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Legislation to Increase Penalties on Shark Finners Awaits Governors Signature

May 22nd, 2017 by Jake Stofan
A bill on Governor Rick Scott’s desk seeks to discourage the illegal practice of shark finning off Florida’s coast, but some marine activists say it doesn’t go far enough.
Shark Fin Soup is an expensive delicacy in Asian countries like China and Japan.
To feed their appetite, Shark landings have tripled since the1950’s.
The over-fishing has taken a toll on the global shark population.
Jack Rudloe owns Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratories in Panacea.
He says if sharks aren’t thriving, the rest of the ocean’s ecosystem is sure to follow.
“If you don’t have apex predators thinning things out then you get a proliferation of diseases that come in and parasites,” said Rudloe.
Legislation sent the Governor would raise the fine for finning from $500 to $4,500.
Poachers also face 60 days in jail and a 180 day suspension of their saltwater license.
The penalties increase each time a person is caught. A third offense permanently suspends a person’s salt water license.
“The fines were almost negligible before and now they’re up to $10,000 and the almost immediate loss of your commercial fishing license. So i do hope that the combination will help to deter this practice,” said the bill’s House Sponsor, Represenative Alexandra Miller.
Although marine activists support the idea of increased penalties on shark finners, they don’t believe this bill will have a significant impact on the global trade.
“The United States is not the problem. Asia is the problem. The Chinese fisheries are the problem,” said Rudloe.
Rudloe says there needs to be a major dietary change in Asia where the fins are highly coveted for boosting sexual potency, preventing heart disease, and lowering cholesterol.
The Governor has until Wednesday to sign the legislation, let it become law, or veto it.

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