News / Vancouver

Richmond MP Alice Wong eats shark fin soup for Asian media's eyes only

Conservative Richmond MP Alice Wong appeared in front of Asian media only on Thursday to slurp some shark fin soup, in the midst of an effort by the City of Vancouver to engage the municipality in a regional shark fin ban.

Ming Pao reporter Lawrence Li told Metro about 20 news outlets were in attendance as Wong gave a speech alongside Jade restaurant owner David Chung.

English media did not catch wind of the story until Friday.

"The regulation of shark finning is a federal issue, not a municipal one," reads a statement sent out Thursday by Wong's spokesman Robert Lynch, which Ming Pao shared with Metro.

"And we have no intention of introducing legislation to make shark fin soup illegal."

The statement accuses the NDP, which is calling for a nationwide ban on shark fin imports, of "dismissing the legitimate concerns of the Chinese community and business owners."

"If a product such as shark fin is derived from a legal, humane and sustainable harvest, we see no basis to restrict its trade," it reads.

The NDP points to a study released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 2009, which found that more than a third of all shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of shark finning.

Chung, who heads the BC Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association, has refused animal rights organizations' requests for tests to determine whether the fins served in his restaurant belong to endangered species.

Lynch promised Friday to return a call and explain why English media were not invited to the news conference, but did not meet Metro's deadline.

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