Sunday, June 2, 2013

Calgary’s Shark Fin Bylaw 45M2012 Needs to be Abandoned

My Asian friend immigrated to Calgary 48 years ago on May 2nd to join her father. She always told everyone how much she enjoyed her City and her Community. She considered herself living in harmony all these years.

That all changed July 16th, 2012 when Council passed a motion to draft a bylaw banning the possession, distribution and consumption of shark fin and shark fin products in the City of Calgary. This was followed October 15th, 2012 with Council passing first reading of the above-noted bylaw without prior and proper consultation with the affected citizens; the Chinese Community in Calgary and Calgarians in general.  This action was in opposition to the City of Calgary policy, CS009, Engage Policy, dated May 28th, 2003.

Engage Policy Statement
The City of Calgary (Council and Administration) recognizes that decisions are improved by engaging citizens and other stakeholder groups where appropriate, and is committed to transparent and inclusive processes that are responsive and accountable, and within the Corporations ability to finance and resource.
The City of Calgary assigns a high priority to appropriately informing and involving citizens and other stakeholders early on and throughout the process, where the decision(s) impact their lives.

Why the City should abandon bylaw 45M2012.
  1. Alberta’s Municipal Government Act lists three municipal purposes: to provide good government, to provide necessary and desirable facilities and services, and to develop and maintain safe communities.  The proposed shark fin ban is related to none of these purposes and is therefore ultra vires, literally "beyond the powers".
  2. Should the City proceed and enact the ban despite lacking the jurisdiction, there is a legal precedent to overturn the bylaw.  The City of Toronto’s bylaw banning the sale and distribution of shark fins was ruled ultra vires by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in November, 2012, Eng v. Toronto (City), 2012 ONSC 6818 (CanLII). The Ontario Court reached its decision to strike down the Toronto ban without examining whether the Province of Ontario has constitutional jurisdiction over sharks.
  3. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 divides jurisdiction over all matters between the federal and provincial governments.  The provinces are not given authority over sharks and shark fisheries; that jurisdiction rests with the federal government.  The federal government is signatory to international conventions and has enacted legislation regarding sharks and shark fisheries.  The actions of the federal government have demonstrated that it has jurisdiction to legislate over this issue and that it has not abandoned its jurisdiction, Statement from Bob Dechert, MP dated August, 2011.
  4. Canada has sustainable shark management plans in place with strong enforcement regimes to ensure that ‘finning’ does not occur in Canadian fisheries and Canadian waters.  Harvests are carefully managed to ensure conservation.  Canada maintains the first and only shark fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, Statement from Mr. Randy Kamp, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, February 11th, 2013 debate on Bill C380.
a)      The act of finning has been prohibited in Canada since 1994.
b)      In 2007, Canada released its National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of sharks (NPOA sharks) within the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
c)      As a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), Canada has a legal obligation to prevent the import of products from shark species that are listed as endangered, MP Costas Menegakis applauds defeat of Bill C-380, March 23rd, 2013.
d)       As of July, 2012, "85% of the top 26 shark fishing nations have adopted or are adopting NPOA sharks.
  1. Many viewed the ban of shark fin soup as an attack on Chinese Culture.  All Canadians should have the right to consume a culturally important food provided it is obtained legally and from species that are not endangered. Therefore the fins must come from sharks that are harvested legally and free from the cruel practice of ‘finning’, Lawrence MacAulay, Liberal MP for Cardigan, PEI, February 11th, 2013 debate on Bill C380.
  2. China set a zero growth rate for fishing production in its territorial waters in 1999, the aim is to restore and maintain fishery resources, including shark stocks, Document from FAO; Shark Utilization in China, Shark Fishery Management and Regulation in China.
  3. Finally, the major harvest or capture of sharks is from what’s referred to as bycatch, 60% of all sharks caught are as a by-product of fishing practises such as those used in the Tuna fishery. If we are serious about shark conservation, let’s look at fishing methods, etc…

In summary,  I would like to say that the best method of thinking globally and acting locally is to support the federal government to further their efforts to promote the sustainable management and conservation of sharks through international organizations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Regional Fisheries Management bodies such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and continue to use their influence in these forums to encourage shark fishing nations to follow Canada's example and prohibit the practice of shark ‘finning’.

I hereby request Calgary City Council to abandon the proposed bylaw M452012.  I want to restore the harmony to the life of my friend.

Donn Lovett
President, Donn Lovett Agency, Partner in Research on Investments and ‘pro bono’ adviser to the Coalition for Transparent and Accountable Governance (CTAG).

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