Update on Shark Fin Trade Bill -- Texas

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texas

In March, Texas State Senator Larry Taylor,filed Senate Bill 572 banning the trade in shark fins. Last week, the companion bill, H.B. 852, filed by Representative Eddie Lucio III, was passed by the Texas house.

Texas  is a key state because traders use its ports to traffic fins. Shark fin trade bans exist in five other states including California, Hawaii and Illinois. The practice of removing shark fins — known as finning — was made illegal under the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and Shark Conservation Act of 2010.

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A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT

Relating to the sale and purchase of shark fins or products derived from shark fins, creating an offense.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS

SECTION 1.  Section 66.216, Parks and Wildlife Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 66.216. POSSESSION OF HEADED OR TAILED FISH

(a) No person may possess a finfish of any species taken from coastal waters, except broadbill swordfish or king mackerel, that has the head removed unless the fish has been finally processed and delivered to the final destination or to a certified wholesale or retail dealer.

(b) No person may possess a finfish of any species taken from coastal water, except broadbill swordfish or king mackerel that has the tail removed unless the fish has been finally processed and delivered to the final destination or to a certified wholesale or retail dealer.

SECTION 2.  Subchapter C, Chapter 66, Parks and Wildlife Code, is amended by addition Section 66.2161 to read as follows:  Sec. 66.2161. SALE OR PURCHASE OF SHARK FINS.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Shark” means any species of the subclass Elasmobranchii

(2). “Shark fins” means the fresh and uncooked, or cooked, frozen, dried, or otherwise processed. Fin or tail of a shark.

(b). A person may not buy or offer to buy, sell or offer to sell, possess for the purpose of sale, transport, or ship for the purpose of sale, barter, or exchange a shark fin.

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), this section applies to:

(1)   the possession or transportation of any shark fin with the intent to sell the fin regardless of where the shark was taken or caught, and

(2)   the sale or purchase of any shark fin regardless of where the shark as taken or caught.

(d) This section does not apply to the possession or transportation in this state of a shark fin taken or caught outside this state by common carrier without being unloaded in this state to a point of delivery outside this state.

(e) Notwithstanding Subsection (b), the department may issue a permit for the possession, transport, sale, or purchase of shark fins for a bona fide scientific research purpose.

(f) When a person is charged with violating this section, the warden or other peace officer shall seize and hold the shark fin as evidence. Nothwithstanding Section 12.109, on a final court ruling, the department shall destroy the shark fin.

 SECTION 3. Section 66.218, Parks and Wildlife Code, is amended by addition Subsections (c and (d) to read as follows:

c)  A person who violates Section 66.2161 or a proclamation adopted under that section commits an offense that is a Class B Parks and Wildlife misdemeanor.

(d)  If it is shown at trial for a violation of Section 66.2161 or a proclamation adopted under that section that the defendant has been convicted within five years before the trail date of a violation of that section, on conviction the defendant shall be punished for a Class A Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor.

SECTION 4. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this act is governed by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.

 SECTION 5. This Act takes effect July 1, 2014.