Family of late filmmaker Rob Stewart backs motion by councillors to ban shark fin sale

A push at city hall aimed at ending the sale of controversial shark fin soup will get some added support Thursday from the family of the late Toronto filmmaker and shark enthusiast Rob Stewart

Stewart drowned in Florida while filming sequel to the documentary Sharkwater

The family of Toronto filmmaker Rob Stewart is supporting a motion by two Toronto city councillors to back a federal Conservative bill aimed at banning shark fins in Canada. (Instagram/teamsharkwater)

A push at city hall aimed at ending the sale of controversial shark fin soup got some added support Thursday.

The father of the late Toronto filmmaker and shark enthusiast Rob Stewart spoke at a news conference called by councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Glenn De Baeremaeker.

Brian Stewart spoke in advance of a motion calling on council to support a federal Conservative bill that targets shark finning. Earlier this month, Conservative Senator Michael McDonald introduced legislation that would make it illegal to import shark fins.

"On Rob's behalf, it's been an extraordinary 90 days since he passed," Stewart said.

"All these countries that Rob visited and he touched are doing exactly the same thing  we're doing here right now: They've banned shark finning."

Scarborough Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker said Wednesday he wants council to back a bill in Ottawa that would ban the sale of shark fins in Canada. (John Rieti/CBC)

Stewart was joined by his wife Sandy and daughter Alexandra at Toronto City Hall as a city council meeting got underway.

De Baeremaeker told CBC News Wednesday that the support from Rob Stewart's family is important because the legislation would honour his work.

"We have to ban shark fin soup from the City of Toronto and every other city in Canada because we are slaughtering tens of millions of sharks every year on the seven seas," De Baeremaeker said.

The dish, considered a delicacy in some Asian communities, has been criticized in the past because it fuels an industry that's been called inhumane. 

Second attempt by councillors

Sharks are caught and killed but only their fins are harvested. 

Stewart drowned in Florida in January while filming a sequel to his 2006 documentary Sharkwater. The film highlighted the shark fin industry and the damage it does to ocean ecosystems.

In 2011, city council — led by De Baeremaeker and Wong-Tam — voted to ban the sale of shark fin soup within city limits. That ban was successfully challenged in court by members of the city's Chinese business community.

A judge later ruled the city had no authority to ban the sale of the soup, because shark fins are legal in Canada.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.