City staff: banning the sale of shark fins pretty much impossible for Toronto

City staff: banning the sale of shark fins pretty much impossible for Toronto

An anti–shark fin soup display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Image: cephalopodcast) 

After the City of Brantford banned all foods that included shark fin—an ingredient culled from endangered species and traditionally served at Chinese weddings and other banquets—Scarborough councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker was quick to introduce a similar motion for Toronto. However, a report by the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, Bruce Robertson, has thrown cold water on the proposal. Apparently it’s just not possible: “Although staff have identified clear concerns with the shark fin industry, no clear municipal purpose—mainly health and safety, consumer protection, or nuisance control—exists. The matter is one that clearly and more properly rests with more senior levels of government.”

Since shark fin fishing is both unsustainable and inhumane (a common practice involves cutting off fins and leaving sharks to die), the report makes clear that responsibility for the ban should shift to higher authorities: “Recognizing the global environmental importance of the matter… staff recommend that city council request the federal government to ban the importing of shark fin, cartilage and all other derivative products to Canada and to actively protect shark populations in Canadian waters.” We tend to agree—any municipal action would only create a competitive gap between Toronto restaurants and those that offered shark fin products outside the city, while at the same time ignoring the problem across Canada. De Baeremaeker, however, still believes Toronto will be the second city to make the move on shark fin legislation: “I have every confidence we have the votes on council, and sharks will be very happy at the end of this month when we ban shark fin soup,” he told the Toronto Star.

Don’t try to ban shark fin soup, city report advises councilors [Toronto Star]