In the space of a few weeks, Langley Township council has flipped its position, agreeing Monday night to a shark fin ban.
About 30 activists were in the crowd at the council meeting to back up the reconsideration of a proposal by Councillor Charlie Fox.
At a meeting in September, Fox's motion failed to draw much support.
But following a flurry of letters to local newspapers, and a Union of B.C. Municipalities motion calling for federal and provincial action, the council seemed to be more inclined to go ahead with a ban.
Activist Anthony Marr, of the Vancouver Animal Defense League, spoke to council before the vote, encouraging them to reconsider.
He named two Langley restaurants he said serve shark fin soup. One of them, the Empire Garden in Walnut Grove, has two varieties of shark fin soup listed on their online menu.
The finning trade is responsible for depleting the number of sharks severely, which in turn can affect the food chain of medium and small fish, Marr said.
"Sharks are extremely slow reproducers," Marr said, and they do not produce hundreds or thousands of eggs at a time like salmon and many other species of fish.
There is already a ban on harvesting shark fins in Canadian waters, Marr noted. Fins served here are imported from abroad.
Studies have shown about 55 per cent of fins found in Canada are from threatened or endangered species of sharks, he said.
While shark fin soup is associated with Chinese cuisine, Marr said he and most other Chinese-Canadians in the Lower Mainland oppose the practice.
He pointed to support for bans in other cities with large Chinese populations, such as San Francisco, California, and to efforts within Hong Kong and other parts of China to limit the trade in shark fins.
"If Langley opposes the ban, it stands out like a sore thumb," Marr said, noting that a number of other communities around the Lower Mainland have already approved bans.
After Marr spoke, Fox called for the reconsideration of his original motion from September.
His motion called the practice of cutting the fins off of live sharks - which are then often thrown, helpless but still alive, back into the ocean - "both cruel and archaic in its nature."
At the end of the meeting, there was a quick vote, with little debate. The motion passed 8-1, with only Coun. Grant Ward opposed.
The motion means that the sale of shark fins, and associated products, is now banned in Langley Township.
The original vote on Sept. 17 was defeated 5-4, with several councillors saying it was not within their jurisdiction or saying it should be dealt with at a higher level of government.
Marr noted that the Canadian market for shark fins is a small part of the worldwide demand, but the fins are imported here in numbers large enough to be significant.
@ Copyright 2013