WildAid welcomes the news that Toronto City Council has voted to ban the sale and possession of shark fin, with a vote of 38-4. With a population of over 2.5 million, Canada’s largest city, the fifth largest in North America, Toronto is the largest market for shark products in the country.
The motion was made even stronger by a unanimous recommendation calling on other municipalities, provincial governments, and the federal government to act on the issue of shark fin. The bill was introduced by Councillors Glenn De Baeremaker, John Parker, and Kristyn Wong-Tam, with additional support from Licensing Committee Chair Cesar Palacio and other members of Council.
“Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against an illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Rob Sinclair, Executive Director of WildAid Canada, who has been at the forefront of this campaign for the past five months.
Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year to make shark fin soup and related food products. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that 1/3 of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction, with certain species experiencing declines up to 90%. While the practice of shark finning is illegal in North America, current laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, fins are being imported into North America from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.
Bans passed recently in California, Hawaii, Oregon and the state of Washington as well as the Ontario cities of Mississauga, and Brantford.