THE City of North Vancouver is joining in the growing campaign against the sale of shark fin.
Coun. Craig Keating introduced a motion at Monday's council meeting, asking staff to begin preparing a bylaw that would ban the possession, sale and distribution of the product within the municipality.
The motion also calls for the city to lobby the provincial and federal governments to ban shark fin outright.
Activists have been pushing for a ban on the importation of the fish product, most often served as a Chinese wedding delicacy, because of its cruel harvesting practices and environmental effects.
Fishers typically haul sharks out of the water in nets, hack off their fins and then toss the animals back in the ocean to bleed out. Because sharks are a top predator, killing them in large numbers upsets ocean ecosystems, activists argue.
Keating brought the motion forward at the request of a citizen who is a member of the Humane Society International, one of the groups seeking an end to the practice.
"It would be wrong of me to suggest that it's a growing or burgeoning issue in the City of North Vancouver, but in this instance . . . the important thing is to deal with a practice that is not only inhumane and wasteful, but also has serious ecological impacts," Keating said, introducing the motion.
The motion drew sharp criticism from Coun. Pam Bookham, who suggested Keating's motion was wasting council's time.
"I didn't support the motion that we add six meetings to our schedule this year in order that we might spend the time debating issues like this.
"I would prefer to spend more time on difficult decisions like Low Level Road, Harbourside, or revising our (official community plan)," she said.
Bookham challenged Keating to go protest in front of North Vancouver stores or restaurants that sell shark fin, "if, in fact, there are any."
Bookham agreed that shark fin harvesting is barbaric, but she argued the city has no role in regulating food consumption.
"Why start at sharks? Why not do the same with beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, mollusks, wild game, roadkill?" she asked.
Keating said he made no apologies for bringing food issues from constituents to the council table.
Mayor Darrell Mussatto added that the city has a role to show leadership on environmental issues, especially for other governments in the Lower Mainland.
Port Moody was the first Metro Vancouver city to ban shark fin in May 2012.
Bookham and Coun. Guy Heywood voted against the motion on the grounds that it was out of council's jurisdiction.