MIAMI (AP) – While Florida gains notoriety as the epicenter of the shark trade in the United States, lawmakers there have advanced legislation that would ban the possession of shark fins.
The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Monday endorsed that proposal, as well as another bill that would stiffen penalties against hunters who kill black bears.
The committee voted to join other states in outlawing the sale and possession of shark fins, a prized delicacy in some cultures. Earlier Monday, U.S. wildlife officials highlighted Florida’s role in the trade, announcing the seizure in Miami of 18 boxes containing 1,400 pounds of shark fins.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that the shipment of dried fins was believed to have originated in South America and was likely bound for Asia. It arrived in Miami in 18 boxes.
Officials estimate its commercial value to be between $700,000 and $1 million.
Conservation groups say tens of millions of sharks are killed each year by smugglers who cut the fins from live animals. They are often turned into shark fin soup, considered a Chinese delicacy.
Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund says action is necessary following the recent seizure.
“The seizure in Miami of 1,400 pounds of shark fins being shipped from Latin America to Asia speaks to the worldwide crisis facing sharks. Up to 73 million of these majestic animals are butchered each year for their fins. The United States plays a key role as an international transit hub for shark fins,” stated Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It is time for the U.S. Senate to pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. Sharks are worth more alive than in a bowl of soup.”