Fin in the News: Are feds finally willing to bite on shark fin ban?

Sandor Gyarmati, Delta Optimist, Feb.28, 2019

A proposed federal government bill to ban the importation and exportation of shark fins is moving a step closer to reality, parallel to Delta council’s recent move on the issue.

Bill S-238 was tabled in the House of Commons by New Democrat MP Fin Donnelly recently.

“There is a crisis in oceans around the world with the rapid decline of sharks being killed for their fins. Since 2011, five private members’ bills have been introduced that would ban the trade of shark fins; in that time, nearly one billion sharks have been butchered and killed for their fins,” said Donnelly in a news release.

“The health of sharks is critical to the health of our marine ecosystems. Canadians expect legislators to protect these apex predators, that’s why I’m happy to sponsor this bill.”

When a similar bill he put forward was defeated in 2013, Donnelly said it had support from the NDP and Liberal caucuses. He said he hopes the Liberals, who now account for a majority in the House of Commons, will support the bill again.

“With a federal election expected Oct. 21, it is imperative S-238 gets through debate, review by the Fisheries and Oceans standing committee, third reading and Royal Assent before the election is called,” added Donnelly.

“Sharks and the ocean ecosystems that depend on them cannot wait for another election. We must pass this bill and end this destructive practice once and for all.”

Although under federal jurisdiction, Delta council recently gave preliminary approval to a municipal bylaw that would ban the sale or trade of shark fins in the city, following the lead of several other cities which already have similar bans.

Boundary Bay resident Kendra Luckow last year came forward to council urging the city to pass a bylaw but council only agreed to lobby senior government on the issue.

This time around, however, staff noted a bylaw in Delta could be used in the continued lobbying efforts to show senior levels of government that the issue is important at a local level.

According to Donnelly, Canada imported 114,540 kilograms of shark fins in 2015, a 36 per cent increase from 2012. Shark finners take only about two per cent of the shark while the rest of the animal is discarded and left for dead. A single bowl of shark fin soup costs about $135.