Toronto City Council votes yes to support the shark fin ban

Toronto City Council votes yes to support the shark fin banToronto City Council vote unanimously to support the ban on the sale and consumption of shark fins. Many concerned people, including celebrities, shared their opinions on the inhumane methods of finning sharks.

TV’s Survivorman, Les Stroud, told the committee that he has gone swimming in waters where sharks live many times without incident. He informed the council that more than 70 million sharks are killed each year, telling them, “We have the opportunity now, like in California, and soon the rest of the world we hope, and like the whales before, to stop the slaughter of sharks.”

Some members of the Asian community spoke against the ban, but award-winning Sharkwater director Rob Stewart said that killing elephants for ivory and eating panda bears have been banned in an effort to save the planet, and shark finning should also be banned for the same reason, he said, noting, “especially on the planet we exist today, it needs to change.”

The final bylaw to ban the sale of shark fins will likely be voted on in October.

Hawaii, Oregon, California, Saipan, Guam, and Brantford ON have all passed legislation to ban the sale of shark fins. High profile supporters of the shark fin ban include Edward Norton, Ian Somerhalder, Ke$ha, Kristen Bell, Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Vartan, Megan Fox, Paul Rudd, Yao Ming, Ang Lee, Michael Sheen and Gordon Ramsay.

Many people believe shark fining to be an evil practice; sharks are pulled out of the water where their fins are removed, the mangled body is then tossed back in to the ocean and left to die slowly over a period of days. The fins are then used as an essentially flavourless ingredient in shark fin soup. This practice is one of the main causes for the rapid extinction of numerous shark species.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. David Neumann • September 11, 2011 @ 12:47 AM

    From Brantford: Congratulations on a fine achievement to get shark fins banned in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

  2. mark • September 11, 2011 @ 12:51 AM

    Why is it Toronto bans shark fin soup so fast but they are ok with cruel Rodeos and elephant abusing circuses?

  3. amy • September 11, 2011 @ 1:49 AM

    they’re only concern about the inhumane treatment of shark fishing, so why don’t we just have new methodology to make a less inhumane appoach of shark fishing? taking away a piece of tradition for centuries have the asian culture consumed this product is like taking away a piece of everyone’s cultural food away because its process was deem inhumane. so if the problem itself is inhumane, why don’t we simply create a better approach rather than just ban it to not promote illegal and illicit activities? did banning alcohol did well to our nation? to canada, yes, to america? no, it gave birth to the mafia and underground activities. we need to negotiate and seek a more balanced compromise, not simply taking away the people’s treasure. this ban is too much of a lob-sided solution,e.g. if we take the entire shark and find make full use of the entire shark it would definitely seem less inhumane. i agree that taking only the fins and throwing the body back into the ocean for it to die of a slow death is truly cruel, but i don’t support this ban, we should work this out on a better approach in fishing sharks rather than just bannign the whole process. people will still fish and eat shark, you cannot stop them, but to stop the purchase of shark openly will only promote close purchases and promoting illicit activities.

    don’t criminalize them, don’t steal what is their culture. we don’t take it as a luxury item to wrap around ourselves, we eat them. this is not ivory hunting. we don’t destroy their habitats like the panda bears, or steal their fur for prestige. unfortunately there is no current method to cultivate sharks like chickens, pigs, or cows. like what theamazingatheist said that if we don’t eat chickens or any meat product, they will go extinct or scarce because we won’t find the need to domesticate them or farm them. if we can make a farm for the fish, why can’t we make a farm for the sharks?land may be limited, but the sea is everywhere.

    sorry, excuse me for my brevity, i am on a tablet which cannot type so well.

    good day everyone. i swear, the chinese people who are attesting to this ban aren’t great speakers, and i think that toronto will only go for the white man in a suit who makes “more sense” to you as a non-chinese with lack of cultural sensivity with your hamburgers and hot dogs at every corner in downtown, chewing down the meats of the animals who are poorly treated in tight dirty spaces without clean air or land to roam before they hit the meat house, maybe we should ban them too. maybe we should ban every animal that is poorly treated.

    if you say that because “the shark is endangered” well, so is any animal on this planet that is NOT domesticated or cultivated on a farm being massively produced. perhaps we should for the animals so we don’t over hunt them or over fish them either. what about japan, should we ban their fish because they’re overfishing their seas and killing dolphins and whales as well? what are you going to do about their fishing of whales and dolphins? they’re still going do it, but they don’t care if we don’t buy them, they will still eat it.

    anyway basically i think this is stupid, brash, and insensitive to the cultures that embrace these foods from these particular animals. instead of taking away something permanently, we should find solutions in the issues we are regarding.
    i hope you understand, aas i am hving a really frustratng time typig on this thing.

