Toronto city council voted in favour of banning shark fin products on Tuesday afternoon after a long-simmering debate.

The move bans the possession, sale or consumption of shark fins in Toronto. Council began debating the ban Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. before a vote was held just before 5 p.m.

Applause erupted in City Hall as the final vote of 38-4 was announced. Council also voted to urge Ontario to adopt a province-wide ban.

However, the premier's office told CTV's Paul Bliss on Tuesday that "we're focused on jobs and the economy."

Mayor Rob Ford, who voted against the ban, had earlier said that the proposed ban wouldn't be getting his support.

"I am not going to support a ban on shark fins," Ford told reporters Monday, explaining that he doesn't think it's the city's responsibility to impose the ban.

Councs. Doug Holyday, Giorgio Mammoliti and David Shiner also voted against the ban.

Coun. Doug Ford, who wasn't at Tuesday's vote, was also planning to vote against the shark fin ban.

"I'm a big supporter of the Chinese community, if that's part of their culture then we shouldn't interfere in that," Councillor Ford told reporters Monday.

Shark fin soup is typically served in Chinese restaurants, where it can go for up to $100 a bowl, and at special occasions such as weddings.

Many opponents of the ban say it will damage business for retailers of shark fin products, force couples to hold their weddings outside of the city, and make it difficult to import legal shark meat.

The Toronto Chinese Business Association said it was "disappointed in the outcome" of the vote.

"The City is banning something that our Canadian fisherman are doing for a living on the east coast and west coast, which is deemed legal in this country," the association stated in a press release. "If they can ban one part of a fish, what's next?"

About 300 protesters turned up at Toronto City Hall on Monday to protest the proposed bylaw.

They were members of the Chinese community representing more than 30 businesses. They held a peaceful protest, arguing that the issue is a federal one, and shouldn't be decided at a municipal level.

"We import and export shark meat. If we are just banning just one part of the fish then we think that it is unfair and irresponsible," said Barbara Chui from the Toronto Chinese Business Association.

"We have addressed a lot of information to city council. They should address this issue based on information, not emotion."

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who first introduced the motion, said he is confident councillors will support the ban.

"We are a large community here and we consume a lot of shark fins," he told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.

"So just like elephant tusks and ivory, if you want to save elephants you have to stop the demand for ivory. So we banned ivory and saved elephants. What we're trying to do is ban the consumption of shark fins so we save sharks."

De Baeremaeker's concerns echo those of many shark activists around the world. He said tens of millions of sharks are slaughtered each year around the world. Often their fins are hacked off and they are returned, still alive, to the ocean, where they either bleed to death, drown or are eaten alive by other animals.

"It's a cruel and barbaric practice that has to end," he said.

De Baeremaeker dismissed the suggestion that a shark fin ban would hurt businesses, saying most restaurants have an average of 150 items on the menu.

"If we take off one item, you're still going to have 149 wonderful items to choose from, you're still going to go there on a Saturday night, your friends are still going to enjoy a wonderful meal. Nobody's going to be hurt financially by this whatsoever."

As for Chinese weddings, he said most guests won't notice if one item is missing from a typical 10-course feast.

"It's a cruel and barbaric practice that has to end," he said.

In June 2011, Brantford, Ont. became the first Canadian city to ban the sale of shark fin. Following their lead, Oakville, Ont. enacted a ban a month later. Mississauga, Ont. has also passed a ban on the sale and consumption of shark fin products.