Florida Bill Explanation

 
Stefanie Brendl

Stefanie Brendl

 

Bill numbers and sponsors

Senate Bill - Main Sponsor - Senator Joe Gruters (R)

House Bill - Main Sponsor - Representative Kristin Jacobs (D)

The bills are essentially the same. Sponsors are currently adding co-sponsors. New bill numbers will be announced September 2019 for the next session

Intention of the Bills

• To stop the flow of fins coming through Florida ports of entry and therefore avoid supporting the global trade of fins.

• To stop the incentive for illegal finning. (No fin sales = no purpose for finning.)

• To reduce bycatch of sharks – due to the high value of fins, there is incentive to keep sharks that are accidentally caught and would otherwise be released. (As long as shark fins can be sold, it is less likely that commercial outfits will switch to methods and gear that help avoid catching sharks “accidentally”.)

• To close all channels for “legal” fins. The global trade is devastating shark populations. Participating in the harvest or sale of this product means you are inadvertently contributing to a market that is destroying an important resource for many industries as well as an animal that is important to the health of our oceans and fisheries.

• To make note of inclusion of Manta and Mobula rays, which are part of the shark family and often left out of fin legislation. They are equally hunted to extinction for their fins (and gill rakers) and traded through the same channels.

• To protect Florida’s natural marine resources, which draw millions of visitors each year and provide countless local and statewide economic benefits.

WHAT THE BILLS WILL DO

• They will ban the commercial trade of fins and Manta/Mobula parts in Florida and through Florida’s ports. Fins would only be allowed for personal use. No one would be allowed to enter fins into the marketplace or sell products made from fins.

• They will make Florida the 13th state to take a stand against the global shark fin trade. This is particularly important since Florida is currently the number one hub for the fin trade in the U.S.

• They will go beyond the existing prohibition on “finning”. (By not prohibiting the sale and trade of fins we inadvertently continue to encourage “finning” whether it is legal or not.)

• Since there would be no legal pathway for the commercial trade of fins, they would dramatically simplify and make enforcement more effective because:

- No special training is needed to identify shark fins;

- No DNA testing is required to confirm species; and

- No loopholes exist such as:

• Sharks claimed to have been caught outside of state or federal jurisdictions,

• Shark fins that are claimed as a permitted species but are in fact taken from rare and endangered species.

WHAT THE BILLS WILL NOT DO

• They will not affect recreational or commercial fishing as long as you do not sell the fin or prepare it for sale in a product.

• They will not amend animal cruelty laws. It cannot be used to go after anyone that mistreats sharks in any manner.

• They will not compete or conflict with federal law. Federal law prohibits finning and requires sharks be landed whole.

• They will not prevent anyone from catching a shark and taking it home to eat it. Subsistence fishing is not prohibited.

• They will not prohibit catching sharks and retaining fins for bona fide shark research.

Laurel Irvine