Florida Dive and Ocean Recreation Businesses Support Shark Fin Legislation
Florida is a world-renown tourist destination for superb diving, snorkeling, and other ocean-based recreation. Our ocean-based businesses directly depend on vibrant reefs and healthy fish populations. Every day we take visitors and residents alike out to the ocean to experience Florida’s magnificent coasts and underwater world. We are deeply concerned to have witnessed declines in our local shark populations over the past years. Sharks and rays are a big attraction for our customers and their protection is vital to the future of our businesses.
Because of this, we understand that a live shark, over its lifetime, is worth much more to everyone in Florida than the one-time value of fins from a dead shark. In fact, an independent study by Oceana found that shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs in 2016, whereas the total U.S. shark fin export market was worth a fraction of that at an estimated value of $1.03 million in 2015.
Furthermore, the value of live sharks goes far beyond basic economics and the livelihoods they help support. Sharks’ role in the ocean ecosystem is irreplaceable. Without our top predators ecosystem balance is threatened; and without balance, Florida’s ocean ecosystems degrade. The degradation of our coastal ecosystems diminishes our reefs, our fishing, and our water quality which in turn impacts our businesses and our bottom-line.
We see many threats to shark populations in Florida and some may take years to address. However, there is an action we can take immediately –- addressing the State of Florida’s involvement in the unsustainable global shark fin trade. There is no reason why Florida should participate in this trade in any way, shape or form. We are in strong support of State legislation that is in progress to end the transportation of shark fins through Florida and to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fins here. We respectfully ask for swift action to enact laws that will prevent loopholes for the shark fin trade and that make enforcement simple and effective.
We are proud of Florida and believe our home State can be a shining example for the conservation and protection of sharks.
We, the undersigned, support SB 352 and HB 99 to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fins and ray parts and we thank the bill sponsors and leadership in the Senate and the House for their support.