About 300 people came to Toronto City Hall on Monday to protest a proposed bylaw that would outlaw the possession and sale of shark fins.
Toronto council was initially expected to vote on the shark fin ban on Monday, but the vote has been postponed until Tuesday. The ban, suggested by councillors John Parker, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam, would outlaw the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins or their derivative products.
Shark finning involves hacking off the fins and throwing the still-living sharks back into the water. Groups including Oceana and WildAid say up to 73 million sharks a year are killed, primarily for their fins.
Shark fin soup is a fixture at Chinese wedding banquets and other significant cultural events. Even small grocery stores in Chinatown sell canned shark fin soup.
In a letter to councillors, the Toronto Chinese Business Association urged the city to refer the issue to the federal government, "which has jurisdiction over fishery matters."
The group also issued a statement saying shark fishing is legal in Canada and shark products are "commonly consumed by Canadians." The association called the ban "unfair" and said councillors "are accountable to the city’s resources and should focus on logical and prevalent issues."
This summer, Brantford, Ont., became the first municipality in Canada to make the sale of shark fins illegal, with neighbouring Oakville and Mississauga following suit.