Toronto City Council passes ban on shark fin products
Toronto has adopted a ban on shark fin products thanks to a 38-4 vote at city council this afternoon. The four members of council who voted against the ban — which includes a motion to ask for the province's support — were Mayor Rob Ford, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, and councillors David Shiner and Giorgio Mammoliti. Initially suggested by councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, John Parker, and Glenn De Baeremaeker, its opponents argued that a ban on such products would fall outside the jurisdiction of the City of Toronto.
"I don't think it's in our purview to do that. If other councillors want to do it it's an open vote," Rob Ford told reporters prior to today's meeting. "It's been going on for so long I don't know why it's an issue now."
One reason is that Rob Stweart, the Toronto-based director of the documentary Sharkwater, has campaigned fiercely to bring attention to the shark fin trade and the detrimental effect it has had on shark species. He was on hand today to take in the vote and, ultimately, to celebrate the victory at council. The by-law, which will take effect September 2012, will impose fines ranging from $5,000 (first offence) to $100,000 (third offence) for the possession and use of shark fin products.
Photo by Martin Reis in the blogTO Flickr pool