  4. Ryan • September 11, 2011 @ 4:22 AM

    Amy, you are missing one very important point about your culture. It was not part of your ‘culture’ to eat so many sharks. Historically, this dish was reserved for very few and as such, not eaten so often. In modern times, due to technology and over-efficient fishing techniques too many sharks (and other fishes) are being taken from the seas without a second thought. If it’s your culture you value so much then why not preserve it and stop the rising Asian middle-class from eating shark fin soup; historically and culturally they never did. It was only a dish affordable by the rich. Just because one aspect of your culture is now ‘accessible’ to many more Asians doesn’t give any person the right to destroy food chains and alter ecosystems (as in the way fishing for sharks does). Sincerely, I hope I haven’t offended you or your culture but this is an unsustainable practice that is out of control for some of the reasons I mentioned and many more I didn’t (and hope others will).
    With respect, Ryan

  5. DanHam • September 11, 2011 @ 5:54 AM

    @theyre only concern about the inhumane treatment of shark fishing, so why dont we just have new methodology to make a less inhumane appoach of shark fishing? taking away a piece of tradition for centuries have the asian culture consumed this product is like taking away a piece of everyones cultural food away because its process was deem inhumane. so if the problem itself is inhumane, why dont we simply create a better approach rather than just ban it to not promote illegal and illicit activities?

    Whether or not a small sale in illegal and illicit sales may happen, the less mass sales from any place that nets sharks, and then cuts their fins of, and throw them back into the sea to die.

    millions a year, without which the rest of the ecosystem will go out of balance, and without such you and I can’t exist.

    I agree if there were some form of “humane” way to fish these sharks it would be different.

    But the mass killings of sharks (by the millions) and how they’re killed (fins cut off and thrown back overboard to drown) Is completely insane.

    @if you say that because the shark is endangered well, so is any animal on this planet that is NOT domesticated or cultivated on a farm being massively produced

    Also horribly not true.

  6. natessa hull • September 11, 2011 @ 9:28 AM

    i agree to stop crulty to all animals,it has to stop open your eyes everyone stop looking the other way,whats going to happen when everything becomes extinct one by one its already happeningwhat are you going to do when our animals are all gone
    animal lover 1o1my friend is starting a no kill shelter outside of brockville ont,im #one on the list to work there,,,leave all animals and there nature alone your distroying it with you so called progress

  7. amy • September 11, 2011 @ 10:56 AM

    it was a not a problem ages ago due to the technology and the limited prosperity that was only rsestricted to certain groups or individuals with that wealth who could afford such a dish. obviously after the industrial age and 2000, the chinese markets have expanded expotentially where there are more middle classes than lower classes or classes have rose to a level where shark fin soup and abalone dishes were much affordable without breaking the bank to appease your guest, friends, and family. Shark fin soup is not eaten on a casual basis, it is eaten on a special occasion whenever it arisen. to what special occasion that is owed to is none of my business, it could range from birthdays to weddings or to lunar festivals and etc.

    THE TREATMENT OF SHARKS MUST BE STOPPED. But we mustn’t stop a part of someone’s culture. We need to intervene and change international laws in regards to oversea fishing of sharks and their ill-treatment of their fishing methodologies.

