Florida Senate - 2017 SB 884 By Senator Hutson 7-01491-17 2017884__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to sharks; creating s. 379.2426, F.S.; 3 prohibiting the possession, sale, offer for sale, 4 trade, or distribution of shark fins or shark tails; 5 providing definitions; providing an exemption for 6 certain licensees or permitholders under specified 7 circumstances; requiring any shark fin or shark tail 8 seized by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation 9 Commission to be destroyed; providing penalties; 10 authorizing the commission to adopt rules to 11 administer the act; providing an effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, sharks, or elasmobranchs, are critical to the 14 health of ocean ecosystems, and 15 WHEREAS, sharks are particularly susceptible to decline due 16 to overfishing because they are slow to reach reproductive 17 maturity and birth small litters, and cannot rebuild their 18 populations quickly once they are overfished, and 19 WHEREAS, though sharks occupy the top of the marine food 20 chain, their decline is an urgent problem that upsets the 21 balance of species in ocean ecosystems and negatively affects 22 other fisheries, constituting a serious threat to biodiversity 23 and to open ocean and coastal ecosystems, and 24 WHEREAS, the practice of shark finning, where a shark is 25 caught, its fins cut off, and the animal dumped back into the 26 water to starve to death, drown from lack of oxygen that would 27 otherwise be forced through its gills from constant movement, or 28 be slowly be eaten by other fish is a cruel practice that causes 29 tens of millions of sharks to die each year, and 30 WHEREAS, data from federal and international agencies show 31 a decline in shark populations worldwide, and 32 WHEREAS, Florida is a market for shark fins and shark fin 33 products and this demand helps drive the cruel practice of shark 34 finning, leading to a decline in shark populations, and 35 WHEREAS, by taking steps to address this problem, Florida 36 can help ensure that sharks do not become extinct as a result of 37 shark finning, and 38 WHEREAS, sharks have a long lifespan and bioaccumulate 39 mercury in their bodies throughout their lives, so shark fins 40 often contain high levels of mercury, which has been proven 41 dangerous to consumers’ health, NOW, THEREFORE, 42 43 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 44 45 Section 1. Section 379.2426, Florida Statutes, is created 46 to read: 47 379.2426 Trade in shark fins or tails prohibited.— 48 (1) As used in this section, the term: 49 (a) “Shark” means any species of the subclass 50 elasmobranchii. 51 (b) “Shark fin” means the raw, dried, or otherwise 52 processed detached fin of a shark. 53 (c) “Shark tail” means the raw, dried, or otherwise 54 processed detached tail of a shark. 55 (2) Except as provided in this section, no person shall 56 possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin 57 or shark tail. 58 (3) A person who holds a license or permit to take or land 59 sharks may separate a shark fin or shark tail from a lawfully 60 landed shark during the ordinary course of preparing the body of 61 the shark for consumption, sale, trade, or distribution; 62 provided, however, that a shark fin or shark tail so separated 63 from the shark shall be immediately destroyed unless used by the 64 person for the purposes of taxidermy and subsequent display. 65 (4) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may issue 66 a permit for the possession of a shark fin or shark tail to a 67 person conducting noncommercial, scientific research. 68 (5) A shark fin or shark tail seized by the Fish and 69 Wildlife Conservation Commission through the enforcement of this 70 section shall be destroyed. 71 (6) Any person who violates this section commits a Level 72 Three violation under s. 379.401; provided, however, that each 73 shark fin or shark tail possessed, sold, offered for sale, 74 traded, or distributed in violation of this section constitutes 75 a separate offense. A violation of this section by a person 76 holding a commercial or recreational license or permit pursuant 77 to this chapter shall result in the suspension or revocation of 78 the person’s license or permit. 79 (7) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may adopt 80 rules to administer this section. 81 Section 2. This act shall take effect October 1, 2017.