating impact on shark populations, which is harmful to ocean ecosystems.”

Targeted for their highly valuable fins, tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to feed the global demand for shark fin soup, and many species are now threatened with extinction. Shark finning is the process of cutting the fins off a shark, often while the shark is still alive, and then throwing the rest of the animal back into the water to die a slow and painful death from suffocation, bleeding and predation from other species.

Many sharks are apex predators, meaning that they are at the top of ocean food chains and help to regulate all other species. Shark finning not only threatens sharks; it is also a wasteful practice. Massive removal of shark populations affects the balance of marine ecosystems.

Currently Canada has no effective laws in place to restrict shark fin imports. In 2012 alone, Canada imported more than 106,000 kg of shark fins. If Bill C-380 had been passed through Second Reading, Canada would have been the only country in the world with a pending piece of federal legislation that would ban shark fin imports.

Facts:

  • 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 adopt the Bill into law in the coming months.
  • A new Environics national poll shows that 81 percent of Canadians support a shark fin ban.
  • There are now 18 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, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Oakville, Pickering, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, and White Rock.
  • In September 2012, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a near-unanimous resolution calling on the federal government to ban the import of shark fins into Canada.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce very few young and mature slowly and, consequently, over exploited populations can take years or even decades to recover.
  • Several states in the U.S. and all three Pacific territories, Guam, American Samoa 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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