Reasons, Not Emotions, Should Be Used in Shark Fin Vote
As part of TCBA's campaign to counter the misinformation and misconceptions about the shark fin trade, emails were sent to Toronto City Councillors, outlining facts and figures, in hopes that they would learn more about the industry, and vote through facts and not emotions. Please click "Read More" to view "Reasons, Not Emotions, Should Be Used in Shark Fin Vote"
Reasons, Not Emotions, Should Be Used in Shark Fin Vote
As the Toronto City Council is preparing to vote on a proposed bylaw that will ban the possession, distribution, and consumption of shark fin in the city, the Toronto Chinese Business Association (TCBA) is asking all councillors to think the issue through before voting on a piece of legislation based on emotions instead of information.
Before highlighting the support for the TCBA’s position against the proposed legislation, it is important to recognize that, collectively as responsible corporate citizens in the city, the TCBA and its members are against inhumane treatment of animals and are for the sustainability of the environment. It is also important to accept that, individually as Canadian citizens in this country, opponents of the proposed ban have a right to speak the truth about the shark fin issue especially when this right is being trampled upon through misinformed attacks and intentional neglect by some in the media and City Hall.
That being said, the TCBA and its members are against the proposed ban:
As outlined in the points above and as contained in our submissions to the Licensing Committee meetings, there are many reasons that the proposed by-law is unfounded and unreasonable. The TCBA and its members have made these points clear to the Council and it is now time for Councillors to take their responsibility seriously and consider these points carefully and calmly.
- Shark fishing is legal in Canada. People can buy, possess, sell, distribute and consume shark meat legally in the country. The skin and bones of the shark are being used to make cosmetic and health products. Each shark has meat, skin, bones and fin. Then why should shark fin be banned in the city when everyone everywhere in the country, including Toronto, can consume other shark products from the same fish? In light of this, is this ban really environmental or is it emotional?
- The proposed shark fin ban in City of Toronto will clearly promote waste of the fins taken in meat fisheries of dog fish and blue sharks that are harvested by Canadian fishermen. It is because fins will need to be discarded. Is this outcome of creating waste environmental or is it emotional?
- The proposed bylaw appears to be an attempt to outdo an earlier one passed in Mississauga. However unfounded its predecessor is for the same reasons mentioned above, Toronto’s proposal is more unreasonable than the one it is modelled after by allowing businesses less than one year, until September 1, 2012, to clear their inventories. In Mississauga, inventories that existed prior to the enactment of the shark fin ban were exempted, which helped businesses to avoid unnecessary financial losses, especially in light of the fact that contracts with shark fin suppliers and lease agreements with landlords, like the city’s contracts with vendors, cannot be revoked with a short notice. Then why is Toronto rushing to eliminate shark fins that have been legally obtained by legitimate, tax-paying, employment-generating businesses? Is this rush environmental or emotional?
- The penalties proposed in this later, Toronto version are also unreasonably high. The fine for first-time offenders is $5,000, five times as high as the minimal penalty for cocaine possession in Canada. Subsequent offences would yield fines from $25,000 to $100,000. When people can buy, sell and eat shark meat legally in Toronto, why should legitimate Chinese restaurants and retailers that sell shark fins be considered worse than a drug dealer? Are the penalties proposed environmental or emotional?
- Any law that is with substance and not for political posturing should be enforceable in a cost-effective manner. Who will go to restaurants, warehouses, retail stores, and even private homes to investigate if the by-law has been violated? Police officers? By-law officers? Health inspectors? Or a new unit designated as the “shark czar”? In light of the tight financial situation the City is in now and in the foreseeable future, is it wise to spend valuable resources to attack a nationally legal business practice that is generating revenues to the city all because of misinformation or wilful ignorance? And would that be a display of excessive use of power if the city did enter a private home to remove shark fins residents legally purchased in other municipalities or before the passing of the by-law? Is the enforcement environmental or emotional?
- In a comparable situation, ivory products have been banned in this country for a long time. How come there is no pressure for private and business owners of merchandise or gifts with ivory content such as pianos to surrender these possessions and there is no action against these owners? Moreover, some species of tigers are also endangered. Why are people allowed to display a tiger’s head in their house without fear of punishment? In this sense, why does this by-law single the shark fin out as a forbidden product starting Sept. 1, 2012? Is this focus on the shark fin environmental or emotional?
- If the City Council has to follow another municipality’s lead, it can look at Markham’s example. The Council there has wisely deferred the shark fin issue to the federal government, which has jurisdiction over fishery matters and has been vigilant in ensuring truly endangered species in the sea, on land and in the air are being protected. Perhaps Council can follow suit to urge the federal government to continue its excellent work in this regard. In fact, Council can also take the lead to push for stricter legislations and stronger enforcement on other truly environmental and animal cruelty matters such as foie gras factory farms – this inhumane farming practice is actually happening in the City of Toronto.
Members of the Toronto Chinese Business Association