Toronto shark fin ban passes first hurdle

Members of Toronto's licensing and standards committee have voted unanimously to approve a ban on the sale of shark fins in Canada's largest city.

Toronto is one step closer to banning the consumption of shark fin products — and backing it up with some hefty fines.

The city's licensing and standards committee voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a new bylaw that will outlaw the sale of shark fin, which is used to make the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup. 

The new law would also ban any other use of shark fin and would have fines ranging from $5,000 for a first offence to $100,000 for a third offence.

Councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam have been pushing for the ban to help protect the world's shark population.

De Baeremaeker said he was buoyed when the City of Mississauga's decided one day earlier to impose a similar ban.

Before the vote, Wong-Tam said Toronto's decision could have an effect on other jurisdictions. 

"I would think that it would send a very loud and clear and distinct message that the City of Toronto, the largest metropolis in Canada, is ready to take a leadership role," she said.

Nearby Oakville and Brantford have similar legislation. 

Some critics say imposing a ban in Toronto will not end the problem, since customers who want to eat shark fin soup will just travel to another municipality that doesn't have a ban. 

They argue that the federal government needs to impose a national ban on the importation and consumption of shark fin.

The issue will now go before the full city council for a final decision.