10/26/2011 05:58 EDT | Updated 12/26/2011 05:12 EST

Toronto Shark Fin Ban Studied In Other Communities


When the ban on the use and sale of shark fin comes into effect in Toronto in 2012, it will mean anyone wanting to eat the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup will have to travel to another community.

On Wednesday, in Markham, Ont., just north of Toronto, two city councillors spent $68 apiece for a bowl of the soup at a local restaurant.

For Joe Li and Alan Ho it was an expensive indulgence, but one the councillors chose to make to demonstrate their disappointment over Toronto's decision. A decision they hope won't be repeated in Markham.

Li said that when it comes to sharks it's not just the fins that are eaten.

"We eat every part of it. We don't just eat the fin and throw the rest of it in the ocean," he said.

Markham, has dozens of Chinese restaurants that serve shark fin soup and thousands of patrons who expect to see it on the menu.

Many of the people dining in the restaurants say they see shark fin soup as part of their culture and don't want it banned.

The cities of Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga have recently passed bylaws banning the sale and consumption of shark fin.

On Tuesday, Toronto city council adopted a similar ban with overwhelming support from councillors.

Markham politicians may soon be debating the same issue.

"One or two councillors are thinking of this type of thing from the standpoint of being inhumane of catching the shark," said Ho.

When the issue first came up Markham, Mayor Frank Scarpitti sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking Ottawa to consider a nationwide ban the import, sale and consumption of all animals harvested using inhumane practices.

Coun. Li says those inhumane practices would include seal hunting which is regulating but not banned in Canada.

"All we are asking for is equal treatment," said Li.

Otherwise, Chinese-Canadians say they're being singled out.