Twenty-twelve has been, for the most part, a good year for shark fin legislation. During the spring, Port Moody made history by becoming the first municipality in British Columbia to ban shark fin products. Over the next several months, a growing number of B.C. municipalities, including Coquitlam, also examined shark fin bans.
In the fall, the Union of BC Municipalities passed a resolution calling for a provincial ban of shark-fin products. The good news isn't restricted to B.C. Other big Canadian cities, such as Calgary and Toronto, also passed bans this year. Unfortunately, due to pressure from some members of the Chinese business community, an Ontario judge recently ruled the Toronto shark-fin bylaw invalid.
It may seem that sharks are on a winning path from the threat of extinction; however, with a slow growth rate, late maturity and low reproductive rates, not to mention a serious decline of shark populations in the last two decades, sharks will need all the help they can get to make a comeback.
Despite the growing number of municipal bans across the country, Canada is still importing unsustainable and illegal shark products and contributing to the global threat of many shark species.
A recent study conducted by Guelph University found that 76 per cent of the fins they tested for DNA matched sharks that are threatened or endangered. The good news is that last year, MP Fin Donnelly introduced a private member's bill, which, if passed,
would ban the importation of shark fin into Canada. With the second reading of this bill expected early in the new year, I contacted my MP, James Moore, to ask him if he would be supporting this bill. While I was delighted that he did not say no, he remained undecided.
Canada has a great opportunity to take a leadership role in saving endangered species and putting an end to the cruel practice of shark finning. This issue is much more than a cultural or political issue, but rather a global issue. If we don't all work together, we all face the disastrous consequences.
I hope Minister Moore will help carry the optimism for sharks into 2013 by supporting this bill, and I hope his constituents, most of whom now have municipal bans, will encourage him to do the same.
Jane Thomsing Port Coquitlam