    @DanHam, if i take snakes as a lovely recipe for a dish which has grown to be admired for its taste and delicacy that is enjoyed by over a half of billion people, then i would need enough snakes to supply this demand, but if we only hunt for these animals, and according to how they reproduce and naturally mmultiply, then it wouldn’t be enough to really supply that half billion figuratively speaking…same applies to the sharks. we need to cultivate them and farm them so they wouldn’t go extinct, so it would’t imbalace our ecosystem and unnecessarily interrupt their food chains because it will ultimately affect us in the end, which is probably already happening. I AGREE WITH YOU GUYS, BUT WE CANNOT SIMPLY TAKE THINGS AWAY WITHOUT SOCIAL LEARNING AND SOCIAL ADAPTATION. We need to amend this issue, not simply to take it away. Banning the sales of shark fins in toronto, california, oregon, and etc, will not prevent this poorly excused of a process in fishing sharks. extortion and boy-cotting does NOT work. before the british realized that there are much more customers readily available to take in their sorry-for-excuse-of-tea to the americans back in the 17th century, they were obviously affected due to the embargo act and boy-cotting of british goods and the increment of american patrionizing.

    unfortunately, china itself is a major customer to the shark fin soup market, where they have 2 billion people in their nation to whole-heartedly consume such a product where the fishing of sharks and the following of its ill-treatment or process is not affected.

    this WILL not solve the ill-process of shark fishig. we need to go to the bigger steps and ask the big folks to help us intervene. i think it is WRONG for that celebrity to induce such bans without amending anything. he says his claim, he made the awareness, and induces a ban that does not help. it just made the chinese or asian communities suffer to this cultural insensitivity and poor enlightenment of dealing with this issue or case. they are angry and sad and feel helpless because they are constantly viewed as a minority in the lights of the white man in a suit. as a volunteer in the ontario pc party, this one man made a 20 minute speech in one of the political campaign parties, and he discussed about this “language barrier” between him and our society where he was automatically mistreated due todifference in language. as mark pagel, a biologist in the university of reading, has claimed that this language barrier has caused our indifference in the treatment of those who we do not share the same language as others, thus miscommunication, misunderstandings, and conflicts arises. humanity has been deduced to salvagery and lack of enlightenment. he mentioned the story of the tower in babylon, where all people had the same language and decided one day to build a tower that would reach up to the heavens near God, but God was furious and destroyed the tower and separated everyone and gave them different languages so they will never devise such a plan together again and become helpless between each other.

    he is saying that we need to communicate with each other to not create that indifference, to not create that conflict, and especially to not create that misunderstanding between differing groups. that is why simply taking something away would be deem as culturally insensitive and can bear misunderstanding that the “Chinaman” is a uncultured man because he eats a product that is inhumanely treated and killed.

    anyway, i hope people can understand what i am trying to say here. ecuse for my brevity, once again i am typing on this blasted tablet.

  8. TheTruth • September 11, 2011 @ 1:02 PM

    @amy “but to stop the purchase of shark openly will only promote close purchases and promoting illicit activities.”

    Agreed. Yes this will reduce the “sale/purchase” of shark fins in Toronto. But it won’t change the fact that fisherman off the coast of god knows where are still going to be slaughtering the sharks for their fins to sell regardless if they are banned or not.

    @Ryan though I can agree with your post, I find it rather ignorant and simple minded. Even if shark fins have not been accessible to the mass majority of any culture/society, the food/ingredient has been a part of that culture for many hundreds/thousands of years. By taking this away we’re essentially taking away a part of one’s culture. Again, this isn’t the same as ivory that just sits there looking pretty. People eat these things for texture/prestige/health reasons. None of these reasons may have evidence of their effects, but people should have a choice in what they believe in and what they choose to consume.

    We have tons upon tons upon tons upon tons of electronic waste every year being mass produced for the billions of people around the world who can afford it but don’t buy every single unit. WHERE are all the efforts to ban the sale and manufacturing of these goods to help “save the planet”? Should we also, not be allowed to buy all this junk just because we have the means, the technology and the accessibility?

    @DanHam “without which the rest of the ecosystem will go out of balance, and without such you and I cant exist. ” Really? One of, if not the most intelligent, adaptive, species in the world is going to go extinct because there are no SHARKS to control the ecosystem. A bit dramatic, no?

    1. I do agree that the cruelty of how shark fins are obtained should be stopped. Though, I do not agree with an outright ban.

    2. It’s amazing how we talk about trying to save the planet by doing this, stopping that, preserving this, moving those, killing off some of that etc… Really, maybe we should look at the real problem. Over population of humans. Maybe we ought to think about letting the Hannibal’s have a go for a round or two to help “save the planet!”. Gasp.

    3. Chef Ramsay is my hero, so if he’s really supporting this, In the end I have no choice but to put my own thoughts aside and conform to the overlords.

