Toronto City Council today banned the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin within City limits. The ban comes on the heels of similar bans that have recently been passed in Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga. Pickering is currently considering a similar prohibition.
Prior to the passing of the Mississauga and Toronto bans, confusion surrounding the authority of Ontario municipalities to prohibit shark fins threatened to thwart the initiative.
In response, members of Lawyers for Animal Welfare (LAW) provided a legal opinion, advised members of City Council and presented at Committee, educating Councillors that the proposed bylaws were in fact within municipal jurisdiction.
“With the passage of the shark fin ban Toronto City Council has shown that they are not afraid to take progressive action to protect animals and the environment. Council has embraced the maxim “think globally and act locally” by recognizing that cities do not exist in a vacuum,” said Nick Wright, Executive Director of Lawyers for Animal Welfare.
Fuelled by the demand for shark fin soup and considered a delicacy in some cultures, shark finning is a widespread practice that occurs when a shark is captured, its fins are sliced off, and the shark is discarded back into the ocean.
Shark finning causes immense pain and suffering, as the sharks are nearly always still alive when their fins are removed. After being tossed back into the ocean without their fins, the live sharks usually suffocate to death. Sharks breathe by having water flow through their gills while swimming, but without fins they are unable to swim and are therefore unable to absorb adequate oxygen. The result is a slow, painful death.
Worldwide, shark finning is a cause of rapidly plummeting shark populations, with some shark species reportedly having been reduced by 80% or more in the past 50 years. The practice is also incredibly wasteful, as only the fins of the shark are used. The rest of the body, worth far less than the fins, is simply thrown away.
Lawyers for Animal Welfare (LAW) is an incorporated Registered Charity dedicated to advancing public knowledge of animal practices and preventing the abuse and killing of animals through the enforcement of existing laws.
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