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Vancouver councillor to bring shark fins to city hall in campaign to ban their sale


Kerry Jang says he’ll use a couple props from his mother’s closet today to kick off his campaign to ban the sale and trade of shark fins in much of the Lower Mainland and to show the ban isn’t an effort to demonize anyone.

He said in an interview he dug two aging, dried shark fins out of his mother’s house and will take them to city hall to illustrate the traditional and ethical bridge that needs to be crossed in the growing debate over the Asian delicacy.

Jang plans to introduce a motion at Vancouver city council Tuesday that calls on the cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond to join forces to develop a regional shark-fin ban.

“A lot of people here (in Vancouver) already own shark fin. They got it through purely innocent means as a wedding gift or something like that,” he said.

“We’re not saying to people if you possess it, you’re evil and bad. . .We’re just saying it’s the future sales and trade. There are other alternatives.”

Jang said he doesn’t want to use his mother’s shark fins as symbols of the anti-animal cruelty fight that’s behind what is becoming a worldwide campaign to outlaw shark-fin use. Instead, he said they are illustrative of a possible future that doesn’t involve the slaughter of sharks for their fins.

“It’s a worldwide movement,” said Jang. “People can squawk all they like, but it’s just happening because everybody recognizes that it’s an ethical issue. It’s not a traditional issue. It’s not a racial or traditional issue. It’s an ethical issue. You just can’t wipe out a species.”

He said the possession and use of shark fins in the Chinese-Canadian community have a long-standing traditional hold on many people, but times are changing and the future of one of the world’s most important species is at stake.

Jang said his mother got the fins almost 60 years ago, probably from her own mother, as a gift.

Jang said he’ll be in Victoria next week at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention to support a motion that seeks a provincewide ban on the possession, sale and distribution of shark fin.

International animal rights groups estimate that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year, mostly for their fins. The groups say sharks are dumped back into the world’s oceans after their fins are cut off, leaving them to die slow and painful deaths.

Jang said his motion, which requires the support of Vancouver council, will ask city staff to formally work with Burnaby and Richmond to ban the sale and trade of shark fin.

Coquitlam, Port Moody, North Vancouver City and Maple Ridge already support shark fin sales bans in their cities.

Six cities in Ontario have shark fin bans, including Toronto, and the states of Washington, California, Oregon, Illinois and Hawaii also ban shark fins.

Some Vancouver area business associations representing Asian restaurants say they do not support a shark fin ban.

North Vancouver City Coun. Craig Keating said UBCM delegates who represent the province’s cities, towns and villages will be asked to support a provincewide shark fin ban that says “shark fin harvesting is an inhumane and wasteful practice serving a very narrow and sometimes criminal marketplace.”

Keating said he was convinced the shark-fin market threatens the survival of the shark species and impacts the future of other species.

The UBCM motion also calls on the federal government to ban the import of shark fins into Canada.

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