Update on Maryland Shark Fin Trade Bill

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Update on the Maryland Shark Fin Bill.

On March 22, S.B. 465 — a bill  introduced by Senator Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, banning  the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins — passed in the Senate 42 to 4.

Yesterday,  the Maryland House of Delegates passed H.B. 393 on a 115-7 vote. The legislation was introduced by Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery.

“Although Maryland fishermen are not engaged in ‘finning’ of sharks, the market in Maryland for shark fins fuels the unsustainable trade and the inhumane and wasteful practice in waters with lax shark protection laws,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for the Humane Society of the US. “House Bill 1148 makes a strong statement that Maryland will no longer participate in this market," she said.

Customs data indicates exports of shark products, mainly dogfish, are exported from Washington and Norfolk. Although no shark fins passed through the Port of Baltimore in recent years, a 2012 article in the Baltimore Sun noted that shark products were still being imported for the Chinese market.

Last year, some 800 kilos of shark products valued at $70,000 were exported from the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Maryland bill makes exceptions for museums and for the state's shark fisherman, who are allowed to continue landing whole sharks. It would still allow shark fishing, and fins may still be used for food — but they may not be offered separate from the rest of the shark. This means that a restaurant in Maryland may still serve shark fin soup, but it will have to purchase the entire shark.

If passed by the Maryland General Assembly before it adjourns on April 9th,   Maryland will join the states of Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, California and Illinois and three U.S. territories in the South Pacific that prohibit the shark fin trade.