Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban! »
In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!
The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.
For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.
It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.
"Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.
Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.
[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]
My pal sent me this infograph from Wild Aid—is it old? New? Scary?! It is scary! That’s for sure.
With such a scary infograph, it’s nice that Cali has banned importing and selling shark fins! And a tipster informed me that Mississauga, which is totally somewhere in Canada, banned the possession and sale of shark fins as well. Holler! And wait, is Taiwan banning shark finning now? That would be dope. Save the sharks!
Gordon Ramsay takes on shark-finning again. I don’t know much about celebrity chefs and I’m sure Ramsay is not America’s Next Top Vegan but this video is pretty awesome.
Ramsay is kind of a thug. Most of the video is him with people involved in shark-finning or anti-shark-finning but there is some graphic footage of sharks being killed. Another good thing to note is the video sheds some light on long-line fishing; like Ramsay says, it’s “indiscriminate,” as he pulls up a large sea turtle. At the end, he shows his footage to chefs from several Chinese restaurants in Britain. He gets them to agree to stop selling shark fin soup! That’s nice.
Of course I would love it if Ramsay were vegan and opposed all forms of animal abuse but the fact is that he’s not. But because he’s not, it’s easier for him to preach to the mainstream. Like that Steve Martin movie where someone is like, “you’re a big sinner!” and he’s like, “that’s why you can listen to me!”
Californians: Call to help sharks TODAY! »
From the HSUS website because I’m too lazy to read and paraphrase:
Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year to supply the cruel and wasteful trade in shark fins used for shark fin soup. They’re obtained by cutting the fins off the shark and throwing the animal, often while still alive, back into the ocean to die a slow death.
Sharks are our ocean’s top predators [Ed.: SO COOL/TERRIFYING] and are important for the health of all other marine species and our entire ocean ecosystems.
Fortunately, the California legislature is considering a bill to stop the trade in shark fins — and a vote in the Senate Appropriations committee will occur early next week.
Please make a brief, polite call to your state senator and urge support for A.B. 376. Look up your senators and their phone numbers. You can say, “I am a constituent and urge support for A.B. 376 to prohibit the sale of shark fins in California.”
After making your phone call, fill out this form to reiterate your support for A.B. 376. Be sure to edit your message so it stands out.
So do those two things! Right now! It’s fast and easy and can help save lots of sharks who are the fucking coolest and also the fucking scariest. Remember: STAY OUT OF THE OCEANS. The oceans are for sharks, just like the woods are for bears and serial killers. HUMANS DON’T BELONG THERE.
Here is a cool/terrifying shark to stare at during your call. He’s all, “come at me, bro!” and you’re all, “I just shit my pants.”
Good news for sharks! »
The Bahamas are known not only as the shark-diving capital of the world but also for a local seafood company that had plans to export shark meat and fins to Hong Kong last year. Gross! Luckily, the Bahamas has just banned commercial shark fishing! More than 40 species of sharks can breathe (not really, they have gills) easy now. Pick up a Bahama Mama or pina colada, sharks, and toast to your new protection! I just love the thought of a shark just hanging out, wearing sunglasses and somehow holding a frosty drink in his or her fin, kinda like this:
Over 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea; all threatened by deforestation »
The World Wildlife Fund has released a new study and holy cannoli!: “Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998-2008) [pdf] shows that 218 new kinds of plants, 43 reptiles and 12 mammals, including a unique snub-fin dolphin, 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, 2 birds and 71 fish, among them an extremely rare 2.5m long river shark, have been found on the tropical island over a 10-year period.” I believe the word you are looking for is DANG.
First of all, a river shark? I didn’t know that was a thing! I wish I still didn’t! Man, I’m never going in a river again. I already have alligator nightmares. Now this. And don’t get me started on Hippos. I said don’t get me started! Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a river. I’ve done lakes but the rivers where I come from are more like science experiments from a Simpsons Halloween episode than somewhere you would swim.
The species I’m really excited about are these new dolphins! They’re totes pink! Well, pale pink. Well, look for yourself:
Look at that smile! That’s a “snub nose” he’s sporting. So adorbs.
But guys, you can’t just go finding a zillion new species every day; New Guinea is pretty special. Scientists found new species at two a week during those 10 years, and apparently that is out of control unheard of and prob not something that will ever happen again. And check this out: “The island covers less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s landmass but shelters 6 to 8 percent of the world’s species.” I believe that is also DANG-worthy.
