A proposed shark fin ban in Toronto has some Chinese businesses around the city grappling with the associated ethical concerns, while at the same time questioning whether a municipal ban alone is a worthwhile initiative.
Toronto councillors John Parker, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam launched a campaign on Monday aimed at banning the sale and consumption of shark fins within the city, citing unethical practices like shark finning, which is illegal in many countries, including Canada.
Shark finning involves hacking off the sharks' fins and throwing their still-living bodies back into the water. Groups like Oceana and WildAid say up to 73 million sharks a year are killed each year, primarily for their fins.
De Baeremaeker said he hopes other regions will follow Toronto's example and such bans will be "replicated across the nation."
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James Ko, the general manager of Casa Imperial Fine Chinese Cuisine, is skeptical of the effectiveness of a city-wide ban on shark fin. His restaurant is known for its dim sum and high-end wedding banquets finished with shark fin soup.
"Unless it's nationwide legislation, I don't see how it can effectively end the illegal shark hunting," he said through a translator.
"Meanwhile, look at the food on our table. Can we guarantee every cow, chicken, pig, fish was not slaughtered inhumanely? Should the killing of these animals be all regulated?"
"If Toronto passes the bylaw, it simply means people will just cross the street to other cities like Markham, for shark fins," said Ko, whose restaurant is located at the southeast corner of Steeles and Warden Avenues, on the northern limit of city of Toronto and just south of Markham.