Thursday, October 20, 2011

Toronto fin ban - aiming for a K.O. in the T.O.

Earlier this month, with Governor Jerry Brown's signature, California enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 376 banning the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins. In so doing, California became the fourth and largest state in the U.S. to enact a legislative ban on shark fins.

While we're celebrating the victory for sharks here in California, we're also supporting the effort in Canada's largest city – Toronto.

After a disappointing and discouraging report from Toronto's Municipal Licensing and Standards Division, I decided to attend the next City Council Licensing and Standards Committee meeting where they would be reviewing and considering the implication of that flawed report.

To that meeting last Thursday (13 October), I brought several perspectives, including that of someone who grew up with shark fin soup, and that of someone intimately involved in the legislative processes of several States "south of the border", as they put it. We saw a number of similarities between the shark fin ban in California, and the one proposed for the City of Toronto.

    Christopher Chin and esteemed municipal attorney Geoge Rust-D'Eye
before the City Council's Licensing and Standards Committee
(photo: Laura Bombier)

COARE's Executive Director offering testimony/deputation in support of shark fin ban
(photo: Florentine Leloup, ©2011 Vision'R)

Since there were so many speakers/deputants interested in addressing the committee, speaking times were limited to three minutes. However, because of the great interest in my perspective and COARE's experience in the western U.S., many of the committee members and guest Councillors posed questions. All in all, my three minutes turned into well over twenty – much more than any other speaker enjoyed.

mredia statements following deputation
(photo: Laura Bombier)

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to continue the process and recommend the ban to the full City Council. We are extremely pleased by the strong message that this vote sends.

The City Council will consider this issue this Monday, 24 October 2011. While we are optimistic that this will see favor in the full Council (especially in light of such a strong committee recommendation), it's still important that we reach out to the Mayor and Council members to encourage them to support the measure as well.

If you live in the GTA, and especially if you live in Toronto proper, please be sure to contact the Mayor and the City Council. At a minimum, you should contact the Mayor and the Councillor for your ward.

You can find the full list of Councillors here, but for your convenience, we'll include the list of (most of their) e-mail addresses here:

Please also consider sending a note to the following Councillors who supported the motion at the Licensing and Standards Committee meeting:

Michelle Berardinetti
(Ward 35 Scarborough Southwest)

Glenn De Baeremaeker
(Ward 38 Scarborough Centre)

Chin Lee
(Ward 41 Scarborough-Rouge River)

Gloria Lindsay Luby
(Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre)

Frances Nunziata
(Ward 11 York South-Weston)

Cesar Palacio
(Ward 17 Davenport)

Anthony Perruzza
(Ward 8 York West)

Kristyn Wong-Tam
(Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale)

Your message to the Mayor or your Councillor need not be detailed; simply include your name and address (so they know you're one of their voters), and indicate that you want him/her to support the shark fin ban. Use your own words, or feel free to draw from this sample message text.

Remember, your two minutes can help save millions of sharks!

Lend a hand to save some fins!℠

 - Christopher Chin
   Executive Director

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