Animal Justice Shark Fin Motion to Intervene Dismissed

Justice Low of the Ontario Superior Court has dismissed Animal Justice Canada’s motion to intervene as a friend of the Court in defense of Toronto’s By-Law No. 1247-2011, which bans the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin, as part of an application commenced that seeks to strike the bylaw down. In dismissing the motion, Justice Low stated that in her view “this proceeding is not about animals or animal welfare.” She further noted that the City of Toronto is “well equipped to defend the jurisdiction and validity of its by-laws”.

Despite Justice Low’s characterization of the issue, Animal Justice maintains the position that the Shark Fin By-Law is about animals.

“Citizens and governments across Canada and around the world have stated their commitment to phasing out the cruel and unsustainable practice of shark finning. Attempts by those who profit from the trade in shark fin to delay and obstruct an end to the practice are failing. It is our view that the City of Toronto and all Ontario Municipalities have clear jurisdiction to legislate on animals and prohibit shark fin. This is an important case that could clearly and unambiguously demonstrate the broad jurisdiction granted to municipalities by the Province in 2001,” said Nicholas dePencier Wright, Executive Director of Animal Justice Canada.

The application was brought forward by Hughes Eng, Barbara Chiu, Peter Tam and Jacky Ma. The applicants contend that the Shark Fin By-Law is ultra vires Toronto’s jurisdiction. The challenge was organized and funded by pro-business front group Fair and Responsible Governance Alliance (FARGA), which was created for the purpose of fighting shark fin bans. A copy of the Application Record, including the Applicant’s arguments, is available HERE.

Ontario lawyer Kevin D. Toyne, of Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP, who argued the motion on behalf of Animal Justice, was retained by Animal Justice on a pro bono basis.

The full application is scheduled to be heard on November 5, 2012 at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, at which time parties to the application will be making full submissions to the Court.

Fuelled by the demand for shark fin soup and considered a delicacy in some cultures, shark finning is a widespread practice that occurs when a shark is captured, its fins are sliced off, and the shark is discarded back into the ocean.

Shark finning causes immense pain and suffering, as the sharks are nearly always still alive when their fins are removed. After being tossed back into the ocean without their fins, the live sharks usually suffocate to death. Sharks breathe by having water flow through their gills while swimming, but without fins they are unable to swim and are therefore unable to absorb adequate oxygen. The result is a slow, painful death.

Worldwide, shark finning is a cause of rapidly plummeting shark populations, with some shark species reportedly having been reduced by 80% or more in the past 50 years. The practice is also incredibly wasteful, as only the fins of the shark are used. The rest of the body, worth far less than the fins, is simply thrown away.

Animal Justice Canada is a Canadian Registered Charity dedicated to advancing public knowledge of animal practices and preventing the abuse and killing of animals through the enforcement of existing laws.

Tax deductible donations can be made on the website using credit card or PayPal at: http://animaljustice.ca/donate or by contacting the organization to make alternative arrangements.