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Florida Shark Fin Trade Bill: No Amendments

Shark Fins Drying in a Market


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 joined 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. 

Amendments to SB680 law will condone a domestic shark fishing and fin industry for exports, setting a damaging precedent and killing more sharks than it is meant to protect. We urge Governor DiSantis to work in the best economic interests and protect Florida’s valuable ecosystem and strike the amendments from the original text before signing.

David McGuire, Director Shark Stewards

Dear Governor DeSantis,

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 without amendments to end the trade of shark fins in the State of Florida.

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. This law is condoning a domestic shark fishing and fin industry

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.

Sincerely,

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