Florida Shark Fin Bill

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On November 17, 2011, at the urging of SRI CEO Jupp Kerckerinck, Senator Bennett introduced SB 1002, a bill to ban the shark fin trade in Florida, but the bill was withdrawn in January 2012 when it failed to gain the necessary support. Recently, a 13-year-old Florida boy, Thomas Ponce, began lobbying state lawmakers to outlaw the sale of shark fins. "The only way we can change, to see real change, is if we change the law," said Thomas. He approached Florida Sen. David Simmons with his concerns. Initially, the senator was skeptical, but he listened to what the teen had to say, and became convinced. On December 18, 2013, Senator Simmons filed Senate Bill 540 on December 18, 2013, saying "It is a viable, legitimate issue that needs to be acted on."

Text of SB 540

Florida Senate

-

2014

SB 540

By

Senator Simmons 10-00441-14 2014540__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to sharks; creating s. 379.2427, F.S.; 3 providing definitions; prohibiting the possession, 4 sale, trade, purchase, shipping, barter, exchange, or 5 distribution of shark fins; providing criminal 6 penalties and the assessment of specified fees and 7 costs by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation 8 Commission; requiring the destruction of seized shark 9 fins; providing for applicability; authorizing the 10 commission to adopt rules; providing an effective 11 date. 12 13 WHEREAS, species of finfish in the class Chondrichthyes, 14 subclass Elasmobranchii, and superorder Selachii are given the 15 common name “sharks,” and 16 WHEREAS, sharks occupy the top of the aquatic food chain 17 and play a critical role in the maintenance of a healthy and 18 functioning marine ecosystem, and 19 WHEREAS, data from state, federal, and international 20 agencies show a decline in shark populations both locally and 21 worldwide, and 22 WHEREAS, the decline in shark populations is an urgent 23 problem that upsets the balance of species in marine ecosystems 24 and constitutes a serious threat to biodiversity, and 25 WHEREAS, sharks have particular characteristics that make 26 them more vulnerable to overfishing, as sharks are slow to reach 27 reproductive maturity, birth small litters, and cannot rebuild 28 their populations quickly once overfished, and 29 WHEREAS, the practice of shark finning, whereby a shark is 30 caught, the fin is cut off, and the shark is returned to the 31 water experiencing physical distress and difficulty in 32 maintaining adequate oxygenation, causes millions of sharks to 33 die a slow death by starvation, predation, suffocation, and 34 drowning each year, and 35 WHEREAS, estimates indicate that 73 million sharks are 36 killed annually as a result of shark finning, that more than a 37 third of shark species are threatened by extinction, and that 38 certain shark species have been depleted by as much as 90 39 percent, and 40 WHEREAS, the market for shark fins, a principal ingredient 41 in certain culinary delicacies, is on the rise, and 42 WHEREAS, fishers continue the practice of shark finning on 43 a massive scale despite state and federal laws that ban the 44 practice, NOW, THEREFORE, 45 46 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 47 48 Section 1. Section 379.2427, Florida Statutes, is created 49 to read: 50

379.2427 Shark finning prohibited.—

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(1) As used in this section, the term:

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(a) “Shark” means a

species of finfish in the class

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Chondrichthyes, subclass Elasmobranchii, and superorder

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Selachii

.

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(b)

“Shark fin” means the raw or dried or otherwise

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processed detached fin or tail of a shark.

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(2) A person may not possess, sell, offer for sale, trade,

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purchase, offer to purchase, ship for the purpose of sale,

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barter, exchange, or otherwise distribute a shark fin in this

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state or within the territorial waters of this state.

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(3) A person who violates this section or any rule adopted

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pursuant to this section:

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(a) Commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable

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as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083; and

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(b) Is subject to:

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1. Seizure and forfeiture of the shark fin; and

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2. An administrative fine of at least $5,000, but not more

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than $15,000, which shall be imposed by the Fish and Wildlife

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Conservation Commission.

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(c) May be assessed administrative fees and attorney fees

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and costs.

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(4) Shark fins seized by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation

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Commission under this section must be destroyed and may not be

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sold or transferred.

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(5) This section does not apply to any of the following:

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(a) A restaurant that possesses, sells, or offers for sale

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a shark fin for the purpose of consumption on the premises if

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the restaurant possessed the shark fin before July 1, 2014.

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(b) A person who detaches a shark fin or tail from a

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lawfully landed shark during the ordinary course of preparing

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the shark’s body or body parts other than the fin or tail for

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consumption, sale, trade, or distribution if the shark fin is

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disposed of immediately and not sold, exchanged, or distributed.

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(c) A person or entity that has a valid scientific permit

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for the possession of a shark fin for bona fide research or

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educational purposes.

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(d) The possession or transportation in this state of a

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shark fin for a purpose other than sale taken or caught outside

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this state and transported from a point outside this state by

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common carrier, without being unloaded in this state, to a point

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of delivery outside this state.

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(6) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may adopt

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rules to administer this section.

94 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.

The bill has been referred to the Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Criminal Justice; Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government; Appropriations

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