Three-quarters of Vancouver shark fins come from at-risk species

Shark fin on display at an Asian market in Vancouver, July 10, 2012.



VANCOUVER -- DNA results from the University of Guelph, Ont., shows that 76% of shark fin samples from four Metro Vancouver shops come from endangered or vulnerable species.

Dr. Dirk Steinke, director of education and outreach at the university’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, reviewed 59 viable samples collected by the Vancouver Animal Defense League (VADL) from stores in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Richmond’s No. 3 Road.

“When we got the samples, there was the suspicion that a couple of them would certainly be endangered or vulnerable,” Steinke said, “but I would never have thought that basically three-quarters of them are.”
Marley Daviduk of the VADL said her organization was “absolutely shocked” by the numbers, which revealed fins from species such as the great hammerhead shark were being sold at local businesses.

“To have eight (endangered or vulnerable) species out of 59 samples is just worse than we could have ever imagined.”

She warned if the apex predators' numbers diminish further, lower-level predators will flourish and reduce the overall amount of fish in the ocean.

The VADL is calling on the federal government to enact a Canada-wide ban on the sale and importation of shark fins, but Daviduk said the group’s efforts are unlikely to get much traction in Ottawa. For now, she hopes more municipal governments will pass bylaws prohibiting the sale of the delicacy.

City councils in Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver have all instructed staff to look into co-ordinating a regional ban.
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