A Richmond restaurant owner and animal rights activists got into heated debate in front of diners and reporters on Wednesday over shark fin soup.

Two members of the Vancouver Animal Defense League surprised David Chung, owner of the Jade Seafood Restaurant, at lunchtime, reported The Richmond Review.

Marley Daviduk and Brooklyn Fowler asked the restaurateur to give them 10 fin samples from Jade’s kitchen so they could test for endangered species. They left empty-handed.

"If he doesn't put forth samples, then he's obviously worried about what we're going to find," Daviduk told the Review.

Proponents of a shark fin ban say 100 million sharks, including endangered ones, are being killed every year so their fins can be eaten as a Chinese delicacy in soup.

Conservation groups believe dozens of shark species are endangered while Chung cited that there are three facing extinction under an international agreement.

Chung, who is head of the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association, publicly opposes a ban being considered by the City of Richmond. He defends the consumption of shark fin as a tradition, and not a money-maker for his business.

“I’m not breaking any laws,” the Province reported Chung saying. “If the federal government does the science and decides that we should stop importing sharks’ fins, I will.”

Shark fin soup, which can cost between $10 to $100 per bowl, is often served at banquets as a status symbol, but younger generations of Chinese people have been steadily dropping the item from their events.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang has been trying to get Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby together for a more effective regional ban on shark fin.

A ban on the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin in Toronto goes into effect Sept. 1. It’s also banned in six other Ontario cities, California, Oregon and Hawaii, as well as the B.C. cities of Nanaimo, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

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