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Toronto City Council passes ban on shark fin products

Posted by Derek Flack / October 25, 2011

Toronto Shark Fin BanToronto 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

Discussion

36 Comments

mark / October 25, 2011 at 05:18 pm
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Sharks in Toronto everywhere will finally be safe! Thank God!
curious / October 25, 2011 at 05:19 pm
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did doug ford support the ban or was he just not present?
Derek replying to a comment from curious / October 25, 2011 at 05:23 pm
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Not present... He was on record saying he would not support the ban.
Sonia replying to a comment from curious / October 25, 2011 at 05:25 pm
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He just wasn't present. He was around when I left (around 11) and when I came back (at 2) he was gone, and was absent until at least 5 (when I left again)
iSkyscraper / October 25, 2011 at 06:06 pm
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Who cares? Doesn't Council have more important things to do, like bringing back Transit City and salvaging bike lanes? Don't waste precious anti-Ford momentum on freaking sharks.
bob replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / October 25, 2011 at 06:19 pm
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Contributing to the preservation of wildlife or serving first-world problems for people who are largely the cause of the destruction of wildlife in the first place, ok good for you.
bob replying to a comment from bob / October 25, 2011 at 06:20 pm
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Wait not that bike riders and transit users are the ones causing it, they're doing good for the enivronment i just meant society in general ok thanks bye
Wong / October 25, 2011 at 06:20 pm
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Nice! A bunch of middle class White people determine, yet again; what is best for the environment and blame it on the Chinese.
hop / October 25, 2011 at 06:25 pm
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This is terrible news, next thing you know these puritanical, chain-restaurant eaters are going to force a ban on foie gras and then a ban on offal, because "eating guts is so gross". The ban of shark fin along with the debacle that was Top Chef Canada and our continued overregulation of street food vendors has made this a terrible year of the city's food scene and puts us light years behind the world.
Sharky / October 25, 2011 at 06:27 pm
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Meanwhile sharks continue to eat humans. Council has given away a huge concession without getting anything in return.
well replying to a comment from Wong / October 25, 2011 at 06:48 pm
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Sorry i don't see a bunch of white middle class people cutting the fins off sharks, and then throwing back in the water alive. Which is leading to many species be threatened to extinction. As far as i know it is only the Chinese who hold the shark fin soup in high regard.
Curious replying to a comment from Sonia / October 25, 2011 at 06:58 pm
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My tax dollars!!!! Lol
Some Guy replying to a comment from hop / October 25, 2011 at 07:01 pm
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'This is terrible news, next thing you know these puritanical, chain-restaurant eaters are going to force a ban on foie gras and then a ban on offal, because "eating guts is so gross".'

First of all, foie gras is cruel. Second of all, how to you get from banning something for the safety of animals to banning something because it's "gross."

Shark fin soup wasn't banned because it's gross.
Wrong replying to a comment from Wong / October 25, 2011 at 07:02 pm
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"Nice! A bunch of middle class White people determine, yet again; what is best for the environment and blame it on the Chinese."

Actually, these "middle class white people" are our elected local government. I don't always agree with them either, but if you're going to complain about "white people" acting against animal cruelty and environmental waste, I think you're in the wrong country, chum.
electric / October 25, 2011 at 07:05 pm
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/19/shark-massacre-colombia

Ignorant.

Killing sharks for fins only - ignorant.

Wong, how many chinese wedding you goto in Toronto where shark-fin soup served? Lets first establish your innocence.
Robyn / October 25, 2011 at 07:25 pm
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Alright! Another step closer to saving the sharks! And Wong, you idiot, I'm part Chinese and I support the ban. I believe all countries, even Canada, lack sufficient animal cruelty laws.
Seshan replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / October 25, 2011 at 07:36 pm
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You Sir, are a idiot.
Bill Foonman / October 25, 2011 at 07:53 pm
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So Mayor "one term" Ford, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday,and councillors David Shiner and Giorgio Mammoliti felt it was more important for the Chinese community to have their bowl of soup than to protect the 100 million sharks per year that are currently slaughtered to provide this delicacy.

What kind of boneheads are we electing to represent us?

Simply pathetic!
Nick replying to a comment from Wong / October 25, 2011 at 08:58 pm
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@Wong, re. middle class white people vilifying the Chinese, I'd suggest you read the article: "Initially suggested by councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam..." Councillor Wong-Tam doesn't look white to my eyes from her City of Toronto website!
Doughy / October 25, 2011 at 09:04 pm
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Sweet! I couldn't make the protest but I'm glad to see the ban passed. Shark fin has zero flavor! It's the broth (pork or chicken) that makes it a delicacy. What's even funnier is that heavy metals like mercury, are in the highest concentration in the sharks fins, so eating the fin is just slowly poisoning the people eating it. Now I hope there's a heavy heavy hand while enforcing this law.
sucks to be you / October 25, 2011 at 09:20 pm
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Congrats City Council!

