Langley Township backs shark fin ban

After first rejecting a call for a ban on shark fins, Langley Township council has changed its mind.

Graphic details about how the fins of sharks are harvested appear to have been enough to convince Township council to reverse its decision to ban the sale of the fish delicacy.

Last month, council turned down a proposal from Councillor Charlie Fox calling for a report on harmonizing the Township’s stand with that of other jurisdictions that ban shark fins and related products.

On Monday, after hearing from Anthony Marr, spokesman for the Vancouver Island Animal Defense League, council voted 8-1 to back Fox’s motion.

Marr said that after their fins are cut, the sharks, still living, are tossed back into the sea.

Though tasteless, shark fins are highly prized for their texture.

They fetch significantly more on the market than meat from the rest of the fish.

Meat is about 70 cents a pound, and the fins about $700 per pound, Marr said.

Not only is shark finning cruel, at the rate it is proceeding it is endangering the species, he said. Of 450 species, one-third are endangered.

He noted too, that sharks are extremely slow to reproduce. While most fish spawn thousands of eggs a year, sharks give birth to only two to four pups every two to four years.

“If we delay, even for one year, we will lose 100 million sharks,” Marr said.

“It is totally unsustainable,” Marr told council.

Langley has two restaurants that serve shark fin soup, he said.

The motion supporting a ban passed with only Councillor Grant Ward opposed.

Two weeks ago, he remarked that “This is none of our business.”

Ward added that a ban “could hurt the fishing industry that is under proper management” all over the world.

Marr, however, indicated that continuing killing sharks for their fins will do more than that.

In a later comment, he noted that if sharks are wiped out, medium size fish on which they now prey would proliferate, over-prey on small fish “and the entire oceanic ecosystem could collapse.”

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