Municipal Governance and Innovative Shark Conservation Efforts: Problems and Prospects

AuthorCameron Jefferies & Eran Kaplinsky
 
Municipal Governance and Innovative Shark
Conservation Efforts: Problems and Prospects
Cameron Jeeries & Eran Kaplinsky
With the recent ruling from the International Court of Justice ordering
Japan to stop its Antarctic whaling program, all eyes continue to look to
international law as the primary mode of promoting marine conserva-
tion. This chapter considers the potential of smaller-scale regulatory in-
itiatives by examining the capacity of Canada’s municipal governments
to promote animal welfare and conservation through the use of by-laws.
It will focus on the City of Toronto’s ban on the sale of shark f‌ins and the
judicial battle that led to Toronto’s by-law being invalidated in Eng v To-
ronto (City).
The chapter proceeds as follows. Section B outlines the pressing need
for shark conservation and describes several emerging initiatives on this
front. Section C considers the role of municipalities in protecting animals,
presenting the case for local regulation and assessing the legal power of
municipalities to act in the area. Section D analyzes the Eng decision in
context and considers its impact on current and future municipal con-
servation eorts. Section E concludes with several observations, the chief
Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v Japan: New Zealand Intervening), Judgment
of  March , online: International Court of Justice See also
Chapter .
 ONSC , Spence J [Eng].
136     
of which, perhaps, is that despite its frailties, the municipal response ap-
pears to have contributed to shark conservation in ways that transcend
by-law ecacy or legality.
Sharks are cartilaginous f‌ish that have evolved over the last  million
years. There are over  known species, many of which are f‌ished for
— among other reasons — sport, their meat, and, in some cases, their f‌ins.
All told, some  million sharks are taken from the world’s oceans each
year. As a result of this intense hunting, seventy-four species of sharks
are currently threatened with extinction.
The practice that attracts the most media and conservation attention
is the cruel and wasteful act of shark f‌inning — “removing the f‌ins from a
deceased shark and dumping the carcass back into the ocean or slicing
the f‌ins o a live shark and then leaving the helpless shark in the ocean
to drown, starve to death, or be eaten by other predators.” Shark f‌ins are
highly prized for shark f‌in soup, a traditional Chinese dish associated
with status and prestige that is oen served at banquets, weddings, and
Boris Worm et al, “Global Catches, Exploitation Rates, and Rebuilding Options for
Sharks” ()  Marine Policy  at .
World Wildlife Fund, “Sharks,” online: WWF
Examples of this include the spiny dogf‌ish harvest o Canada’s West Coast and
the porbeagle shark harvest in Atlantic Canada. See Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (Ottawa:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Communications Branch, ) at – [DFO, Na-
tional Plan]; Cameron Jeeries, “Think Globally, Act Locally: How Innovative Do-
mestic Eorts to Reduce Shark Finning May Accomplish What the International
Community Has Not” ()  U Haw L Rev  at  [Jeeries, “Think Globally,
Act Locally”].
See Worm, above note  at  (indicating that  million in the year  and 
million in the year  ref‌lect a “conservative estimate,” with the range of annual
catch being somewhere between  to  million).
See IUCN Red List, “Table a: Red List Category Summary for All Animal Classes
and Orders” at Chondrichthyes, online: IUCN; International
Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN Redlist Categories and Criteria Ver-
sion ., d ed () at –, online: IUCN
Jessica Spiegel, “Even Jaws Deserves to Keep his Fins: Outlawing Shark Finning
Throughout Global Waters” (–)  Boston College Int & Comp L Rev 
at .

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