NDP Fisheries Critic wants to keep illegal shark fins out of Canada

New Westminster News Leader, 16 September 2011 By Helen Polychronakos

Illegal shark fin imports to Canada should be banned, says New Westminster MP Fin Donnelly, who is also the NDP’s critic for Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa.

Donnelly says he’s consulting with business groups and politicians about the possibility of drafting legislation that would keep illegal shark fins out of the country.

“There are a lot of people who can’t believe it’s going on and they’re appalled. I think this crosses party lines,” said Donnelly on the phone from Toronto, where he has met with that city’s Chinese Business Association. He plans to talk with the group’s B.C. counterparts next month.

Shark fin soup is served at Chinese wedding banquets and Donnelly has been working with Shark Truth, a B.C.-based group of Chinese-Canadians campaigning couples and restaurateurs to serve alternatives.

The trade is not regulated in some parts of the world, so it’s hard to make sure that the shark fins that end up in Canada are legal, said Donnelly, adding that members of the Chinese Business Association were also concerned about the illegal trade and would like to explore alternatives.

Canada has an Atlantic and a Pacific shark fishery, and fins obtained locally are preferable because it’s easier to tell whether they’re legal or not, according to Donnelly.

He added that Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan and East Vancouver MP Libby Davies have expressed support.

They’re both NDP, but Donnelly hopes to reach out to Conservatives as well.

For instance, he says he’s “more than likely” to speak to former DFO critic and current Conservative MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge Randy Kamp.

“The decline of sharks globally is a conservation crisis,” said Donnelly. “The Candian government needs to take a leading role in protecting sharks and promoting international ocean stewardship.”

© New Westminster News Leader