Langley City doesn’t want shark fin or related products here.
Monday evening council meeting wrapped up with a unanimous vote to ban the sale, purchase and consumption of shark fin and related products or derivatives.
Council has been grappling with the issue in recent weeks as more and more communities and groups voice an opinion.
Weeks ago Councillor Rosemary Wallace had asked the rest of council to look at a ban because the harvest of shark fins is cruel. She explained that the animals’ fins are cut off and the rest of the animal is tossed back in the water to die.
At the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, delegates voted to ask the province and federal governments for bans.
Langley Township recently went through the same debate before agreeing to a ban.
There are a couple of restaurants in the Township with shark fin soup on the menu but no restaurants were found to be serving it in the City.
“If we have a bylaw and somebody does, are be going to enforce it,” asked City Coun. Gayle Martin.
She was concerned about each municipality “doing it’s own thing” when fisheries are a federal and provincial responsbility.
The City won’t be sending out staff to deal with incident. But council decided it wanted its opposition to shark finning on the record in the form of a bylaw in case anyone from other communities that have brought in bans thinks about moving here.
“I think it’s time we don’t waffle around here and stood up,” said Coun. Dave Hall.
He said the danger in waiting for the provincial and federal governments to act on this issue is that they may never. Hall pointed to the long time it’s taken the province to look into the cosmetic pesticide ban issue, where there’s been no changes implemented.
In early September, Anthony Marr from the Vancouver Animal Defense League spoke to both councils.
He said a conservative estimate is that 30 million sharks are killed each year, but others suggest the number is greater than 100 million.
“There is a cruelty and morality issue Canadians have to deal with,” Marr said.
He said there are those arguing to allow shark fin soup and who call opponents racist but allowing the harvest of sharks to continue will “make the Chinese reputation forever mud.”
One third of the 450 shark species are endangered or threatened and an American DNA study found that about 65 per cent of shark fins served in soup were from endangered species, he said.
Marr explained that the rest of the shark has little value compared to the fins (70 cents per pound versus $700 per pound respectively) and fish farming them isn’t feasible.
Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby are working together on policy so there is consistent policy in the neighbouring communities. Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Nanaimo, and Abbotsford have bans.
Cathay Pacific Airlines has said it will not longer transport shark fins, and many Hong Kong restaurants are removing it from menus, due to public pressure.