City staff: banning the sale of shark fins pretty much impossible for Toronto
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]
16 thoughts on “City staff: banning the sale of shark fins pretty much impossible for Toronto”
I am suuporter to ban the shark fin but getting the city to pass a bylaw is really out of it’s legal jurisdiction. It should be a federal issue and they are the one and only that can put it into law.
I support banning shark fin fully. There are more than enough nutrition in all the food we can eat. If we ban shark fin right now, at least I am sure the next generation will change the idea about what shark fin is. If a tradition is to make the planet unbalanced and bigger problems for the future, that tradition should change. I will do whatever I can to support the people who is trying to ban shark fin. At least I can choose not to eat in any resturant that serves shark fin.
Hello wake up and smell the coffee how can you change tradition in chinese culture ARE you dumb ? Its like stop eating french fries !!! Why can the people in the city hall fix their OWN problem first before stick their nose into small issues !!
@Allan: If today potatoes are becoming endangered I would gladly remove french fries from my diet. This is also not a small issue either. Removing sharks out of the ocean will dramatically alter the marine ecosystem.
@ Alex i guess you are not chinese it’s tradition it stays tradition maybe I use the wrong example !!!
No, you just think tradition is a licence to destroy the planet or ignore common-sense. It’s not. If there was a tradition to burn a pile of styrofoam every year, I think we could safely say the people that hold the tradition are the dumb ones.
Also, animal sacrifice, female genital mutilation, and stoning people are traditions in some back-water filthy excuses for cultures. We should ensure those remain tradition as well, right Allan?
easy there Justin, your first argument was well made. the 2nd one was kinda ethnocentric.
If we were to keep a record of the time spent by elected officials, beauracrats, ecofreaks, journalists, etc. and put a costing on this I wonder how many fewer hungry kids there might be, how many more kids could play organized sports, etc. Let’s get a life people…save your energy for the OCCUPY Toronto walkabout. BTW my costing omes to about $2.50 and I will drop this into a Timmies cup someplace around city hall!
It might be hard to change mentality of the older generation of Chinese, but we can start with younger and more educated generation and make them conscious of the consequence. Beside the fact that it is inhuman and non sustainable, the level of mercury in shark fin takes over all the benefits of eating it.
Allan, we have to start somewhere, we are not saying that it will work like magic. It will take time for sure. It is our mandate as younger Chinese generation to influence the elderly. Tradition is important, but evolution has well. It is not because it is tradition that it is good. Shark fin consumption was fine when the chinese population was smaller and only few can afford it, but now it is simply too much for what our planet can handle.
Why are we banning the consumption of shark products altogether? The solution is to make the harvesting of sharks sustainable & humane. Why don’t we see a ban of Blue Fin tuna in Toronto? Or foie gras, caviar, horse meat or anything opposed by anyone due to moral or environmental issues? It’s a knee-jerk, xenophobic reaction.
No you can’t justify banning shark fin while continuing the consumption of blue fin tuna and factory-farmed chicken, there’s an inconsistency there. But that is the reality how politics and policy changes work these days: it’s very divided and single-issue focused.
It’s the same with UoT banning the sale of bottled water, does it make sense to ban water but not soda? But it is a form of progress, albeit minor and at times illogical.
It is unfortunate that this barbaric, inhumane, and environmentally damaging practice is something the Chinese citizens of Toronto are choosing to define themselves and their culture by.
It is no one’s automatic right to say that because something so fundamentally damaging to our planet is a ‘tradition’ to their country the entire world has to put up with it. Sharks live throughout the oceans of the world – not just China – and as such are worth protecting from the disgusting practices of the Chinese and Japanese who are clearly too ignorant and pre-historic culturally, to see the damage their status symbol soup poses to our environment. The world needs sharks, but only two countries claim to need shark fin soup. It’s that simple.
100 million sharks are killed every year. This trumps any interest in maintaining “culture”. If turkeys were endangered, I’d say they’re off the menu for Thanksgiving.
Money Hungry World=The violent death of cool ass sharks.
The debate is so bad in here. Why don’t we stop eating horse, Didn’t know they were endangered. Factory farmed Chicken? Is chicken even considered an animal any more? The Blue Fin I can see where that is going. I am sure it can be farmed.
Sharks what makes it worse then what it is, the world is on this band wagon knowing there are sharks in every major ocean. Even in Canada(amazing). Its sad that anyone who gets some shark fins can make good money. This is what it comes down too, not tradition. Its about making money. Are 100 million Japanese eating shark fin every day no, are a Billion Chinese eating shark fin every day no, Is there some rich f**k wanting the soup so they charge them $1,xxx for it . Yes.
Culinerd I don’t see why you would consider the chicken/blue-fin/horse analogue as being faulty. Most environmentalists tend to fall under the category of either biocentric or ecocentric: either you’re against these practices because you believe killing an animal is cruel and akin to murder; or you’re against these practices because of how much damage these cause to the environment at large. Only difference is shark fin harvesting is far worse because they’re the top of the food chain and the practice causes more damage to the ecosystem.
And don’t just reduce to down to “those rich f**ks”, yes it has extravagant, but at the same time not exclusively consumed by the rich elites. It’s served in wedding banquets commonly, even those who are lower-mid income would still be able to afford some form of shark fin soup when they host a wedding.
With all that said, I’m all for banning the product. In fact I believe most Chinese would readily accept the reality and reasoning behind the ban. The rhetoric of “you’re violating and disrespecting our culture and tradition” is actually not that common in Chinese culture. Of course, I don’t represent all the Chinese in the world, so I could very well be wrong.
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