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Shark Truth rewards couple for going ‘fin free’

Jackson Wan and Amy Li accept their vacation prize for declaring their wedding shark-fin-free. - Shark Truth photo
Jackson Wan and Amy Li accept their vacation prize for declaring their wedding shark-fin-free.
— image credit: Shark Truth photo

Shark defenders gathered Wednesday to award a newlywed couple a week-long trip to the Galapagos for going “fin free” at their wedding reception.

Amy Li and Jackson Wan were one of 80 couples who avoided shark fin soup on their banquet menus this year and entered the third annual Happy Hearts Love Sharks contest offered by Shark Truth, a group dedicated to promoting awareness and education for shark conservation.

“We thought it was the right thing to do. Many of the shark species are in danger of extinction. In order to save them, we have to keep them alive,” said Wan.

Animal rights activists contend sharks are harvested inhumanely and threaten species with extinction. And last month, civic politicians directed staff to investigate a possible ban on shark fins in Richmond.

Shark Truth’s focus is on lifestyle change, not legislative change, and executive director Claudia Li said she’s witnessing shark fin becoming taboo.

“This isn’t three years ago,” she said. “Everyone knows about shark fin now.”

Li’s group is working to convince restaurants to remove shark fin soup from menus, and to think more about sustainability by signing on to Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise conservation program.

But B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association president David Chung isn’t convinced. He told The Richmond Review last month that eating shark fin soup is a right and a tradition restaurateurs don’t want to break. Chung also suggested shark finning balances the food system by keeping predatory shark populations in check.

And in at least one area of the world, shark attacks are growing. As early as next week, government officials in France are expected to begin offering cash rewards to fishermen who kill bull sharks in the waters off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, France.

A dramatic rise in deadly attacks—seven since the start of 2011—is pushing politicians to take action against the large, aggressive species.

Nonetheless, 26 to 73 million sharks are killed each year to feed the demand for shark fin, according to University of B.C. researchers, who recently examined legislation used in some countries aimed at curtailing the practice of shark finning: removing fins and throwing shark bodies overboard.

Daniel Pauly co-authored the study and said “it’s embarrassing” how little has been done to protect sharks, noting just 59 countries in the world have legislation related to sharks, and much of it doesn’t go far enough.

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