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Lawmakers Could Put More Teeth In Shark Finning Law

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - A measure that would increase fines and suspend licenses for people who violate a state law about the illegal possession of shark fins is poised for approval by the Florida Senate next week.

Federal law prohibits finning in the United States.

State law requires sharks harvested in Florida waters to be brought ashore in a whole condition. People illegally in possession of shark fins face a second-degree misdemeanor carrying a fine up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, would increase the fine to $4,500 and add a six-month suspension of a person's saltwater license on a first offense. A second violation would bump the fine to $9,500 with a one-year license suspension. Licenses would be permanently revoked on a third offense.

A similar House proposal has been unanimously supported by two panels and awaits an appearance before the Government Accountability Committee.

Shark fins are considered a delicacy in parts of Asia.

A federal rule outlaws the removal of the fins of a shark, including the tail, at sea or to bring on land a fin that is not attached to the carcass of a shark. However, a Senate staff report noted that while the practice of shark finning is prohibited in the U.S., trade in shark fins is legal.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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