Some consider it a delicacy, it can cost up to $200 a serving and, if some city councillors have their way, it may soon be banished from Toronto’s restaurants.
The move to ban shark fin soup in the city is now in the hands of the municipal licensing and standards committee after a council meeting last week that pushed the issue ahead.
“We will be anticipating a staff report to come back and from there we are hopefully getting favourable results and moving forward from there,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who, along with Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, has led the charge against the Chinese dish at city hall.
The controversy surrounding shark fin soup has to do with the numbers of sharks affected and how the fins are collected, she said.
“There are 73 million sharks every year hauled up from the bottom of the ocean,” Wong-Tam said. “Their fins are sawed off using a hot blade, their bodies are not desired, so the shark is then tossed into the ocean where it can no longer swim. It will drown or be eaten by other fish.”
According to a report submitted to council supporting the move by De Baeremaeker and Wong-Tam, sharks could be extinct in under 20 years if the rate of slaughter doesn’t change.
The move to ban shark fin soup is not unique to Toronto, she said. Jurisdictions in Asia, including in China, are taking action, and the cause has been taken up by animal welfare and environmental groups, she said.
“Two-thirds of the world’s oxygen is dependent on the health and vitality of our oceans” Wong-Tam said. “We need to maintain a balance on the marine ecosystem or we could soon see a collapse of the marine ocean life, which is extremely bad news for aquatic life and humans as well.”