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Banning the sale of shark fins: Over to the Minister

Last week the Minister of Agriculture committed to meeting with me to discuss how the province of British Columbia could end the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in British Columbia. On Monday of this week we met. At the meeting I promised to put together a package of information that he committed to pass along to Ministry staff for a thorough review.

I am pleased to report that I presented the Minister with a binder containing detailed and comprehensive information outlining the rationale for implementing legislation to ban the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in British Columbia. Below I reproduce the letter and the table describing the information contained in the binder.

Please note that the information in Tab 10 is especially pertinent to British Columbia. BC has a highly regarded and sustainable spiny dogfish industry. BC legislation could include a specific exemption for spiny and smooth dogfish that are lawfully caught by a licensed fisher.

I am very grateful to Margaret McCullough and the GNS Fin Free StudentsJulia Baum at the University of Victoria, Nicholas Dulvy at Simon Fraser University, Gabriel Wildgen at Humane Society International/Canada, and Nicholas Wright at Wright Business Law in Toronto for their assistance and/or advice as I put together this package.


Letter to the Minister

Dear Minister Letnick,

I very much appreciated you agreeing to meet with me on Monday, November 24 to further discuss the question I posed to you in the legislature on Thursday, November 20. As you will recall, I asked whether or not the Province would consider introducing legislation to ban the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in British Columbia.

In the meeting, I agreed to provide you with a package of information that you committed to passing along to Ministry staff for a thorough review. Please find attached a binder containing such information.
The binder is separated into fifteen sections whose contents are summarized below.

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me to discuss this important issue. I very much look forward to your further correspondence.

Yours sincerely
Andrew Weaver
MLA Oak Bay Gordon Head

Summary of Binder Contents




Description of Contents

1 Summary Letter Copy of this letter
2 Legal Opinion Legal opinion provided by Nicholas Wright, Barrister & Solicitor, to Humane Society International/Canada. The opinion states: “British Columbia has the authority to ban the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins through constitutional provisions pursuant to section 92(13) and section 92(16) of our constitution.”
3 Scientific Studies Four key scientific papers are included.1) Worm et al., 2013: Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks. Marine Policy, 40, 194-204.I quoted from this study in Question Period. In this study, Worm and his colleagues produced three independent estimates of the average rate that sharks are killed per year. These estimates ranged between 6.4% and 7.9%, all exceeding 4.9% per year — the amount needed to keep populations stable.2) Dulvy et al., 2014: Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and ray. eLIFE: eLife 2014;3:e00590. http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00590.001Dulvy (from SFU) and his colleagues examined the extinction threat of 1,041 species of sharks and rays. One quarter of all of these species, particularly larger species in shallow waters that are harvested in the finning industry, are threatened with extinction. Only 37.4% of all species are considered safe.

3) Ferretti et al., 2010: Patterns and ecosystem consequences of shark declines in the ocean. Ecology Letters, 13, 1055-1071.

Ferretti and colleagues examined the effects that declining populations of large sharks have had on marine biodiversity. They found that human predation of these large sharks has had a significant effect on marine communities of other species.

4) Clarke et al., 2012: Population trends in Pacific oceanic sharks and utility of regulations on shark finning. Conservation Biology, 27, 197–209.

Clarke and colleagues found declining shark populations in the Pacific Ocean and noted “targeted fishing for sharks in some regional fisheries heighten concerns for sustainable utilization”.

4 Media – Global Several examples of media coverage from around the world on the topic of shark finning.
5 Media – US Several examples of US media coverage of shark finning. Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, as well as California, Oregon, and Washington have all banned the sale of shark fins.
6 Media – Canada Two examples from Canadian media coverage of shark finning.
7 Media – BC A few examples from BC media coverage of shark finning. Of particular note is the article pointing out the success of the UBCM resolution as well as the CTV news article that points out that fins from sharks that are now on the UN CITES list (tab 14) were found for sale in Vancouver.
8 Weaver blog Copies of all blog posts on my website: AndrewWeaverMLA.ca that concern shark finning.
9 Global legislation A list of jurisdictions around the world that have regulations on shark finning.
10 BC Dogfish + US Legislation Information concerning the well-managed, sustainable, British Columbia spiny dogfish industry.In addition, I have included sample legislation from New York State. New York also has a sustainable dogfish industry. They included a specific exemption for spiny and smooth dogfish that were lawfully caught by a licensed fisher.
11 BC Municipal Legislation Information concerning municipal legislation in North Vancouver and Port Moody where shark fin possession, sale, trade and distribution bans have been passed.
12 Polling info Polling results from March 2013 conducted by Environics Research Group for Humane Society International – Canada. The poll indicates only 13% of Canadians oppose a ban on importing shark fins to Canada.
13 IUCN SSG Position Position statement of the United Nations International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group (SSG) on shark finning. Note that Dr. Nicholas Dulvy, co-chair of the IUCN SSG, is a Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Simon Fraser University.The position statement notes: “shark finning …threatens many shark stocks, the stability of marine ecosystems, sustainable traditional fisheries, food security and socio-economically important recreational fisheries.”
14 UN CITES Copy of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora together with its appendices. The list includes five orders in subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks). The five orders are: Carcharhiniformes (Ground Sharks), Lamniformes (Mackerel Sharks), Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks), Pristiformes (swordfish) and Rajiformes (skates).
15 CITES Parties List of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora indicating that Canada ratified the agreement on April 10, 1975.


  1. Daniela Gadotti-
    December 18, 2014 at 8:22 am

    and here I thought that shark fins trade had been banned nation-wide already! Do we expect Minister Letnick to study the binder and draft legislation? This is the same government that uses tax money to kill wolves, allegedly in defence of woodland cariboos, while approving expansion of ski operations and logging in cariboo habitat.

  2. Catherine Stone-
    December 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I just read much of Adam Olsen’s monthly report. You have my sincere appreciation for your efforts regarding shark finning. It’s my opinion that comprehensive legislation to address the situation is long overdue and I wish you every success.

    Many thanks,

    • December 3, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Catherine. I am indebted to the group of young children and their teacher who brought the issue to my attention.