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Shark fin: Toronto to ban animal cruelty in Chinese cuisine

Toronto councillors launch shark fin ban campaign
CBC News Posted: Jun 13, 2011 4:32 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011 4:32 PM ET

Three Toronto city councillors want to ban the sale of shark fins in the city. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

Three Toronto city councillors have launched a campaign aimed at banning the sale and consumption of shark fins in city limits.

Councillors John Parker, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam launched their campaign Monday, and they hope to gather 10,000 signatures in support of their cause.

De Baeremaeker will introduce a motion at council on Tuesday seeking the ban, which could be in place by next year.

“With our example, we will see this replicated across our nation,” De Baeremaeker said.

Wong-Tam, a Chinese-Canadian whose father was a chef, said her family stopped eating shark fin soup 10 years ago.

“It’s not ethical fishing and, basically, because we found this out, mom and dad, my sisters and I decided it no longer had taste,” she said.

Shark fin soup is a traditional dish seen as a status symbol in some cultures, especially at weddings. At restaurants in the Toronto area, a bowl of shark fin soup ranges in price from $25 per bowl to nearly $100.


An estimated 73 million sharks are slaughtered every year for their fins, according to WildAid. The group estimates some species of sharks will be near extinction in the next decade.
Shark fin – usually served as soup – is a coveted delicacy in Chinese cooking, extolled for its supposed ability to boost sexual potency, enhance skin quality, prevent heart diseases and lower cholesterol. Kin Cheung/Associated Press

WildAid executive director Rob Sinclair said a shark fin ban in Toronto would be monumental.

“The shark fin trade in the City of Toronto is relatively limited but symbolically very, very important,” Sinclair said.

“This is a circumstance in which people will notice if something happens here and it will [get] attention both in Ontario, across Canada and, quite frankly, internationally as well.”

The group is also enlisting the help of some irresistible supporters in circulating the petition, said Rob Stewart, director of the documentary film Sharkwater.

“It will be in lots of little kids’ hands, looking up at you and saying, ‘Sign this for our future,'” he said.

Brantford, Ont., passed a similar ban earlier this month, becoming the first Canadian city to do so.

Tuesday’s motion to council will likely be referred to a committee for further study. Supporters hope to present the petition and a report to council by September.

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CIReport.ca

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