Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond move toward regional shark fin ban

Braised shark fin soup. Photo credit: HungryAngMo.

Serving shark fins in Vancouver, Burnaby or Richmond may soon be like breaking smoking bylaws.

Vancouver City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to work toward a regional ban on the selling shark fins, which would be the first such ban in Canada. Currently, some form of the ban is supported in a handful of cities in BC, including Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam and North Vancouver. 

Vision Councillor Kerry Jang said that there is no specific timeline, but Vancouver city staff are coordinating with Richmond and Burnaby.

Shark fins are most commonly consumed in the form of soup in Chinese culture. Shark fin soup is considered luxury cuisine, and is usually served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets. 

David Chung, a restaurateur and head of the BC Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association in Richmond told The Canadian Press that the ban is culturally insensitive and he would fight this ban through a petition and even legal action if necessary.

Chung said all his products have a certificate of origin and have been inspected by government officials. He said none are obtained through "finning" - where fins are cut from the shark, which is then thrown back in the water to die.

"If the petition doesn't work, we'll demonstrate, if demonstrations don't work we'll go to legal action," Chung said.

"No matter which ethnic group you belong to, it's an ethical issue that effects everybody," Jang told The Vancouver Observer. "There are many other ways you can serve food with sustainable options, and that's what they're doing in Asia."
Jang said that he first became aware of "finning" when he was planning the UBC Faculty of Medicine's annual banquet five years ago.
"One of my assistants said that she wouldn't go if shark fin was on the menu," he said. He said he's since become a staunch opponent of selling shark fins.
"[Richmond mayor] Malcolm Brodie suggested Surrey may be next to ban shark fins," he said.

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