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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 28, 2020 11:00 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Stopping People From Sawing-off Sharks’ Fins and Letting Them Suffocate and Bleed to Death
In the near future I will reintroduce legislation to ban the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins, which are often harvested using a practice called “shark-finning.” Shark-finning involves catching sharks, sawing off their fins, and then discarding the sharks back into the ocean while they are still alive, at which point they drown, sink, and die. The practice is extremely gruesome and wasteful.

Shark populations have declined by as much as 90% due to overfishing. Many shark species are in danger of extinction and their absence poses a catastrophic threat to ocean ecosystems. As a peak predator, sharks maintain the balance of species required for a healthy ocean. Healthy populations of sharks also have a direct link to seafood sustainability, such as stocks of scallops and oysters along the East Coast, which impacts food availability for local businesses and markets. Additionally, sharks are extremely valuable when they are alive due to ecotourism. Shark ecotourism produces $314 million in annual worldwide revenue and is expected to continue growing. There are more than 40 dive shops in operation within Pennsylvania alone.

While shark finning is illegal under federal law, the possession of shark fins is not. The market for shark fins is what drives their brutal treatment and the over-fishing that accompanies it. Pennsylvania may be a landlocked state, but shark fins are imported every day. We can discourage the practice of shark-finning by prohibiting the fruits of this cruel trade.

A dozen states, including New York, Maryland and most recently New Jersey, have already adopted state shark fin bans. In November of 2019, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (a federal bill prohibiting the import, export, possession, trade, and distribution of shark fins) passed in the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 310 to 107 and went on to the Senate for a vote. Additionally, Canada became the first G7 country to ban the import and sale of shark fins last February.

This bill was known as SB 340 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session, SB 264 of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session and SB 577 of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session. It unanimously passed the Judiciary Committee in April of 2015 and April 2017 and passed the Senate unanimously in May of 2015. Previous co-sponsors include Senators Farnese, Brewster, Tartaglione, Schwank, Sabatina, Browne, Boscola, and Costa.

Please help me in supporting this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1038