FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Family of Filmmaker Rob Stewart speak
in support of the City Council Motion to Ban Shark Fin in Canada
TORONTO (April 27, 2017) — Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith were joined by the family of the late, Rob Stewart, to declare their support for a federal ban on importation of shark fins into Canada.
This is the Stewart family's first joint public appearance to discuss Mr. Stewart's conservation work, since his unexpected death. Alexandra Stewart, his sister attended the press conference with their parents, Brian and Sandy Stewart.
Mr. Rob Stewart was a Canadian photographer, filmmaker and conservationist. He produced the award-winning 2006 documentary Sharkwater, a film that brought attention to the devastation caused by the shark fin industry and the destruction of ocean ecosystems, and continued the theme in his next film, Revolution. He died in January 2017, while filming Sharkwater: Extinction, the sequel to Sharkwater.
"Rob dedicated his life and work to raising awareness to the decimation of shark populations and was committed to seeing an end to the practice of shark finning. He would be pleased to see this motion come forward and if he was with us today, he would be at the forefront of ensuring that the federal bill is approved," said Brian Stewart.
Councillor Wong-Tam states, "The conservation efforts to save sharks and promote ocean preservation in Asia is wide-spread, from the ban of shark finning by the Taiwanese government in 2012 to the elimination of shark fin soup from official Chinese-state functions in 2013 to the bans of shark fin cargo in Asia-based airlines, Air China and Cathay Pacific. Asian government and business leaders are responding to the environmental campaigns to save sharks being fished to extinction and so should the leaders in Canada."
This afternoon, Toronto City Council will vote on a motion that calls on the City to support Bill S-238. The private member's bill was introduced to the Senate by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald, from Nova Scotia. Senator Macdonald's bill is the third federal bill introduced in 5 years to attempt to ban the importation of shark fin.
NDP MP Fin Donnelly attempted to introduce the same bill in 2013 but the bill lost by 5 votes, under the Harper government. The bill had unanimous support from all NDP and Liberal MPs at the time.
Liberal MP Erskine-Smith's private member bill, BC-246, a wide-ranging bill to modernize animal rights which included the federal importation ban of the shark fin was also defeated in October 2016.
Shark finning is a practice that involves cutting the fins off living sharks and then throwing the animals back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to feed the global demand for shark fin soup.
- In April 2017, Senator Michael L. MacDonald, introduced Bill S-238, which would prohibit the import of shark fins into Canada. Members of Parliament will vote on whether to advance the bill in the coming months
- There are now 17 Canadian municipalities that have banned the sale of shark fin products: Abbotsford, Brantford, Coquitlam, Duncan, City of Langley, Township of Langley, London, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Newmarket, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Oakville, Pickering, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, and White Rock.
- In 2012, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) passed a near-unanimous resolution calling on the federal government to ban shark fin imports.
- In 2015, Canada imported 144,540 kg of shark fins —an increase of over 36 per cent since 2012, when 106, 109 kg entered our borders. (Source: Statistics Canada)
- In 2013, in a poll conducted by a telephone survey of 2,006 Canadians for Humane Society International/Canada, Environics, 81% of Canadians supported a shark-fin import ban.
- Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems.
- Sharks are being fished at the rate of 100,000,000 sharks per year. 10,000 sharks an hour.
- Shark fin products are primarily served in a soup broth at Chinese banquets, such as weddings. The demand for this dish, coupled with unsustainable fishing methods, have led some shark populations to decline by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.