Public Policy Alert: Support HB 99 (SB 352) to Protect Florida's Marine Ecosystem & Shark Population
Monday, March 11, 2019
HB 99 and SB 352 - An Act Relating to Shark Fins and Ray Parts
As divers we understand that sharks are necessary to maintaining the health of the reefs and oceans. Divers are excited to encounter living sharks, and many seek opportunities to dive and observe these important creatures. We look forward to interactions with sharks, knowing that many species are at risk.
HB 99 and its companion senate bill SB 352 have been introduced in Florida to prohibit the purchase or offer to purchase, sale or offer to sell, and possession for the purpose of transporting, shipping, or otherwise distributing for sale, barter, or exchange, a shark fin or ray part regardless of where the shark or ray was landed or taken.
Exceptions to the prohibitions are made for shark fins and ray parts lawfully obtained on land, prepared by taxidermy and possessed for purpose of display, as well as those in possession because they are authorized by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) rule, or lawfully landed and retained for personal non-commercial use. An exception is also made for possession for scientific research or educational purpose. Substantial penalties exist for violation of the law if enacted by this bill.
These bills seek to protect sharks and rays by prohibiting commerce connected to shark fins and ray parts. The bills do not unnecessarily interfere with recreational fishing but are being opposed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) as the FWC seeks to protect commercial fishing interests in the state, including the commercial sale of shark fins.
DEMA staff recommends supporting these bills as they make it abundantly clear that shark finning and killing of sharks for this purpose should not be acceptable.
It should be noted that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission does NOT support HB 99 or SB 352. FWC has indicated that these bills conflict with the Commission’s existing regulation and management of shark and ray species and marine fisheries. By opposing these bills, FWC is backing the commercial and recreational fishing interests, rather than protecting the Florida shark population.
What can you do?
- You can write to your Florida Senator and Representative and tell them to support these bills. A link is provided here and below for your convenience. Simply provide your information so you can write directly to your senator or representative. DEMA has also provided sample verbiage you can use at these links, or you can write your own note to your lawmakers.
- You can attend Dive In Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee on March 19, 2019 and speak directly to your lawmakers in person. DEMA has organized Dive In Day at the Capitol to help the diving industry in Florida make a greater impact with lawmakers, and to help legislators understand the importance of the diving industry in Florida. Contact Emily Bolde at email@example.com for more information.
DEMA strongly urges members of the diving community to participate in this legislative process to get these bills passed.
If you cannot attend Dive in Day, please consider submitting comments directly to your Senator and Representative.
Should you receive a response from your legislator, please let DEMA know by forwarding them to firstname.lastname@example.org.