A bill has been introduced into the Florida legislature that looks to ban the import, export and sale of shark fins in Florida, the biggest hub of shark fin trading in the United States.
Although shark finning, which refers to the act in which the fins of a shark are cut off and the rest of the animal is discarded while still alive, is illegal in the United States, it is still prevalent andloopholes have made it nearly impossible to enforce. The global trade of fins, driven primarily bythe demand for shark fin soup in Asia, is devastating shark populations around the world and leading to the extinction of many species. Any state that supports the transport of fins through their ports and allows fins to be sold ultimately contributes to a market that is destroying a lucrative resource for many industries as well as an animal that is important to the health of our oceans and fisheries.
“Much like elephant ivory, rhino horn, and other endangered species products, the only way to
end the trade is by not allowing the possession, sale, or trade of that product,” said Stefanie
Brendl, Founder of Shark Allies. “If this bill passes, Florida will be a shining example for
conservation and protection of sharks, rather than a participant in the fin trade.”
In advance of the upcoming legislative session, Shark Allies partnered with Guy Harvey Ocean
Foundation to shine a light on the importance of sharks to Florida’s economy. Healthy shark
populations support the tourism, diving and fishing industries, directly contributing to the economy and supporting thousands of jobs. According to a study done by Oceana, income from divetourism and shark encounters in Florida alone can reach over $220 million per year, compared to just $1 million that is brought in from the exports of shark fins from the entire U.S.
The ban on shark fins in the U.S. started with a landmark bill in Hawaii in 2010 that was
spearheaded by Shark Allies’ Stefanie Brendl. The bill was the first of its kind and has since
become model legislation for 12 other U.S. states, 3 territories and many Pacific Island Nations.
One of the main organizations pushing the bill forward is Shark Allies whom are 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of sharks and rays. Founded by Stefanie Brendl in 2007, Shark Allies focuses on taking action, raising awareness and guiding initiatives that reduce the destructive overfishing of sharks on a global scale. For more information, please visit their website here.