Because of its proximity to international waters and a relatively robust shark fishery in its own coastal ocean, Florida is now a major focal point for shark fins imports and exports in the United States.
The port of Miami is currently the largest port of landing of shark fins in the United States. (Miami Herald article ) Many of the countries that export fins to the U.S. have no shark finning bans in place, making it likely that fins coming into the U.S. are from sharks that have been finned, so the cruel practice of shark finning continues whether it is legal or not. Sharks are disappearing and the US is part of this crime on the high seas.
Shark Stewards is joining with Shark Allies #FinFreeFL and other NGOs and individuals to urge Florida to join 13 US States and prohibit the possession, sale and trade of shark fins.
UPDATE 1/15/2020: HB401 is scheduled for the second committee hearing in the Business and Professions Sub. Committee. This is the 2nd of 3 committees that the House bill has to pass. Contact your district’s Senator and Representative to ask for their support of the bills. Find out more by clicking this link, as well as the key talking points and suggested prompts provided by our partners Shark Allies.
Lead by Florida teacher Amber Marie Platowski Shark Stewards is represented and active in Florida pushing for this important law. Love sharks? Join us in Florida to support HB 401. Contact your representative, or send a letter like the example below.
We are writing as business owners and community members to express our concern about our state’s participation in the shark fin trade. It has come to our attention that Florida is actively contributing to the market and allowing the import and export of fins. We find this unacceptable. As our representatives and leadership we ask you to support SB680 and HB401 to end the trade of shark fins in the State of Florida, and make sure the bills receive committee hearings as soon as possible.
We believe that in the past this issue has received unbalanced representation. While there seems to be an emphasis on the economic impact to shark fishermen, the value of sharks to the dive, ocean recreation, and tourism industry has been largely ignored. The fin trade brings very little economic benefit to the state or anyone living here, except a handful of people that profit from the sale of fins. Harming the environment for such a senseless business, which has been recognized as one of the most destructive forces on shark populations and the health of the ocean, is simply short- sighted.
Just as we wouldn’t support the sale of elephant ivory or other endangered species products, we should not allow the sale of shark fins, nor should we contribute to this trade. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice that has been condemned and outlawed in many places, but it continues nevertheless. For 20 years, incremental laws have been put in place, without true results. It is time to close the loopholes.
Florida is a world-renowned tourist destination for diving, snorkeling, and other ocean-based recreation. Our businesses directly depend on vibrant reefs and healthy fish populations. Massive industries depend on healthy fish populations and reefs, which all depend on healthy shark populations.
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. Independent studies showed 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. But the value of sharks goes far beyond the basic economics of diving and tourism. Sharks’ role in the ocean ecosystem is irreplaceable. Without our top predators, the ocean’s balance is threatened; and without balance, Florida’s ocean ecosystems degrade. This affects our reefs, our fishing, and our water quality which in turn impacts every single person living in the state.
We respectfully ask you to take action to end the trade of shark fins in our state. We are proud of Florida and believe our home state should set an example for sustainable practices.