The House and Senate voted unanimously in favor of a banning the import and export of shark fins in the state.
Now, a leading voice in the anti-finning movement is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to put pen to paper and sign make SB 680 law.
“Making it through all six committees and ending up with a victory for sharks is something most people believed would never happen. There is more work to be done but ending the imports of fins immediately is a massive accomplishment and a bold first step in the right direction” said Stefanie Brendl, Executive Director of Shark Allies.
Shark Allies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of sharks and rays.
Shark finning is the process of catching a shark, removing its fins and discarding the shark. Shark finners usually drop the body back into the ocean, where the shark bleeds to death or drowns because it can no longer swim properly. The fins fetch a hefty price on the black market where they are most often sold to Asian countries.
Finning is a major contributor to the declining population of several species, and therefore of particular concern to Shark Allies. While finning is illegal nationwide, trading in disembodied fins is not. According to Shark Allies, Florida is currently the biggest hub of shark fin trading in the United States.
Miami in particular is a hot spot for the fin trade. As the gateway to South America, tons of fins flow in from Central and South America on their way to Asia.
In February alone, 1,400 pounds of illegal shark fins, valued at nearly $1 million, were seized in Miami. The new law effectively removes Florida from the trade by banning the import of all shark fins. The bill does carve out fishermen with federal shark fishing permits.
The bill was a priority of Rep. Kristin Jacobs, and the bill was amended to name it in her honor. Earlier this week, she thanked Shark Allies for their advocacy effort.
In addition to banning the trade in state law, the bill directs the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to study whether locally supplied fins should also be banned in the future.
“With the above in mind, we proudly endorse this bill and encourage Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign it into law,” Brendl said.
Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski contributed to this post.