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Conservation Organizations Support Florida Shark Fin Legislation

Our organizations have witnessed the drastic decline of shark populations around the world over the past 30 years with some populations facing local extinctions. Much of our work is focused on the vital protection of the ocean environment and on addressing unsustainable fishing. Sharks are critical to insuring a sustainable future. They are keystone species in the complicated and finely tuned ecosystem that is our oceans. The job they do so perfectly as highly evolved predators through millions of years of evolution cannot be replaced by any other animal, technology, or human practice.

Without our top predators, we risk losing the ecosystem balance that maintains our healthy reefs, productive fishing, and water quality.

Additionally, sharks and rays, alive, are important attractions in the tourism industry as renewable resources for businesses and livelihoods. One shark can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in tourism income over their lifetime in comparison to the one-time profit from a shark killed for its fins.

One of the biggest challenges we face is to effectively curb the global trade of shark fins. Scientists estimate that up to 100 million sharks are killed annually with the primary driver being the value of their fins in the global trade. While shark populations face many threats, it this continuing demand for and trade in their fins that is the cause of scientifically documented, drastic declines in so many shark populations, both coastal and pelagic. There is simply no reasonable argument why Florida should participate in or enable the trade of shark fins any longer.

We are in strong support of legislation that ends the transportation of shark fins through Florida and that prohibits the sale and trade of shark fins. We are hopeful that the Florida State Legislature will see the wisdom in enacting strong laws that will make the State a leader in the conservation and protection of sharks.

We, the undersigned, support Florida Senate Bill # (tbd) and House Bill 99 and we thank the bill sponsors and leadership in the Senate and the House for their support.