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5/4/2016 Senate passes Sosnowski bill that forbids the sale and possession of shark fins in Rhode Island
STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown) that would forbid the sale and possession of shark fins in Rhode Island.

The bill (2016-S 2676A) would prohibit the possession, sale or trade of shark fins by those without a permit and would make those in violation of the act guilty of a misdemeanor. Permits for limited purposes would be issued by the Department of Environmental Management.

“Shark finning is a barbaric and reprehensible practice,” said Senator Sosnowski. “And even though Congress banned it in 2000, there are still loopholes that allow the practice to continue. This bill would make it a crime to own or sell a shark fin except for a person conducting legitimate scientific research, or preparing a shark for ordinary consumption.”

Shark fins are considered a delicacy in the cuisine of certain cultures. Often sharks are divested of their fins and then returned to the water, where, unable to swim, they sink t the bottom and die of suffocation or are eaten by other predators. The practice has led to an endangered status for many shark species.

Shark fin soup is such a prized delicacy that as many as 100 million sharks are killed every year, according to a study in the Marine Policy Journal.

The bill would make the possession or sale of a shark fin a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or no more than 90 days in jail. A violation by a person with a commercial or recreational license would result in suspension or revocation of the license.

“Just as importantly, anti-finning laws like these may be changing young people’s view of the soup, which ultimately will have the most impact on dampening the practice and preserving the world’s sharks,” said Senator Sosnowski.

Kathryn Kullberg, director of marine and wildlife protection for the Humane Society, praised Senator Sosnowski’s legislation, saying “Overfishing of sharks is largely driven by the global market for their fins — mostly used in shark fin soup. The demand for shark fins incentivizes the cruel practice of shark finning. We’ll be glad to see the Ocean State join 10 other states in taking a stand to protect sharks worldwide.”

The bill, which is cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence), Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) and Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), now heads to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2016-H 7440) has been introduced by Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).


For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401)222-1922