Could Toronto shark fin ban push Ottawa to pass a national law?

John Size
Daily Brew

Toronto could be the next locale where diners will no longer be able to sink their teeth into shark fins, following the lead recently set in California and Mississauga.

The issue of banning the sale and consumption of shark fins will be debated at city council Thursday, but staff is recommending the issue be sent to Ottawa for a more comprehensive national ban on the Asian delicacy.

Mississauga council unanimously banned shark fin products Wednesday, making it the largest city in Canada to institute such a law. Oakville voted in a similar ban in July.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star reports the bill signed last week by the U.S. state's governor is being criticized as discriminatory to Asian culture because it targets only fins instead of the whole fish.

The cause has attracted some top Hollywood and sports celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, who argue the demand for fins is decimating shark populations around the globe killing an estimated 73 million every year.

The fins typically sell for about $600 per pound and are used in shark fin soup, a Chinese wedding delicacy.

Organizations such as Shark Truth are advocating for bans across North America and have targeted Toronto after California passed its legislation. An online petition was started to push Toronto City Council to pass a law.

Vancouver activist Claudia Li, founder of the Canadian Shark Truth organization, believes a city with the size and influence of Toronto could lead to a federal ban.

One Chinese business organization in Toronto supports the ban, but says it should apply to surrounding municipalities to avoid creating an uneven playing field.

The Toronto Chinese Business Association would like to see any such ban also applied to cities such as Markham, Ont.

(Getty Images)