Surrey is the next city in the crosshairs of activists who want to ban shark fin soup from all of Metro Vancouver’s Chinese restaurants to reduce fishing pressure on threatened sharks.
Vancouver Animal Defence League spokesman Anthony Marr said his group will address council in Surrey on Monday and in Langley City on Sept. 17, while Maple Ridge’s council is expected to discuss the issue Sept. 11 ahead of a presentation at a later date.
Activists have focused on Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby – home to most Chinese seafood restaurants that use shark fin – and Marr said he believes those councils are close to agreeing on a coordinated ban to take effect in six months.
A simultaneous regional ban would ensure shark-serving restaurants and the clientele that want them don’t just shift to unregulated cities, he said.
“My prediction is it’s going to work,” Marr said. “The municipalities are just coming on board one after another.”
He said Surrey, Langley and Maple Ridge all invited him to make presentations – Marr didn’t approach them – so he’s optimistic those cities will also enact bans.
Surrey has a “fairly significant” Chinese population and has Chinese seafood restaurants that serve shark fin, he said.
Coquitlam, Port Moody and North Vancouver City are among the Metro councils that have previously committed to ban shark fin sales in their cities, enforced with either fines or revocation of business licences.
Richmond is a key battleground and Chinese restaurant owners there have resisted a ban.
Activists last month confronted one outlet demanding fin samples to test to determine if the fins came from endangered shark species. The owner refused to cooperate.
“Richmond is the sticky one because of the over 50 per cent Chinese population there,” Marr said, but he characterized opponents of a ban as a small minority and said younger Chinese back reform.
Activists claim 100 million sharks a year are dying for the fin trade and perhaps a third of them may be endangered.
David Chung, president of the the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association and owner of a Richmond restaurant that sells shark fin, has said he would only comply with a federal ban, if Ottawa can justify a halt to the trade.
Marr isn’t just relying on the council-by-council approach in the Lower Mainland.
He has also asked all B.C. cities to support a shark fin ban resolution that is to be voted on at the end of this month at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.
“We’ve heard back from quite a few of them and they are all in support of this ban,” he said, adding a successful resolution would put pressure on the province to ban shark fin sales across B.C.
Ban advocates say slow-to-reproduce sharks could be wiped out by the fin trade and the loss of the apex predator would play havoc with the food chain, destabilizing other fisheries.