COMMENT: Shark Finning – An Immoral Practice
I recently had the opportunity to speak and offer support for Bill C-380, An Act to Amend the Fish Inspection Act and the Fisheries Act, which would prohibit the importation of shark fins not attached to the rest of the shark and enshrine in legislation Canada’s prohibition on finning. This bill was introduced by my colleague, Fin Donnelly, MP for Burnaby-Coquitlam. Unfortunately, it was voted down in the House of Commons.
As we all know, an illegal trade in animal body parts exists in the world, such as ivory and rhino horns from Africa, tiger parts from Siberia and bear parts from North America. I am not a hunter, but I understand the practice of killing animals for food when done in a responsible way to feed people.
On the other hand, killing animals for trophies or body parts is totally reprehensible. For example, that is why I do not support the hunting of grizzlies in my province or anywhere else for that matter.
I have seen the documentary, “Sharkwater.” I watched how sharks are caught, their fins cut off while their bodies are thrown back into the water. This practice is repulsive, immoral and is largely driven by an underground market controlled by organized crime. Nearly 100 million sharks are killed every year, mainly for their fins. Trade is under-regulated, and it is almost impossible to ensure that imported fins have not been removed illegally or are not from threatened species.
Shark populations are slow to reproduce and cannot support the current overfishing. Sharks are essential to the health of marine ecosystems, and the decline in their population threatens to profoundly disrupt these ecosystems. In 2009, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported that one-third of shark species were threatened with extinction because of this trade and over the last few decades, in certain areas, their population as dropped by more 95%.
Soup anyone? Currently Shark Fin soup sells for between $8 and $100 a bowl in restaurants. In Canada as abroad, more and more people are refusing to serve or eat this kind of soup, and many Chinese restaurants have voluntarily taken this soup off their menu.
Some municipalities in Canada have also passed, or will soon pass, bylaws prohibiting the sale of shark fins and related products. The communities in British Columbia that fall into this group are Coquitlam, Abbotsford, Duncan, Langley, the Township of Langley, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Moody and White Rock.
I congratulate the municipal councils for having the courage to pass these bylaws.
Canada has already been identified by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service agency (CSIS) as a destination country for poached shark fins from Australia even though some Australian states have some of the world’s strongest shark finning laws.
We must eliminate the demand which will help remove the incentive for fishermen to continue finning and poaching sharks.