EDITORIAL: Shark fin laws a federal issue

Municipal laws simply have no teeth when it comes to the act of finning sharks.

There is no doubt that the act of finning sharks for the purpose of creating culinary delicacies, or any other derivative, is unacceptable if not disgusting.

Around the world, an estimated 70 million to 100 million sharks are caught annually, de-finned and returned to the ocean to suffer a horrible death.

What’s more, the sheer volume of destroying these apex predators will result in the endangerment of many species as well as throw the ecology of the ocean off.

Slowly, municipality by municipality, possession or retailing of shark fins is being banned.

Nanaimo made steps to impose a bylaw Monday night to do just that.

But is this really an issue for municipalities to tackle? Probably not.

While dealing with the issue at the municipal level will likely create awareness, under B.C.’s Local Government Act the most severe punishment that can be imposed is the termination of a business licence.

If there is a growing distaste for shark fin products in the public realm, this issue needs to be addressed through federal law.

Our municipal laws simply have no teeth.

Under Canada’s Fisheries Act, finning sharks is illegal in Canadian waters, so it doesn’t make sense to allow an import that is illegal here to arrive on our shores.

One third of all shark species are considered endangered, so it’s safe to assume shark fins being sold are those of endangered shark species, as there is no way to track fins and from which species they came from.

If there is to be any pressure on the leading producers of shark fins like China, Costa Rica, Spain and Japan, punishment must come through international channels, not municipalities.

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