Rob Stewart and leading environmental NGOs, including United Conservationists, launch a summer long "Celebrate Sharks" campaign and coalition to ban shark fins in Toronto.
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam met with press today to outline their proposal to ban the sale of shark fins within the City of Toronto. Toronto's Rob Stewart (Sharkwater www.sharkwater.com) and Wildaid (www.wildaid.org) announced the launch of Fin free Toronto, a coalition of leading environmental groups and NGOs for "Celebrate Sharks", a city-wide summer educational campaign to raise awareness of the plight of sharks. Celebrate Sharks will include free screenings of Sharkwater, talks by Rob Stewart and other experts, grassroots events and discussions, and a petition drive to gather 10,000 signatures in support of the shark fin ban on www.finfreetoronto.com
As a grassroots initiative, Stewart has pledged to visit and give a talk for any school or group that gets more than 1000 signatures in support of the ban. His first public appearance in support of Celebrate Sharks will be at the ROM on June 15th.
Sharks are being slaughtered world wide at the rate of over 70 million per year; with experts agreeing that many species are nearing extinction. Shark populations are believed to have dropped by as much as 90% in the last few decades, largely because of the demand for shark fin.
The demand for shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy, has driven the price of fins to 700$/kg. This huge economic draw led to the practice of finning, where only the shark's fins are kept and the rest of the body is discarded, wasting 95% of the animal.
The Canadian government has banned "shark finning" in Canadian waters since 1994 as has the United States (2009) and the European Community (2003); but the sale of shark fins continues in cities across Canada and the world. States and municipal governments – including Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Washington State, Oregon and California - representing over 47 million people have introduced bans on the trade and consumption of shark fins; with legislators in mainland China and Indonesia initiating bans and restrictions as well. The City of Brantford, Ontario is the first municipality in Canada to ban shark fins.