  9. Jim • September 11, 2011 @ 9:46 PM

    I am sorry but using the excuse that it is a cultural right is just plain ignorant. Just because a culture has been doing something for many years does not make it right. The slaughter of sharks is not only wrong due to the ecological impact, it is wrong due to the cruelty. Being cruel to animals is not right whether it is a cultural custom or not. Aside from all of that. I am a scuba diver and I have seen first hand what the results of over fishing of sharks has done to the environment. Any one that thinks it is ok to destroy the environment based on an ethnic custom needs to get an education.

  10. Trevor • September 11, 2011 @ 10:54 PM

    Shark fun soup is delicious. At least we can still get it out where I live. I was in Japan on business a few weeks ago and had the privilege of eating dolphin for the first time. Now that is something that we all need to try at least once. Yum.

  11. Anna • September 11, 2011 @ 11:34 PM

    Please, I need some advice as I have a dilemma. I work for a big Alberta’s company which choose to have an American supplier who by selling shark fins is involved in shark finning trade. What shell I do, how can I react, I think about this every day. I am a scuba diver, I was observing sharks in Honduras, I want to do something to protect them – I can not be quiet. I am just afraid if I say something what all my bosses do not like – it will be against me as I gave away to the public a confidential information. If we all boycott all restaurants and all companies who participate in shark fins trade it should help.

  12. Diane • September 11, 2011 @ 11:41 PM

    OMG what is wrong with you all? especially you Trevor, sick, sick sick minded people. I hope you get either your penis cut off or your boob cut off and tossed in a bowl of soup and see how you feel. All of you who tried to explain how hurtful it is to the world I praise you, these other absent minded people need to have a body part cut off of them and feel the pain, we can speak but the animals can’t…grow up and look out for your childrens future!

  13. Diane • September 11, 2011 @ 11:45 PM

    Anna, speak up and educate them, without education we know nothing. google all the shark savers and save shark websites and educate and tell them you don’t want to be part of the murder of the innocent! period!

  14. pang hoi yan • September 12, 2011 @ 12:14 AM

    From Hong Kong – I am Chinese, a real one, not those who look like Chinese but can’t speak and read and write the language. I don’t think that eating shark fin has anything to do with Chinese culture, it is all about status. Traditional Chinese culture does not support it. Confucianism encourages benevolence and to live within your means, it rejected extravagance. Similarly Taoism instructed us to go with the flow of nature and not against it. What does either have to do with eating shark fin?

  15. Diane • September 12, 2011 @ 12:26 AM

    @pang hoi yan, yes it is traditional in your culture, it is in banquets and weddings, they all think it will promote good health, yes they have survived for over 400 million years until now, people like you all think it is ok to kill them so you can eat your soup..well campells makes some good soup too and does not fin sharks, go find one you like and stick to it!…sharks DO die from cancer, they also feel pain and cannot speak. if the sharks go away so does the entire ecosystem…learn the facts before you speak!

  16. Cat • September 12, 2011 @ 12:51 AM

    For those who insist on your fins, there are different types of MOCK fin, some are 100% made from seaweed extract. The texture is like the real thing, I am not talking about taste as shark’s fin has no taste. I know because I am Chinese.
    For those who insist on your fins, watch this video, understand how your demand is destroying habitats & negatively affecting lives of other people.

  17. Steve • September 12, 2011 @ 10:18 AM

    It’s great that Toronto will approve this ban… but I believe it needs to go to a higher level. Say provincially or federally as there are places that will still be able to serve Shark Fin such as a hotel in Niagara Falls.

    I’m an avid scuba diver and had the chance to see a bull shark on a wreck in Florida, these are majestic animals, like the lions of the ocean!! good job Toronto… but much more work is required!!

  18. Penelope • September 12, 2011 @ 11:06 AM

    @ Amy
    There is no reason any human can come up with – cultural rot included – to justify the extinction of Sharks for soup. Absolutely NONE.

    It’s a disgrace for all humans that the practice of finning is continuing today. It saddens my heart that humans are still so backwards, selfish and outwardly aggressive in their endeavour to obtain what they want at any cost.

    Please, wake up humans and save the Sharks.