It’s not all fun and finding new species up in New Guinea, though: their environment is in major danger. Thus far, New Guinea’s forests have been pretty lucky—don’t get me wrong, they’ve been significantly effed, just not as much as the rest of the world. It’s like only one-quarter of their forests are destroyed, versus one half. But deforestation is picking up as people clear the rainforest to make more palm oil—I told you that shiz was the devil! Logging is also to blame for a lot of the clearing. But they got other problems too; oddly enough, climate change is causing trouble! That wacky climate change, seems like it’s everywhere. And it’s not just the forests that are threatened, freshwater and marine life are getting screwed from the aforementioned issues as well as mining, which has dumped a lot of pollution into the water. Nature can’t catch a break.
There are reasons to be hopeful, however. Many companies are trying to get certified as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). So let’s keep an eye out for that! I’ll look into it more. Additionally, they have cool “schemes” (they keep saying schemes, that sounds malicious to me!) like this: “Opportunities exist through schemes that offer payment for environmental services. The crucial role of natural forests in the carbon cycle and the world’s climate is generally recognised, and planning is well advanced for schemes such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, which pays developing countries for the carbon they store in their natural forests.” That’s pretty cool, because I don’t think it’s that fair to just be like, “we already destroyed the rest of the world’s environment, so now you can’t destroy yours!” The entire world benefits from a group of people not using their natural resources; maybe the entire world should kick in a little change.
Think of it like this: What if New Guinea had a crazy machine that makes carbon dioxide disappear and what if we could collect all the carbon dioxide we produce and ship it over there to be disposed of for a fee? We would pay them for this service, would we not? We totally would. But since this process happens naturally, New Guinea gets no credit. Let’s pretend the rainforest is a crazy machine! Let’s pay them to keep it running! Sounds good? Sounds good. Pink dolphins for everyone!
[Varanus macraei photo by Lutz Olbegonner; Orcaella heinsohni by Guido J. Parra via WWF]
Guest post: Toronto to ban shark fin soup? »
Shark fin soup bans aren’t just gaining traction on the West coast—this week, Toronto’s city council tabled a motion to ban the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. They’re following the lead of nearby Brantford, which became the first city in North America to ban the soup. This is all pretty great news for sharks.
So why is shark fin soup so bad? Well, it kills 73 million sharks every year, to start, according to Oceana— but what’s really awful is that it kills those sharks in a terribly wasteful way. In “harvesting,” the shark’s fin is cut off while the fish is still alive. The shark then gets thrown back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten by another creature. No other part of the shark even gets used. And shark species are increasingly threatened; when a top animal on the food chain starts to disappear, it’s bad news for an ecosystem.
Traditionally in Chinese culture, shark fin soup is seen as a sign of prosperity—serving it to your guests during important occasions like weddings is expected by many people, especially older generations. That’s made it harder to get bans in place, but things are changing: aside from in Brantford, the soup’s been banned in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and California may be next. Some argue that the ban targets Chinese people unfairly, since many other favorite animal foods are raised or killed in nasty ways; they have a good point there, so maybe we should do something about that too!
Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker compared the killing of sharks for their fins to use in soup to hunting elephants just for their ivory tusks. “Playing the piano in the city of Toronto actually led to elephants being slaughtered in Africa. We’re learning now that simply going to a restaurant and eating shark fin soup is leading to a slaughter in the oceans and we want to have that stopped,” De Baeremaeker said.
Toronto has a large Chinese population, so the move is sure to receive some opposition. In its current form, the ban would come in gradually so restaurants can go through their existing stock for the soup—that way they can’t claim that they’ll be losing too much money on shark fins they’ve already purchased.
Moreover, the motion has the vote of another councillor, Kristen Wong-Tam, a former president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto—her support for this ban will hopefully go a long way within the Chinese community. Wong-Tam grew up eating shark fin soup for special occasions, but stopped once she learned what’s really behind it. “We are not going to bring up a fish—a shark that’s 150 pounds—from the ocean, cut off the fins and throw the rest of it back” to sink and die,” she said. “Because we found this out, mom and dad and my sisters and I just decided, the soup no longer had taste. It was no longer something we desired. Oftentimes at banquets we’ve actually refused it.”
