Shark finning is ‘none of our business,’ says Township councillor Grant Ward


The late Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau once remarked that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.

Does local government have any business in the kitchens of its citizens?

After a debate on Monday night, Township council had no appetite for Councillor Charlie Fox’s motion that supports a ban on the sale of shark fins and related products.

A majority defeated a motion asking staff for a report on harmonizing Township’s stand with that of other jurisdictions, and refused to support a motion at this week’s  Union of B.C. Municipalities convention that calls for a province-wide ban.

Activists have focused on Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby, where most Chinese seafood restaurants that use shark fins are located.

“This is none of our business,” Councillor Grant Ward said, adding that a ban “could hurt the fishing industry that is under proper management” all over the world.

“We eat other fish,” he said.

The fins of sharks are virtually tasteless and are used to add texture to soup.

Fox, whose motion called the harvesting of shark fins “both cruel and archaic,” said that there is only one restaurant in Langley that sells the dish.

Councillor Bob Long said noted that many municipalities are working on a “make-sense” bylaw.

Fox grew exasperated over an attempt to refer his motion to staff.

“I read the newspapers,” he said. “I don’t need staff to tell me what is going on with other municipalities.”

Councillor Michelle Sparrow backed Fox.

“Maple Ridge voted unanimously to pass this. It’s not a difficult thing to send a clear message on how we on council stand,” she said.

After the motions were defeated, Fox remarked: “We’ll be known as the shark fin capital of Metro Vancouver.”

See related story on page 17.

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