I hope each of the Councillors (minus those who voted against the bill) foots the bill for any future s. 2(b) Charter challenges to this moronic bill.

What a way to blow $1 million worth of future legal fees--paid, of course, by taxpayers--for a bylaw that won't stand up in court!
your argument is invalid replying to a comment from sucks to be you / October 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm
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I fail to see how s 2(b) of the Charter: "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication" has been breached by this ban.

Would you like to enlighten us with a well thought out argument to support a s 2(b) breach? Because a straw man argument would swiftly be thrown out of court.

In any case, it could probably be saved by s 1 of the Charter as reasonable so as to be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Gravy Train / October 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm
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Excuse me while I enjoy my shark fin with gravy.
Gravy Train / October 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm
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Happy to enjoy my shark fin soup on the other side of Steeles.
Charlie Sheen / October 26, 2011 at 12:20 am
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FINNING.





I think there are more important things for city hall to be doing....
yes replying to a comment from Charlie Sheen / October 26, 2011 at 07:40 am
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Yes they could be, like voting on what weight lose program the fords should be on!
mcflyer / October 26, 2011 at 09:04 am
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This is so wong.
Marlon / October 26, 2011 at 09:27 am
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Restaurant owners in markham are smiling
Nick replying to a comment from Marlon / October 26, 2011 at 11:11 am
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@Marlon re. ban not being in other jurisdictions: hopefully Toronto has set the bar for other cities, in the way that the bag fee has been introduced elsewhere, recycling is pretty much everywhere now, etc. We can either have a race to the top, or to the bottom, and I'm glad to see that Council did the right thing here.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Seshan / October 26, 2011 at 11:41 am
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My point was not that wildlife should not be conserved, nor that shark finning is good. My point was that this is not an appropriate matter for Toronto Council, who should be in full-blown crisis mode because Canada's largest city is being run into the ground by a mayor with the intellectual capacity of a beluga whale. You guys are chasing a red herring, and the city has jumped the shark. (Is that enough fish metaphors for you?)

Ok, the media took the bait (oops, one more...) and now many more people are aware of what a bad practice eating shark fins is, which is the real goal anyways (the law is unenforceable in practice). But we should be using our energy and Council's to rally against the Ford policies that make Toronto a laughingstock while Chicago and New York surge. (i.e. only city in North America to remove bike lanes, only city in North America to cancel LRT lines, only city in North America to have a mayor not attend cultural festivals...) In the 1980s, New York sent teams of politicians to Toronto to learn how to make dumpy New York more like the successful, happy city to the north. Now we go to New York of all places to learn how to make a street tree or bike lane or express bus route. Pathetic.

PS - If you are really into wildlife conservation, focus on getting the Toronto Zoo turned into a nonprofit like the WCS, which runs all of the New York City zoos and aquariums and does outstanding conservation work. Selling it to a profit-making venture, which will be Ford's goal, will be a disaster for the animals and the citizens. Do you want two Ripley's in the city?
stanley who / October 26, 2011 at 11:47 am
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lake ontario has sharks?? OMG!
i really hope they ban chinese bbq from hanging in the window, ewwwwy gross. i dont know how they live like that, go back to your own country.
pdalep / October 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm
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If it was shark soup, nobody would have a problem. Its the fact that only 3% of the fish is being used and the rest is tossed like garbage. Eat everything. We don't eat just the foot of a cow. We eat the majority of the animal.

I believe nobody is going to go hungry over this ban.
Alex replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / October 26, 2011 at 01:30 pm
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What's wrong with city council passing a law that will help save an endangered species while at the same time bringing in much needed revenue? I agree they should be focusing more on transit, but not every single city council meeting can be about transit.

With Mississauga and Toronto (and somewhere in northern Ontario that started the whole thing) all passing this law it is a start, and it shows other cities it can be done. If the city is sued over the law, we can always ask WWF or any other animal protection agency for money to help pay our legal fees, it's not like they could turn down a public plea like that.
Marlon replying to a comment from Nick / October 26, 2011 at 02:18 pm
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Don't get me wrong. I support the ban entirely. I'm just saying markham will never budge on this issue and many Chinese people swear by the stuff. That means that a huge amount of customers at places like bright pearl will now be traveling to markham for special occasions
Stet replying to a comment from hop / October 26, 2011 at 03:22 pm
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Shark fin has no culinary benefit. You're kidding yourself. Foie gras and offal aren't threatening the very existence of anything on Earth like finning has.

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