Shark decision shows ‘lack of courage,’ says activist
City council is satisfying a “tiny minority” by not moving to ban shark fins in Richmond, an activist said Monday.
“Richmond’s response reflects a lack of courage,” said Anthony Marr. “They are catering to only one small entity, which is the (B.C. Asian) Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association.”
Marr believes the “vast majority” of Richmond is in favour of a ban, including those in the Chinese community. Scientists say the most endangered sharks have just a few years left before extinction, according to Marr, who also said the well-known hammerhead shark could soon be gone forever.
“Every one of the Richmond city councillors will be held responsible by me anyhow for not taking action if any of these species become extinct.”
For the city to say there’s no way to enforce a bylaw is a “cop out,” he said, noting Richmond holds the power to pull a business licence for violating local government rules.
But Coun. Chak Au said the city has found it doesn’t have the mandate to impose a ban on the sale of shark fin.
In the past, however, Richmond council has imposed its will in areas where senior governments have control—such as in regulating pesticides and stating its opposition toward genetically modified crops. But Au said even advocating for a shark fin ban is not the city’s purview, since the products don’t “have a direct impact in the city.”
“If we pass a bylaw or motion to say we don’t want shark fins to be sold in our city, the problem is there is no direct impact or relevance to the city because this would impact something that happens elsewhere—thousands of miles away from the city,” he said. “It’s difficult for us to do something beyond our authority.”
Au said he’s personally committed to promoting awareness and education for sharks by working with the advocacy group Shark Truth and University of B.C. in developing a sustainable seafood menu for local restaurants, which he’s urging to participate.
“If we are trying to be collaborative, it works better. If we are trying to be antagonistic…we can arouse certain reaction which is counterproductive.”
Although scientists consider many species of sharks endangered or threatened, they are legal to sell in Canada. Only three sharks—listed by the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species—are restricted here.