Mississauga Group protests shark fin ban

By Chris Clay, Mississauga.com ,
24. October 2011

A group of residents and business owners gathered at Celebration Square today to demand the City of Mississauga repeal a recently-passed bylaw banning shark fin products.

The protest, organized in part by the Mississauga Chinese Business Association (MCBA), featured about 70 people waving placards. They were there to decry the bylaw regulating the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fin products.

The fins are often used in soup and other forms of Asian cooking. Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy by some and is often served at special occasions such as weddings.

Stephen Chu, MCBA president, called the bylaw “unfair” and said if City Council was truly serious about protecting the creatures, it would have banned any product derived from sharks instead of just fins. Chu also believes the ban could start the City down a slippery slope.

“If the City bans shark fin today, it can ban something else tomorrow,” said Chu.

Shark finning refers to the removal of fins before dumping the sharks back into the water, often alive. The sharks die soon after.

A previous report to the City said it’s estimated that 70-100 million sharks are killed each year for fins. It’s been suggested that if that trend continues, most species of sharks will be lost in the next 10 years.

Chu also wondered why the municipality would reject previous advice from its legal department telling councillors the City doesn’t have the authority to enforce such a ban. When the ban was first introduced, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Mullin said she believed the City was on solid legal ground while George Rust-D’Eye, the City’s interim integrity commissioner and a municipal law expert, has stated municipalities do have the jurisdiction to impose such a ban.

Lawrence Lo, director of the Summit Garden restaurant, said he isn’t concerned about his business losing money because of the ban. He said, in a democracy, people should have the right to determine for themselves if they want to purchase the product or not.

“Give people the choice; right now they don’t (have one),” said Lo.

Mickey Frost, the City’s director of enforcement, accepted a petition from the protestors.

Frost said enforcement of the ban is on hold until a committee struck to work on an enforcement plan reports back to Council.

A first-time offender could be hit with a fine of up to $15,000 while subsequent convictions could reach as high as $30,000.

When Council enacted the bylaw, it also approved a motion to ask Health Canada to stop the importing of shark fin products into the country and that the City ask other municipalities to join the lobbying of the federal government to enact a ban on shark finning.

Earlier in the day, the Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association, which includes the MCBA plus similar associations from Toronto, Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough and York, appeared outside Toronto City Hall to demand that Toronto councillors refuse to pass a bylaw banning the products.

Note: Please see also the related PDF Mississauga Shark Fin Ban, By-Law Number 0268-2011

Source: Mississauga.com. Photo Credit: Rob Beintema.




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