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UPDATE: UBCM supports shark fin industry fight

Fin Donnelly, New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody MP, speaks to the media on Tuesday about his federal bill to ban the importation of shark fin products to Canada. Civic politicians from the mainland and Victoria, as well as Fin Free Victoria students from Glenlyon Norfolk and St. Margaret’s schools, were also on hand. - Daniel Palmer/News staff
Fin Donnelly, New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody MP, speaks to the media on Tuesday about his federal bill to ban the importation of shark fin products to Canada. Civic politicians from the mainland and Victoria, as well as Fin Free Victoria students from Glenlyon Norfolk and St. Margaret’s schools, were also on hand.
— image credit: Daniel Palmer/News staff

City councillors from across the province spent the week in Victoria discussing issues ranging from the legalization of marijuana to Internet voting.

But perhaps the most enthusiastic support coming out of the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference is for Lower Mainland NDP MP Fin Donnelly’s push to ban the importation of shark fin products to Canada.

In conjunction with the Humane Society International/Canada and alongside municipal politicians, Donnelly held a press conference at Ship Point on Tuesday to raise public awareness of his federal bill and convince members of the Conservative Party to support it.

“We’re anticipating the bill to come forward late this year, or early next year, so that gives us some time to still let the members of Parliament know across the country how important it is that they vote for the ban of shark fin in Canada,” Donnelly said.

Victoria Coun. Thornton-Joe brought forward a successful motion to council last February to support Donnelly’s bill, and said the city is not considering a bylaw to ban the sale of shark-fin products at this time.

“If we can have the province ban shark fins as well (as the federal ban on imports), those are the best bets in trying to resolve the problem. But at a local level, it’s about education and working with the Chinese restaurants,” she said.

Thornton-Joe said a local ban on shark-fin products would still be considered if higher levels of government do not act.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, who has spearheaded the ban of shark-fin products in Metro Vancouver, said the municipalities of Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby are working together to produce an amalgamated ban.

“Otherwise, it’s too easy to jump across a bridge to another jurisdiction,” he said, adding that the joint bans will likely happen at the end of next year.

“We wanted to give restaurants and shops that sell shark fin time to adjust,” Jang said. “We just didn’t want to go cold turkey on them, because that would just cause a huge upset.”

Along with Jang and Thornton-Joe, councillors from Port Moody, Coquitlam and Abbotsford were present to offer their support for the federal bill.

Fin Free Victoria members from Glenlyon Norfolk and St. Margaret’s schools were also on hand.

“When people get educated about the issue, there really is no hesitation to support it,” Donnelly said.

The UBCM passed a resolution Friday morning calling for a provincial ban on the sale, trade and distribution of shark-fin products, and supporting the federal bill that would ban the importation of shark fins.

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for fin harvesting.

Due to that rate of harvesting, they estimate that shark populations have dropped by 90 per cent in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea in the last 15 years.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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