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6/24/2016 Governor signs bill that forbids the sale and possession of shark fins into law
STATE HOUSE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown) and Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) to forbid the sale and possession of shark fins in Rhode Island.

The law (2016-S 2676A, 2016-H 7440) prohibits the possession, sale or trade of shark fins by those without a permit and makes those in violation of the act guilty of a misdemeanor. Permits for limited purposes will be issued by the Department of Environmental Management.

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 to 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 law makes 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.

Kathryn Kullberg, director of marine and wildlife protection for the Humane Society, praised the 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.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903