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'Wasteful, inhumane': Vancouver backs bill that would ban shark fin imports
A controversial Chinese delicacy may soon be impossible to find in Vancouver.
On Tuesday, city councillors voted to endorse a federal ban on shark fin imports in hopes it will reduce the demand for finning, a practice where a shark's fins are cut off and the animal is thrown overboard to die.
It's a process the motion presented to council described as "wasteful" and "inhumane."
“Sharks are so integral to our ecosystem and marine life, so they are threatened with extinction due to the amount of shark finning activity that happens,” Coun. Sarah Kirby-Young told CTV News Vancouver.
In October 2018, a federal bill to ban the importation and exportation of shark fins passed its third reading in the Senate. It will soon move to the House of Commons for debate.
Import is under the federal government’s jurisdiction, but Kirby-Young said the move will show Vancouver supports Ottawa.
“I think the times have changed. I think that in speaking with members of the (Chinese) community that customers are evolving and attitudes are changing, so this seems like the right time,” she said.
But some restaurant owners still oppose the move.
David Chung, the president of the Asian Restaurant Owners’ Association and owner of a Chinese seafood restaurant in Richmond, said finning is banned in most countries and he doesn’t believe it is widely practiced.
“Most of the fishermen abide by the law. You cannot assume they do that kind of thing. Like, you can’t assume everybody is going to murder everybody else,” he said.
He also argued that not all shark species are threatened.
“The fact that they still allow them to sell it and still allow them to catch sharks, mean it isn’t endangered,” he said.
According to World Wildlife Organization, 17 out of 39 pelagic shark species and 25 per cent of all 494 sharks and rays living in coastal continental shelves are threatened with extinction.
Besides conservation, Chung also argues shark fin soup is part of cultural preservation.
“For us, it is the culture that we don’t want destroyed by a small group of people,” he said.
However, despite his opposition, he said he will comply if the ban comes into effect, which he suspects it will.
“I won’t cry because we won’t lose business because business will be the same. (The customers) will eat something else,” he said.
He admitted fewer of his customers are ordering shark fin soup.
If the federal law is passed, it would mean restaurants would use its current supply and will not be able to import any more shark fins.