Prohibit the Sale & Trade of Shark Fin in Delta, BC.

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To the residents of Delta, British Columbia, and anyone else who may read this,

Are you aware that although shark finning was made illegal in Canada in 1994, our country is currently the second largest importer of shark fins and shark fin products in the world following Asia? Are you aware that the following municipalities in BC already have bylaws in place to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fin: Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Abbotsford, and Port Moody?

Lastly, are you aware that the import, possession, sale, and distribution of shark fin and shark fin products is completely legal in Delta, British Columbia?

The shark fin trade is both a national and global epidemic, and is still completely legal in our own backyard. Currently there are 141 threatened or near threatened shark species in the world and of those 141 species only 3 of them are protected by Canadian federal laws. Although in 2013 the Delta Council set a clear position against the import and sale of shark fin we are still supporting the killing of endangered sharks in our oceans by not having a bylaw in place to properly prohibit these sales.

My plan is to have a bylaw put in place here in Delta to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fin, but first let me start with the basics:

What is shark finning?

Shark finning is the removal and retention of shark fins once the shark has been fished from the ocean, usually caught using an inhumane method. Once the fins have been sliced from the body, the carcass is discarded back into the water, often while the shark is still alive. Sharks receive oxygen as water passes through their gills. Therefore a shark must be moving forwards in order to breathe. Since they are lacking fins when they are thrown back, they have no means of forward propulsion and therefore water is not passing through their gills to deliver oxygen. In simple terms they are thrown back into the ocean to suffocate, or to slowly bleed out. Whichever happens first.

Why do we need sharks?

Sharks are more vital to our marine ecosystems than you may think. They actively maintain the species below them which indirectly maintains the sea grass and coral reef habitats. Without sharks to prey on large fish (such as groupers) the populations of these fish will sky rocket and in turn they will over-prey on the smaller fish. The smaller fish are extremely important in ensuring the survival of the reefs as well as the entire oceanic ecosystem. It has also been found that all of this can result in reduced numbers of phytoplankton which produce more than HALF of the world’s oxygen. Without sharks, this system will collapse and humans will be greatly affected by it.

But aren’t they horrible killing machines? Why should we care? 

No, they are not, and you should care because of what is stated in the paragraph above. On average humans kill 100 million sharks per year. Each year an average of 5-7 people are killed by sharks, according to National Geographic you have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime. Maybe its time we start taking that flu shot a little more seriously, and stop killing millions of endangered sharks! 

A few other shark facts for you:

• Shark meat has one of the highest levels of mercury of all consumable fish. Mercury can also build up in the human blood stream and is extremely unsafe to ingest.
• In the last 15 years shark populations have decreased by 60-90% due to the shark fin trade.
• In 2012 DNA testing on samples taken from 59 specimens of shark fin sold in the Vancouver area revealed that 76% of the fins were from species that are listed as threatened or endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

In 2012 when this issue was originally brought to council there was a survey of local Asian restaurants completed in Delta and it was found that shark fin soup was not listed on any menu. Go Delta! 
However, due to the fact that many of our surrounding municipalities have already put a bylaw in place to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fin, it will only be a matter of time before Delta is one of the last places allowed to sell it, and therefore it will begin to be offered. When the final report of the case from 2012 was released it was stated that a ban may be symbolic as it will not be able to be enforced but:
“A ban by bylaw could be enforceable through Delta's successful bylaw adjudication system or the court system, but carries the potential of being challenged by the business community.” 

Full report can be read here:

In this case if shark fin is not currently being sold in Delta then there should be no challenges on this matter from the local business community. Further more, the local businesses should not have the final say in the matter. There are endangered sharks being slaughtered daily and our oceanic ecosystem is on the verge of collapse because of it. This is more important than the potential challenges from local businesses. At this time I have also begun surveying local businesses on this matter and so far 100% of the businesses I have spoken to support a bylaw being put in place. 

Although there may not be any current sales of shark fin in Delta (that we are aware of), this bylaw will prohibit any potential sale or trade of shark fin in the future in our city. It is much easier to prevent a problem from occurring then to deal with it once it is already taking place. It will also show the provincial and federal governments that we do not support the import and sale of shark fin and we can hopefully begin to tackle this problem on a national level.

To conclude: 
My plan is to address the City of Delta about having a bylaw put in place to make the import, possession, sale, and distribution of shark fin and shark fin products illegal in Delta, British Columbia (and succeed). Although Delta is just a small contributor to a massive international problem, it is still just as important that we play our part in protecting these threatened species at a local level. If all of our local municipalities enforce this ban, together we can approach both the provincial and federal governments as a united front to stop the import of shark fins, as well as help to save our world’s oceans. 

This is something that I may be starting on my own, but it is not something I can finish on my own. I need ALL of your support, whether you’re from Delta or not, whether you’re from Canada, Australia, or anywhere else in the world. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION. SHARE IT. TELL YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILIES, DOGS, EVERYONE. 

Kendra Luckow
Delta, British Columbia

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