The City of Richmond may wait until a legal challenge is cleared up in Toronto before deciding on whether to ban shark fin products.
City staff — who were tasked by council two months ago to investigate the possibility of a ban — advised councillors Monday that it might be best to hang fire until a judge issues a verdict back East.
A pro-shark fin group from the local Chinese Canadian community, called the Fair and Responsible Governance Alliance, filed a suit against Toronto’s shark fin ban. The case was heard earlier this month and a judgment has still to be made.
Earlier this year, Anthony Marr, of the Vancouver Animal Defense League, asked the City of Richmond to ban shark fin, considered a Chinese delicacy, usually used in soup.
The city agreed to look into a ban, but since then, the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association’s David Chung, who owns the Jade Seafood restaurant in Richmond, has threatened legal action. And he was backed last month by Richmond MP Alice Wong who, in front of a Chinese-only media gathering, sat down to a bowl of shark fin soup, adding that the matter is a federal responsibility and any ban would be culturally insensitive.
City spokesman Ted Townsend told the News said the city is continuing to do its own research and have discussions with the City of Vancouver, which is drafting its own ban.
“Staff is recommending that council wait until the (Toronto) decision has been made,” added Townsend.
Townsend said that a report could be in front of council “fairly quickly” once the Toronto judge has made his decision.
Marr, meanwhile, said that, no matter what happens in Ontario, Richmond should “listen to its people” and forge ahead with a ban.
“The vast majority of Richmondites want to see a ban and the city shouldn’t listen to a minority of people in the restaurant trade,” said Marr.
“If Richmond decides not to ban shark fin products, then it will be out there on its own in isolation as every other city will have a ban.
“The actions of (Alice) Wong and (David) Chung does nothing for the reputation of Chinese Canadians, like myself.”
Scientific research indicates that certain species of shark are endangered due to the illegal practice of “finning,” which involves a shark being caught, finned and thrown back into the sea to die a slow death.
Fins imported into Canada are supposed to be from reputable, not finned, harvesting. But no authority can determine for sure how the shark was caught and, without DNA testing, ascertain what species the fin came from.