A fresh lobby to ban the sale of shark fins in Richmond is likely to hit city hall before the end of the year.
Anthony Marr, of the Vancouver Animal Defense League, plans to present to city council new DNA evidence that points to fins from threatened and endangered shark species being sold in Richmond and Vancouver stores.
Members of the league, along with undercover CTV investigators, bought 59 dried shark fins in the stores and sent them to a lab at the University of Guelph for DNA testing.
Out of the samples, 76 per cent matched sharks that are threatened or endangered under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list, including two species of hammerhead.
However, selling the fins isn’t illegal in Canada because the government goes by products listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Only three species of shark fall into that category: Great white, basking and whale sharks.
“This changes things in a big way, you can’t dispute the evidence now,” said Marr.
“This is the most damning data to date in North America, not just Canada.
“We intend to take this information to all levels of government in this area and beyond.”
Knowing that City of Richmond staff are expected to present a report early in the New Year on a potential ban, Marr said he intends to appeal once more to city council before the year is out.
“(The City of) Vancouver has already taken note of the investigation results, Richmond must to do the same,” added Marr.
“This is solid information, we’re no longer talking about the possibility of the fins coming from threatened species, this is now the truth.”
New Westminster NDP MP Fin Donnelly, who has a private member’s bill on banning the fin sale scheduled for a second reading next year, told CTV the investigation results re-enforce the need for a total ban on the sale of shark fins in the country.
David Chung, owner of the Jade Seafood Restaurant in Richmond and of the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Café Owners’ Association, has consistently defended the sale of the fins for shark fin soup, a traditional delicacy in Chinese culture.
He has also dismissed the IUCN list of endangered species, adding that his stance is about a right to choose what to eat. He has been publicly backed by Richmond MP Alice Wong.
A Superior Court judge earlier this week overturned Toronto’s shark fin ban on the sale, possession or consumption of shark fins and shark-fin food products.
The judge ruled in favour of a legal challenge to the ban brought forward by four members of the Chinese business community in the city, 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.”