Ban Shark Fins in Edmonton
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Purpose Statement: We are seeking to propose a new bylaw in Edmonton that will ban the sale, import, trade, possession, and distribution of all shark fin products within the City of Edmonton.
Shark finning is a cruel form of harvest that involves the removal of the dorsal fin or all fins from the shark. The shark, which is often still alive, is then disposed of by throwing it back into the ocean, where the shark will drown as it is unable to swim. An estimated 75 million sharks are killed this way every year.
Sharks are a vital part of ocean ecosystems. Without sharks, ocean food webs face cascading effects of issues that will threaten the health of our oceans. Three billion people on Earth currently depend on fish as a staple food source, and without sharks we will face huge problems for global food security.
Without even considering food web effects, sharks are still far more valuable to humans alive. In the small island nation of Palau for example, killing 100 sharks and harvesting their fins generates $241,281 for the local populace, but a single alive shark can generate $1.6 million in its lifetime from the tourism industry. These ecotourism dollars provide revenue sources for the developing nations that are the primary harvesters of shark fins, and may help these developing nations move out of poverty.
Shark fins have a great cultural significance to many Asian cultures. Shark fin soup is symbol of honor, wealth and prosperity, and is often used to celebrate events such as weddings and birthdays. We do not want to impact these cultural values. Therefore, we propose that to uphold the same cultural values that imitation shark fin should be used in place of the real thing. Imitation shark fin is indistinguishable from the real thing in terms of texture and flavor. Additionally, imitation shark fin is far cheaper than the real thing and does not have the toxins, such as mercury, that accumulate in real shark fins.
As Edmontonians, we can set an example for the rest of Canada and the world to eliminate a practice that has immense ramifications for marine ecology, global food security, poverty, and animal rights. By gathering 90,000 signatures from Edmontonians we can remove the demand for shark fins from our city.
Authors: William Betts, Kianna Gallagher, Shyla Golly, Jesse Shirton and Mark Veenstra. 2017. Fisheries and Wildlife Management. University of Alberta. Edmonton.
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