A city-wide ban on shark fin products has passed third reading at city council and is up for adoption, although it has no teeth without federal and provincial legislation.
The current ban had been in the works since last year and, should it be finally adopted, would prohibit the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fin products, “with the exception of possession for bona fide educational research purposes.” Those found breaking the bylaw could be fined up to $1,500.
Shark fins are used in traditional medicines and to make a popular Chinese soup, and acquiring them involves catching a live shark and cutting off all its fins. The animal is then thrown back into the water where it either bleeds to death or suffocates without the forward propulsion needed to fill its gills with oxygen-rich water.
“A bylaw prohibiting shark fin in Delta could be used in Delta’s continued lobbying efforts to show senior levels of government that this issue is important at a local level,” according to a report by city staff. The report also said that similar initiatives are in effect in other Metro Vancouver cities.
Coun. Lois Jackson noted at council on Feb. 11 that in 2013, city council decided to send letters to Ottawa and Victoria asking senior governments to enact legislation to ban the distribution, sale, possession and importation of shark fin products. She said the ban never happened, and suggested an amendment to the bylaws to send letters once again.
Kendra Luckow, who lobbied council about a ban in April 2018, said she was thrilled to see the bylaws adopted. She is aware that the bylaw can only be symbolic without explicit legislation at federal and provincial levels, which is why she is engaging the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture, as well.
Senate bill S-238, which is an act to ban shark fin imports and exports, passed third reading last October and is awaiting debate in the House of Commons.
“I know there’s still final adoption [at city council], but to see it go this far, I’m really happy,” Luckow told the Reporter. “Throughout the year, I have been sending letters and been in contact with people both provincially and federally, trying to get support and show that needs to be done.”
So far, her correspondence with Ottawa has been passed along to staff, but she has not received any information regarding the timeline of the bill banning shark fin products in the House of Commons. She hopes recent media awareness about shark fin hunting will aid in her efforts.
“I think with movies like Sharkwater [Extinction] and all these things coming out now, it’s just starting to get people’s attention. So hopefully, something comes of that, too,” she said.