Carrots & (Chop)Sticks: We need education AND legislation

In the history of humankind, great change has sometimes brought great challenges. There have been many misconceptions around shark fin bans and whether or not they are an effective conservation tool or worse yet, if shark fin bans are an attack on Chinese culture. As a group coming from within the community, we’re clarifying the record once and for all. Read our opinion in the Tyee:

“My parents immigrated to Vancouver from Hong Kong in their late 20s. Before they got married, my mother was working with my grandma, or Ah Poh, in a take-out pizza shop in L’Orange, Saskatchewan to make ends meet. Ah Poh told me stories of the freezing winters, adventures to locate a grocery store that sold ginger so they could make congee, and squeezing into the tiny pizza shop attic to sleep at night. Like many immigrants, my parents settled in what the Chinese coined “Golden Mountain,” because of the spectacular natural landscape, proximity to their home in Hong Kong, and for the opportunity to create a life here in Vancouver. 

My sister and I went to grade school in North Burnaby at a time when the Chinese population was significantly smaller than today’s. Growing up, I experienced my fair share of bullying and as an ethnic minority, I often gave my bullies more material to work with. I remember once in Grade 5, a kid called me a “C—-” and threatened to take all my hard-earned stationary unless I did their Chapter 11 math homework for them. I was initially confused because contrary to the Chinese stereotype, my math skills fell on the left side of the bell curve. Society’s come a long way since those Grade 5 days, but unfortunately I still see, experience and feel forms of discrimination including racism. Racism is when we’re attacking a person or a group of people because of the colour of their skin or the shape of their eyes.

Banning shark fins is not racist, despite what some may claim. The proposals for a shark fin ban might make people feel uncomfortable, but they are fundamentally addressing the shark fin trade that involves not only consumers, but businesses, retailers, shark finners, middlemen, wholesalers, governments, regulatory bodies and most importantly, vulnerable sharks — none of which are associated with one race or culture. With the growing global awareness around shark conservation, a shark fin ban is merely reflecting the cultural shift we’re seeing towards the product: people of all backgrounds want to protect sharks.”