City proceeds with its shark fin ban

Although Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond won’t be considering bylaws to restrict the sale of shark fin products until 2013, New Westminster is proceeding with its proposed ban.

On Tuesday, council approved first and second reading of the bylaw and will hold a public hearing on the issue Monday, Dec. 3.

“It’s the right direction for cities to be going. Ultimately it’s something the higher levels of government have to take a stance on,” said Coun. Jonathan Coté. “Until that’s the case local governments making those bans are a place to start.”

He said he is comfortable moving forward with the bylaw because from an environmental and animal rights perspective it has been shown the practice of cutting off shark fins for soup is detrimental to sharks and their environment.

A staff report said a survey of Asian restaurants in New Westminster determined only one establishment is serving food items containing shark fins.

The Kirin Starlight, part of a chain of upscale Asian restaurants in the Lower Mainland, located at the casino in Queensborough, has several items containing shark fins on its menu.

“The management of this restaurant advises banning shark fin products would not have a major impact on the business,” said the report.

A call to Kirin’s head office in Vancouver was not returned before the NewsLeader’s deadline.

The report advised council a bylaw adopted by the City of Toronto is being challenged in court, and if it is quashed New Westminster might have to review its bylaw. It was also noted a number of municipalities in B.C. and Canada have already implemented bylaws, as well as in the United States.

New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody NDP MP Fin Donnelly introduced a federal private member’s bill proposing to ban the importation of shark fin products into Canada last year. A vote is expected later this year or early in 2013.

Staff also contacted Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond and were advised their city councils won’t be considering bans until sometime in 2013.

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