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Activists call for shark-fin ban

Like many people of Chinese heritage, Anthony Marr ate shark fin soup, a symbol of wealth and prosperity often served at wedding banquets.

Then, as a young man, he learned how shark fins are harvested.

"I was appalled," said Marr, now an animal rights activist. "I actually saw a video that showed how the sharks were just baited and hooked, brought on board ... then had the pectoral fins and dorsal fins and the tail cut off and the rest of the shark thrown back.

"Then there was also footage showing one of the sharks sinking to the bottom and just trying to gasp for breath and couldn't move, just kept wriggling the body until they die. It was horrible."

Marr, a Vancouver resident, will be speaking as a delegation to Burnaby council on Monday evening on behalf of the Vancouver Animal Defence League. The group wants to see the city ban the sale of shark fins and the serving of shark fin soup.

In recent months, Port Moody and Coquitlam have already approved such a ban, Marr said, and several cities in Ontario done so before that.

The group is now aiming to get such bans in place in the Lower Mainland cities with the largest populations of people of Chinese heritage—Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.

Marr said that, of the more than 400 species of shark, over half are endangered. Shark fishing is mostly carried out by poachers who "don't give a hoot" what species they're poaching, so half of the shark fins sold are likely from endangered species.

The largest harvesters of shark fin are in Costa Rica, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Singapore and Taiwan, he said.

Marr has been involved in campaigns to protect tigers in India and whales and dolphins off the coast of Japan. For him, the campaign to ban the trade of shark fins is personally significant.

"I also feel if it's a Chinese activist who stood up and led to the banning of it then the Chinese people would doubly redeem themselves," he said, "by number one, stopping it, number two, stop using it."

Marr and the Vancouver Animal Defence League will hold a demonstration in front of Burnaby city hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 25, which he is calling on members of the public to join. That will be followed by Marr's 10-minute presentation to council at 7 p.m. Monday in city hall council chambers. Info: http://bit.ly/Lg0VIu.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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