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Would a shark-fin ban work in Canada? Add to ...

Several U.S. states are considering banning the sale and possession of shark’s fin. Even in China, a lawmaker at the National People’s Congress proposed a ban on the trade earlier this month.

Peter Knights, executive director of the San Francisco-based conservation group WildAid, says his organization is planning to campaign for a ban in Canada.

But not everyone agrees that a blanket ban would work here. Claudia Li, founder of Vancouver volunteer group Shark Truth, fears that a ban at this point would simply push the consumption of shark’s fin underground. And without a foundation of public awareness of the animal cruelty and ecological damage involved in the industry, she says, Canadian politicians aren’t likely to take a stand.

But Mr. Knights says that since shark’s fin is primarily served at large gatherings, such as weddings and special occasions, he doesn’t believe that a ban would drive a black-market trade. “Do people really want to have an illegal wedding or an illegal banquet? Would you really want to risk your celebration?” he says.

In Hawaii, which adopted a ban last year, restaurant owners said legislation was necessary, otherwise those who voluntarily took shark’s fin off their menus would lose money to competitors who continued to serve it, Mr. Knights says.

He adds that once the trade is abolished, most people won’t miss it. “It will never be like, ‘Oh, remember the days when we had shark fin.’ ”

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