Animal rights activists are angry after a Conservative Party Member of Parliament from Richmond spoke out against a proposed ban on shark fin soup in the city earlier this week.

Alice Wong held a press conference on Thursday at which she aligned herself with local restaurant owner David Chung and said she is opposed to the idea of banning the delicacy, which opponents insist involves egregious animal cruelty.

Chung has pledged to fight any attempts to ban shark fin soup in Richmond, a major centre for Chinese people in Canada.

At a press conference filled with reporters from Vancouver’s Asian media, Wong ate some of the soup and declared her support for those who serve it.

Marley Daviduk of the Vancouver Animal Defense League said Wong’s actions were “despicable” on Saturday.

“I think it was extremely inappropriate that she only spoke to Chinese media regarding this issue,” said Daviduk.

“She’s a Canadian member of parliament and she is elected to represent Canadians and by excluding English-speaking media she excluded the majority of constituents that she represents.”

Wong said the decision whether to ban the soup is a federal one and should not be left up to municipalities, according to reports in Chinese media in Vancouver.

She did not return calls or emails from CTV News on Saturday.

Numerous cities throughout Metro Vancouver have recently banned shark fin soup from being sold.

Daviduk said such bans are an effective way to stop the practice.  

“If Vancouver or Richmond bans the sale of shark fins then it would be illegal within city limits, so it does work,” said Daviduk.

Activists want the soup banned because they say the fins for it are cut off live sharks that are then thrown back into the sea to die.

They also say the practice threatens the world’s shark population.

But Chung said banning the soup would be an affront to Chinese culture and insists he doesn't serve soup made from fins of endangered sharks.

“We don’t serve that much anyway,” said Chung.

“But we have got to have it, because without it we’re not an upscale Chinese restaurant.”

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber