Council votes in favour of shark fin ban: Yay Toronto!
NOAA agent counting confiscated shark fins.

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Toronto city councillors voted to ban the sale of shark fin products Tuesday afternoon.

The final vote was 38-4.

Councillors are also urging Ontario to adopt a province-wide ban.

The bylaw will bring an end to the sale of shark fins and controversial products such as shark fin soup. The ban also makes it illegal for any Torontonian to possess or consume the product.

Councillors in favour of the ban kicked off the meeting by presenting petitions with more than 16,000 signatures from people in favour of banning shark fin products.

The bylaw would provide businesses selling shark fin products with a six-month grace period to sell of their excess stock before being subjected to steep fines.

The vote was put over until today after city councillors dealt with several other matters, including a vote to privatize garbage collection, and ran out of time Monday.

Supporters and opponents of the proposed ban demonstrated alongside each other outside city hall Tuesday, a day after about 300 of the ban’s opponents held a protest. Some of the supporters dressed in shark costumes.

Under the plan, businesses would face a $5,000 fine for a first offence, a $25,000 fine for a second offence and a $100,000 fine for all offences thereafter.

The proposed ban is similar to ones implemented in Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville.

The proposal was met by staunch opposition by some members of Toronto’s business community who use and sell shark fin products.

A group of about 200 people gathered in a circle outside city hall Monday to protest the ban, carrying signs that read “An unfair and irresponsible act.”

Barbara Chiu, executive director of the Toronto Chinese Business Association and a spokeswoman for the protesters, said a municipal government shouldn’t be making such a decision.

She said it should be up to federal lawmakers in Ottawa.

The idea of banning the sale of shark fin products began with city councilors Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam.

Over the last several months the pair had repeatedly pushed for an end to the harvesting practice, which sees many sharks thrown back to die after their fins are removed, calling it “barbaric” and “cruel.”

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Hello, my name is Dayle. I am a designer of both print & web, as well as an advocate of positive social change. My goal for this blog "Nice deeds, by nice people" is to use the internet as a tool for good. My focus is on inspirational stories about individuals, groups and organizations that are making a difference in the world we live in. Please take part in the conversations, or submit ideas for stories. By reading, getting involved and spreading the word through social mediums, you can help bring attention to the issues that we all face today.
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