B.C. restaurateur fights activists over shark fins
A worker cuts a shark fin at a fish market in this file photo. (AP / Kamran Jebreili)
Christine Tam , CTV British Columbia
Published Friday, August 24, 2012 3:26PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, August 24, 2012 3:36PM PDT
The controversy over shark fin soup is heating up in Richmond, B.C. after activists ambushed a restaurant owner this week.
Vancouver Animal Defence League activists Marley Daviduk and Brooklyn Fowler, along with reporters, showed up at Jade Chinese Seafood Restaurant demanding to speak to owner David Chung on Wednesday.
Chung said the activists “attacked him” and asked for samples of shark fins used in the restaurant’s controversial shark fin soup so they could be DNA tested to determine if they’re from endangered species.
Chung said he refused to hand over the samples because he was afraid certain sharks that are not listed as endangered in Canada could be listed as such internationally.
“We know all our shark fins come legitimately,” Chung said. “Four species of sharks are endangered and not allowed to be sold in Canada. Our shark fins are definitely not one of them, the rest of it I don’t know.”
Daviduk said they disagreed over which species were endangered, but agreed to meet again Thursday to mutually agree on a list. Chung didn't show up.
“Why doesn’t he put his money where his mouth is and get DNA samples if he’s so confident he’s not selling endangered shark fins,” Daviduk said. “He absolutely flat out refused. He knows there’s a possibility that he’s selling something he shouldn’t be.”
Chung said he simply forgot about the follow-up meeting.
B.C. restaurants have come under fire in the past for serving the controversial soup, which activists argue feeds a cruel and illegal industry of finning sharks, including endangered ones.
Disturbing YouTube videos of finning methods depict hunters hooking sharks, cutting off their fins and throwing their bodies back into the ocean leaving them to suffer a painful death.
Three B.C. cities have already banned the sale of shark fin soup including Nanaimo, Port Moody and North Vancouver. Six cities in Ontario have similar bans, including Toronto, and the states of California, Oregon and Hawaii also ban shark fins.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the city is currently researching whether a similar ban would be appropriate for Richmond.
“Once we’ve done that research we find out everything from the environmental side of it, the legal side, the status of various precedents on it -- then we’ll make a decision hopefully by the end of the year,” Brodie said.
Brodie said the city will look at how a ban would impact Richmond restaurants.
“It’s important that whatever we do or don’t do, it’s done with Burnaby and Vancouver in mind and what they are doing,” Brodie said. “Because if we decide to enact a ban and the other cities don’t then all we’re doing is pushing business to another city,”
Brodie also said they would consider any cultural implication to Richmond’s Chinese community.
Chung suggested a ban might be seen as racist.
“A lot of Chinese people will have a bad taste in their mouth as a racial thing,” Chung said. “A lot of Chinese really blend in and we think we can have harmony here. If something like this happens, it’s not [harmony].”
Chung said he will keep serving shark fin soup as long as it’s still legal in Richmond and in Canada.
“My fight is on the right to eat. We have the right to eat what we want if the Canadian government says yes,” Chung said.
But if it ever becomes illegal, or if he found out the shark fins he was selling came from endangered species, Chung said he’d never sell the soup again.
“I would stop selling my shark fins that minute. I would throw it all away. I would stop eating it the rest of my life,” Chung said.