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.
   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,
   46  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   48         Section 1. Section 379.2427, Florida Statutes, is created
   49  to read:
   50         379.2427 Shark finning prohibited.—
   51         (1) As used in this section, the term:
   52         (a) “Shark” means a species of finfish in the class
   53  Chondrichthyes, subclass Elasmobranchii, and superorder
   54  Selachii.
   55         (b)“Shark fin” means the raw or dried or otherwise
   56  processed detached fin or tail of a shark.
   57         (2) A person may not possess, sell, offer for sale, trade,
   58  purchase, offer to purchase, ship for the purpose of sale,
   59  barter, exchange, or otherwise distribute a shark fin in this
   60  state or within the territorial waters of this state.
   61         (3) A person who violates this section or any rule adopted
   62  pursuant to this section:
   63         (a) Commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable
   64  as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083; and
   65         (b) Is subject to:
   66         1. Seizure and forfeiture of the shark fin; and
   67         2. An administrative fine of at least $5,000, but not more
   68  than $15,000, which shall be imposed by the Fish and Wildlife
   69  Conservation Commission.
   70         (c) May be assessed administrative fees and attorney fees
   71  and costs.
   72         (4) Shark fins seized by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation
   73  Commission under this section must be destroyed and may not be
   74  sold or transferred.
   75         (5) This section does not apply to any of the following:
   76         (a) A restaurant that possesses, sells, or offers for sale
   77  a shark fin for the purpose of consumption on the premises if
   78  the restaurant possessed the shark fin before July 1, 2014.
   79         (b) A person who detaches a shark fin or tail from a
   80  lawfully landed shark during the ordinary course of preparing
   81  the shark’s body or body parts other than the fin or tail for
   82  consumption, sale, trade, or distribution if the shark fin is
   83  disposed of immediately and not sold, exchanged, or distributed.
   84         (c) A person or entity that has a valid scientific permit
   85  for the possession of a shark fin for bona fide research or
   86  educational purposes.
   87         (d) The possession or transportation in this state of a
   88  shark fin for a purpose other than sale taken or caught outside
   89  this state and transported from a point outside this state by
   90  common carrier, without being unloaded in this state, to a point
   91  of delivery outside this state.
   92         (6) The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may adopt
   93  rules to administer this section.
   94         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.