Thursday, September 24, 2020

Florida SB 680 - Shark Fin Ban is Signed into Law

Florida SB 680, a Shark Fin Ban Bill, was signed by the governor and is now law in the Sunshine State!  This is a game-changer because Florida had become the shark fin trade hub of the United States. As other states outlawed fin possession, Florida became the "loophole state". On Friday, September 18th, 2020 a giant stride forward was made for shark protection within the United States and beyond.

Sea Save Foundation has been enlisting your efforts since 2011 when we helped shepherd the California Shark bill, AB 376, through the legislative process and into law.  This strong piece of legislation has served as a template for many other states whose elected officials followed with state shark conservation/no fin laws.  Sea Save Foundation has raised awareness about the dangers of shark finning and created a pathway to engage the legislative process.  Once conservationists are armed with factual information and have easy access to their elected decision-makers, it becomes possible to advocate and impact the outcome of how elected officials vote. If legislators support shark and ocean conservation bills, these bills become law.  Our direct email tool was the platform used by thousands of concerned citizens to make their voices heard: "We must protect sharks and stop unsustainable finning." Our voices were heard and resulted in this law. 
Sea Save Foundation leaders have been working to stop shark fining since 1993 when our photos documenting finning at Cocos Island first appeared in newspapers across Costa Rica. Since then we have been working to stop shark finning internationally and within the United States.  Our critical work at CITES and across the United States has made a huge impact, but we are not finished.

Kristin Jacobs introduced SB 680 to the Florida House of Representatives on October 28th, 2019.  She was passionate about protecting sharks and also the long-term economy of her home state. She was the elected official who spearheaded this effort.  Unfortunately, Representative Jacobs lost her battle with cancer on April 11, 2020, just a few months shy of this victory. In deference to her leadership, this bill was renamed the Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act.

SB 680 is a great victory, but it came with a cost.  The bill was diluted due to the successful efforts of a strong fishing lobby.  We had the option to abandon the bill but strategically decided to take this opportunity to begin strengthening shark conservation in Florida. But we will not rest until the senseless and unsustainable shark fin practice has been stopped completely.