See? When you educate people, they can change their minds, even older generations who have been eating the soup for years. The director of Sharkwater, Toronto native Rob Stewart, also favors the ban. If a coming report on shark fin soup is approved, the city will vote on the ban in the fall. Write to Toronto’s city councillors to tell them how awesome they’ll look to the world if they make this move.
Terri lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues
Guest Post: Help ban importation and distribution of shark fins in California! »
As a volunteer and activist for Sea Stewards, I was thrilled to attend the official press release for AB 376 at the California Academy of Sciences. What’s AB 376 is and why do you care? It is the California Shark Protection Act, which would stop the importation and distribution of shark fins throughout the state. The time is now California! Hawaii already passed a similar ban and other states are starting to move towards a ban.
First I want to commend and thank Assemblymembers Paul Fong and Jared Huffman for backing this bill. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Senator (and mayoral candidate) Leland Yee of San Francisco came out swinging against it, calling the bill an attack on cultural heritage.
I call bullshit, Mr. Yee. I find it disgusting that we are even having this debate. This movement has the support of many Chinese people, including celebrity Yao Ming and Master Chef Martin Yan, and of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. These people and groups realize sustainability is more important than a bowl of soup. They want their heritage to be saving this species, not damning it to extinction.
Finning a shark alive is torture. Once the fins are removed the shark is thrown back into the ocean and sinks to the bottom, where it either bleeds to death or drowns because it can no longer swim. Because the entire body of the shark is not brought on board the fishing vessels can load their boat up with fins, which can fetch up to a $1,000 apiece (what I hear is the going rate for a whale shark fin).
Sharks play a vital role in the ocean. They are the tigers of the sea, and when you take the apex predator out the whole ecosystem collapses. They are being fished at an alarming rate. About 100 million are killed annually and about a third of the species are now threatened. In the last 15 years, species have declined by 50 percent. This has to stop. Either take it off the menus now or be forced to when there are no sharks left.
So what can you do to help? Please call or write your district representatives and ask for their support on AB 376. If you’re Asian American, you can also join the group Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. Please check out Sea Stewards and Wild Aid for more info, and attend the Ocean Lovers Film Festival! [Ed.: And check out previous shark coverage on Vegansaurus! Because sharks are fucking rad and we love them.]
Shark fin soup is bad news! Here’s how you can help! »
Poor sharks! They are being hunted and killed for their fins to make shark fin soup. SF Appeal had a great piece about the issue last week and I learned so much! The soup is a traditional dish in many Asian countries served at special occasions. It’s supposed to show how much of a baller you are because it costs up to $100 a bowl. LAME! SFAppeal and other sources are blaming the shark’s bad rep for the indifference to the fact that 70 million sharks are killed annually and 30 percent of shark species are threatened with extinction. Seventy million? Goddamn. Many times, because people don’t want shark meat, their fins are cut off while the sharks are still alive and then they are just dropped back into the ocean to die. OUCH! You can see just how awful it is on YouTube but I won’t assault you here.
Sea Shepherd (everyone’s favorite vigilantes) has a campaign against shark-finning, part of which is changing your perspective on sharks:
Myth: Sharks are bloodthirsty man-eaters and ruthless killing machines.
Reality: More people are killed each year by falling vending machines than by sharks.
San Francisco has a lot going on with regards to shark-finning. Wild Aid, which seems pretty awesome, has its headquarters in SF. Check out their volunteer opportunities. San Francisco-based journalist Erica Gies is also involved with Wild Aid; read about her efforts on spot.us—a very interesting site on its own I might add. You can also read her interview with shark-activist and Goldman Environmental Prize-winner Randell Arauz. Sea Stewards has an initiative called The Shark Sanctuary that is devoted to better understanding and conservation of sharks in the Bay Area. You can sign their petition to the city to ban shark fins and shark fin products in SF. Hawaii actually became the first place to ban shark fin soup earlier this year; maybe San Francisco could be next?!
On a national level, here’s a list of restaurants to avoid because they serve shark fin soup. New York and San Francisco totally stand out with the most restaurants listed. L.A. and Las Vegas do pretty well, too. Stopsharkfinning.net has a list of other ways you can help. You can also donate money to the Sea Shepherd for their shark conservation work. Read Oceana’s report on the international fin trade here.