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.
   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,
   43  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.