To Mayor Derek Corrigan and members of the Council of Burnaby
I am currently in a social justice 12 class. I was given a project by my teacher to make a change someway and I thought writing a petition to ban shark fins in Burnaby was the most important cause to me.
All the people who signed this petition and I would like to bring awareness to a tradition that is bringing many shark species around the world to the brink of extinction.
This tradition started in China during the Ming Dynasty, when it was very difficult and dangerous to kill a shark. If a family served shark fin soup at an important dinner (e.g. a wedding) it would bring a higher social status to the family.
As time went on and the margin between the rich and the poor shrunk, it became easier to get shark fins for weddings but the tradition remained. The demand has risen so much that the whole world is participating in the hunt for shark fins because it is more lucrative than catching other fish.
The most barbaric part of this type of fishing is that the majority of the fisherman cut off the sharks fins while they are still alive and then throw the shark back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death.
Due to the high demand for shark fins, sharks are being overfished so much that many species are becoming threatened with extinction, statistics show that around 90% of shark populations have been wiped out. A typical shark takes five years to mature enough to reproduce and when they come of age, they only produce one to two young at a time. The majority of sharks that are caught are only two years old, so most fished sharks have not had an opportunity to reproduce.
Shark fin soup is not only hurting shark populations, but also the humans that eat it. Studies have shown that there are high levels of mercury in sharks which can cause brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many who eat shark fin soup believe that it has medicinal properties and can boost sexual potency, enhance skin quality, increase energy, prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol. There are also claims that shark fins can prevent cancer but there are no scientific studies to prove that any of this is true.
Even though there is still a high demand for shark fins, the growing awareness of shark finning is turning the opinions of the younger generations that come from a culture that has adopted this practice. It has become more common for younger couples and the younger generation not to serve shark fin soup at important gatherings.
Although there are already cities like Coquitlam who have banned shark fins it is important that all cities put this ban into motion. It has come to our attention that Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby all are considering banning shark fin soup but since there is still a large group of shark fin soup supporters, you are hesitating at the decision, which we respect.
While we understand the importance of traditions and cultures, we would hope you feel an outdated tradition such as this that has such a negative impact on the environment and even the people who eat it should be changed.
We ask Mayor Derek Corrigan and members of the Council of Burnaby to ban shark fins in Burnaby so that the overfishing of sharks may be reduced.
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