  19. Trevor • September 12, 2011 @ 4:46 PM

    @ Diane

    Have you even tried shark fin soup yet? If you can eat chicken or beef you can eat some shark. I just hope that I can still get my Foie Gras before that is banned too! Thankfully I live in Vancouver and can eat all I want.

  20. mitch • September 13, 2011 @ 11:32 AM

    Go see movie “Sharkwater.” Eating shark fin soup is NOT part of chinese culture. Started as a myth that people wont get cancer if they eat sfs. Remember Yoa Ming is against people eating sfs.

  21. TheTruth • September 13, 2011 @ 11:52 AM

    @Jim If you’re referring to me, you should learn to read better. It’s not right to fin because it’s a part of culture or society. It’s wrong to try to take it away completely because it is a part of the culture and one’s history.

    @pang hoi yan It has been a part of Chinese history and thus culture for many many moons whether you choose to see it or not. Confucianism is not the way for everyone but practice of belief and way of thinking given as an alternative. Taoism says to go with the flow? Shark fins or not, isn’t adapting to times and technology in order to make a living “going with the flow”?

    @Diane how can you say “people like you all think…” and “learn the facts before you speak” to pang hoi yan, when they have taken the position that the practice of shark fin’ing is wrong? Maybe you should learn to read the facts before you go off in your rants. Oh and yea, Campbell’s soup is so healthy for you with all its 100% processed goodness. While you’re at it why don’t you have your Kraft dinner, hamburger helper, Chunky soup, and hungry man dinners.

  22. TheTruth • September 13, 2011 @ 11:55 AM

    @Mitch you’re not one of those people that believe everything they’ve seen because it was in a film labelled as a “documentary” are you? Yea everyone, Yao Ming is against shark fin’s which means its totally hasn’t been a part of Chinese history for longer than the Americas have been one unified nation!

  23. TheTruth • September 13, 2011 @ 12:01 PM

    To be honest, everyone here should really jump on the bandwagon of saving the peoples of third world countries who are dying everyday from war, hunger, and disease. Our efforts in that arena would have a direct impact on saving the lives of millions of people. That’s why we’re all in here posting about saving sharks right? To save the ecosystem thus saving the people and humanity? Or are we all the type to post what brave courageous people we are by supporting the ban of buying/selling/eating shark fin soup to save everyone, while all the people around the world are still dying…

    Anyone who is confused, as quoted from my first post,

    “1. I do agree that the cruelty of how shark fins are obtained should be stopped. Though, I do not agree with an outright ban.”

  24. Kat • September 13, 2011 @ 1:49 PM

    Asian people need to start finding alternative ingredients for their medicines and food. Using shark fins is rhidiculous also killing tigers for their medicines is causing tigers to go extinct and also they are massively killing dolphins and other large aquatic mammals for their meat that contain mercury in them and that should not even be consumed. What is their problem?? Do they not get it?? They don’t give a shit!

  25. Mick Dowers • September 13, 2011 @ 5:52 PM

    Great work Toronto City Council this provides a great precedent for me to pressure Australian politicians to follow your lead and bring an end to the shark fin industry in our country as well.

    Mick Dowers
    The Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance

  26. Tom • September 15, 2011 @ 12:20 AM

    Amy how did this process stop the process of over whale fishing? Let the government have a chance, just because the Chinese government doesn’t care about whipping an animal off the planet doesn’t mean the world should.

  27. Bruce • September 15, 2011 @ 2:41 AM

    Tradition and culture should not come into the equation where conservation of the planet is concerned. The ramifications of taking the apex predator from the oceans are enormous. If culture had to form part of the argument, foot binding was a tradition in china but that has all but stopped due to many reasons. Preservation of the worlds oceans and one of the oldest animals on the planet seems a pretty good reason not to continue finning and to protect sharks.

  28. Mick Dowers • September 19, 2011 @ 2:54 AM

    @ Amy, Culture is simply NO excuse. It used to be part of the Roman culture to feed christians to lions, slavery used to be part of the Western world’s culture thank God both have been relegated to the history books. Do you advocate the return of these barbaric practices?

    Do you support so called ‘honor’ killings that are part of the culture of some Muslim countries?

    Can you at least see that ‘culture’ is no excuse for cruelty and unsustainable practicces? Shark finning is no different!

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