A group of people opposing shark finning is planning a demonstration in front of Maple Ridge municipal hall on Tuesday.
A movement driven by the Vancouver Animal Defence League has been advocating banning shark fins, which are used in some Asian foods.
According to the Vancouver Animal Defence League, it is estimated that 100 million sharks are “finned,” that is, they are pulled onto boats, their fins cut off, and then thrown back into the ocean.
“It is an ecological emergency and the sharks have simply run out of time. The only way to save them, and the health of the oceans, is by means of an outright shark fin ban, immediately or sooner,” says Anthony Marr, spokesman for the Vancouver Animal Defence League, who has been and will be presenting to the city councils of municipalities throughout the province.
Maple Ridge council has requested a report from staff on the issue, and it is scheduled to be on Monday’s council workshop agenda.
The Vancouver Animal Defence League gives the following reasons for banning shark fins:
1. Shark-finning is exceedingly cruel. Sharks caught mostly with long lines are hauled into boats, have their fins cut off and the rest of their still-alive bodies cast back into the ocean. This is tantamount to some aliens abducting you, cutting off all four limbs and dumping you back on to the road. This is done due to the fact that while shark meat fetches less than $2 per kg, shark fins fetch up to $2,000 per kg.
2. Each year, more than 100 million sharks (latest estimate) are finned around the world. Practically every country with a coastline does it, the “Big 5” being Costa Rica, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Indonesia (Taiwan has recently banned shark-finning).
3. Of the 450 shark species, one-third are endangered. Since shark-finning is indiscriminate, and almost no records are kept, there is no way of telling which fin in Chinatown belongs to what species short of a fin-by-fin DNA analysis. Who would pay for this? The Pew Environmental Group in the United States published a report in early August 2012, on their country-wide DNA survey of random shark fin samples from 14 cities, which found that 81 per cent of them were from endangered or threatened species. What more proof do we need?
4. Sharks are extremely slow reproducing. Whereas most fish spawn thousands of eggs every years, shark give birth to only two to four pups every two to four years. Most do not reach sexual maturity until they are 10 to 20 years old. There is no way they can sustain the onslaught and be able to recover, making this matter a state of emergency.
5. Sharks are apex predators, which prey on medium-sized fish, but not small fish upon which the medium-sized fish prey. If sharks are wiped out, the medium-sized fish would proliferate and over-prey on the small fish, and the entire oceanic ecosystem could collapse. The opposition saying that suppressing shark populations would benefit human fisheries simply does not understand this fact.
6. Shark fins are of little nutritional value, but due to their high cost are served in large banquets as a status symbol for the hosts.
7. A recent poll conducted in San Francisco showed that 76 per cent of San Franciscans and 70 per cent of Chinese San Franciscans are in support of the California ban.
8. International law (CITES & UN) and Canadian federal law (WAPPRIITA) forbid trade on products containing endangered species parts, and Canada’s own Fisheries Act forbids shark-finning in Canadian waters, which makes any city still allowing the shark fin trade in violation of all these laws.