Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this important issue. I want to thank my colleague, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam, for bringing this important issue to the attention of members of the House. Frankly, tens of thousands of Canadians have responded in an incredibly positive manner by agreeing with him and many members of the House that the finning of sharks at sea is an intolerable practice that needs to stop.
I talked at some length in my earlier comments about how approximately 100 million sharks are being killed each year primarily for their fins, shrinking the international shark population and resulting in the near extinction of dozens of species. The last time I was on my feet I spoke about the porbeagle shark, which has subsequently been listed as an extinct species. It is found off the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The problem with that species is primarily the damage that is done as a bycatch. However, there is still a small directed fishery, and there was some attempt made at an international conference last fall to try to get Canada to recognize that it was another species nearing extinction and controls were required to be put on the fishing effort. Unfortunately, at that time Canada decided not to act, though there have subsequently been some efforts in this regard.
There has been a fair bit of polling done of the general population of Canada, and I believe over 80% of Canadians are opposed to this practice and would support a ban. Likewise, the majority of the Asian community also support the measures proposed by this bill. The question that needs to be asked and that is being posed by the member who sponsored this private member's bill is this. Why do we not show some leadership on this important issue, move forward, take action, and respond not only to the international nature of this problem but recognize the will of the Canadian population by proceeding with a ban?
Several municipalities have done that. It is not without its controversy, but New Democrats believe that it is time to act because it is the right thing to do. Surely, members in the House can agree to act on the basis that it is the right thing to do.