A Superior Court judge has overturned Toronto’s shark fin ban — but the City of Richmond may wait until the New Year before deciding on its own anti-shark fin bylaw.
The ban on the sale, possession or consumption of shark fins and shark-fin food products in Toronto — which was passed in the fall of 2011 — was declared on Friday as null and void by Ontario Superior Court’s Justice James Spence.
Spence ruled in favour of a legal challenge to the ban brought forward by four members of the Chinese business community, which argued their cultural rights were infringed by the bylaw.
The judge stated the city had acted outside of its powers and the bylaw had “no force and effect.”
Spence went on to warn other cities against passing similar laws.
Richmond, which along with Vancouver is considering a ban on the sale of shark fin products, said previously it would wait until after the Ontario decision before bringing a report to council.
However, city spokesman Ted Townsend said staff will need time to review the court’s decision and, with the holidays fast approaching, it may be the New Year before the report sees the light of day.
A number of Metro Vancouver cities have already banned shark fin products — albeit in areas where the Chinese community is very small.
Shark fin products and especially shark fin soup are considered an expensive delicacy in Chinese culture.
However, global conservation groups, backed by reputable scientific evidence, argue that millions of sharks are being “finned” into extinction. Finning involves a shark being caught, having its fin sliced off and tossed back into the ocean to bleed to death.
Richmond MP Alice Wong, who sat down to a bowl of the soup in front of Chinese only media in October, claimed the federal regulations controlling the importation of shark fin products are strong enough to protect the species.