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Bill banning shark fin trade introduced in Massachusetts House

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July 12, 2013

By Nick Katers

Massachusetts

BOSTON, Massachusetts: Rep. Jason Lewis (D) submitted a bill to the Massachusetts House of Representatives last week that would ban shark-fin trading in Massachusetts.[1] Docket HD3696 has been referred by the House Rules Committee to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture for further consideration.[2] Shark fins are considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia and used by a small number of restaurants in major cities like Boston. Lewis notes that he consulted with local fishermen while developing the legislation to avoid regulation of legitimate fisheries practices.[1]

HD3696 shares similar aims to legislation introduced by Rep. David Nangle (D) in the House in January. H1520 prohibits the practice of “finning," which involves removing a shark's fins and dumping the remains of the body back in the water. Nangle’s legislation also creates penalties up to 60 days in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000 for those convicted of “finning” off the Massachusetts coast. The Joint Committee of the Judiciary held hearings on Tuesday regarding H1520.[3]

Lewis’s proposal prohibits the sale, exchange and ownership of shark fins in order to protect sharks throughout the world. A vigorous trade in shark fins continues in major port cities in the United States despite federal efforts to ban the practice. The U.S. Congress approved the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which prohibited the removal of shark fins in American waters and by operators of vessels registered in the United States.[4] Lewis argues that banning shark fins in Massachusetts would decrease consumer demand that encourages foreign-registered vessels to maintain the practice.[1]

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