The City of New Westminster has banned the sale or trade of shark fins by local businesses.
In a unanimous vote on December 10, city council decided to adopt a bylaw prohibiting the controversial practice.
A motion about the bylaw presented to council describes the sale and trade of shark fins to be “noxious and offensive business activities”.
The motion says the goal of the ban is “protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of the City of New Westminster”.
Those who contravene the ban could face a fine of up to $10,000.
“We believe that it’s a very, very cruel form of harvesting a product just for the simple use of the animal’s fin and it deserves to be addressed locally,” Coun. Chuck Puchmayr told the Straight by phone today (December 11).
The move by New Westminster city council comes amid a debate in the region over shark fin soup, a popular Chinese dish served in some local restaurants.
While some consider the soup to be a delicacy and culturally important, others argue its popularity is putting shark populations at risk.
Puchmayr said he was aware of only one restaurant in New Westminster that had been serving shark fin products. He said they did not oppose the ban.
“It’s a powerful statement but it’s from a very small catchment area,” Puchmayr said of the new bylaw. “We’re 60,000 people, but we’re saying that in our city we support a ban on shark fins,” he said.
“We’ll see if it [the ban] ever gets challenged or if people will just respect the fact that council supports this bylaw and understand the reasons behind why we went forward with it.”