Tory MPs defeat bill to ban shark fin imports
THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE-01/04/2013
Tory MPs defeat NDP bill to ban shark fin imports
Photograph by: Kin Cheung, The Associated Press , Vancouver Sun
Conservative MPs have narrowly defeated a B.C. New Democratic Party MP’s bill calling for a ban on importing shark fins.
The bill, had it passed, would have been sent to a parliamentary committee for study and possible amendments before a final vote. But it was defeated Wednesday evening in a 143138 vote in the House of Commons.
On Monday, MPs from all parties described the practice of “shark finning” – an animal’s fins are severed, and it’s then tossed back into the ocean to die – as “barbaric” and a form of torture.
Canada prohibits any fishery in Canadian waters that involves the harvesting only of shark fins, and government MPs indicated during Monday’s debate that the government will look at ways to prevent import of fins from countries that don’t have similar rules.
The bill’s sponsor, New Westminster-Coquitlam New Democrat Fin Donnelly, said he hopes the government will follow through.
“I am disappointed more Conservative MPs did not support this important legislation. I hope the government will take immediate action to restrict the importation of shark fins to Canada,” Donnelly said in a statement after the vote.
Monday, government MPs said they opposed a total ban because it would prohibit the import of products from sustainable shark fisheries.
Canada imports roughly 100 tonnes of shark fin product annually, and the product is a popular and expensive delicacy at Chinese restaurants. Minister of State Alice Wong triggered a public outcry last fall when she ate shark fin soup at a restaurant in her Richmond riding.
Donnelly cited a new academic study that concluded shark finning plays a role in the estimated 100 million – perhaps as many as 273 million – shark deaths each year.
“This is having a devastating impact on shark populations, which is harmful to ocean ecosystems.”
He said the government’s proposal to limit imports to countries that ban shark finning wouldn’t work, since Costa Rica doesn’t allow the practice, yet finning there is known to be widespread and run by organized crime.
Source: The Vancouver Sun
Private member’s bill pushing shark fin import ban fails
Restaurants say awareness of shark finning has led to declining popularity of product
A proposed ban on the importation of shark fins into Canada died in the House of Commons Wednesday, but even before the vote merchants in Ottawa said the controversial product may disappear regardless of legislation, as demand declines.
The demand for shark fins comes for shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese dish, but Canada is a small player in the market, importing about 50 tonnes of shark fins every year.
The product is controversial because of the practice of shark finning, which involves removing the fin from a living shark and then tossing its body back into the ocean to die. While shark finning is already illegal in Canadian waters, there is no law to prevent importation.
Fin Donnelly, the NDP’s fisheries and oceans critic, had proposed a ban on the importation of shark fin, but it was defeated in second reading Wednesday night by a vote of 138 for and 143 against.
Consumer demand declining
But restaurateurs say consumers are already reducing the product to a niche item.
Ottawa’s Sea King Shark Fin restaurant says it will use the fins it has in stock and won’t replace them.
At Yangtze, Ottawa’s biggest Chinese restaurant, shark fin came off the menu 18 months ago, according to manager Kim Ng.
“If people specifically request it then we’ll bring it in, but it hasn’t happened in a while,” said Ng. “A lot of them are turned away by the way the shark is caught and how it’s finned and all that, so they’re choosing alternate soups for their occasion.”
“It’s the older generation that prefer the shark fin soup,” said Ng. “The younger generation including the generation before, if they ban it, not a big loss for us.”
Toronto ban overturned
There is currently an electronic petition calling for a ban on the sale of shark fin with close to 1,500 signatures that has been sent to Ottawa’s City Hall.
So far 18 municipalities across the country have passed bylaws to ban the sale of shark fins, but the ban in Toronto was overturned in December.
In that ruling, Ontario Superior Court judge James Spence ruled the city didn’t have the power to enforce such a ban.
“The power to deal with municipal issues is a broad power,” Spence said. “However, that fact does not mean that an issue is a municipal issue merely because a policy decision is taken by city council that an issue is important.”
Source: CBC NEWS
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.