This bill would make it illegal to possess, trade, distribute, sell, or purchase shark fins in the U.S. and also prohibit their import or export. It would also establish penalties for shark finning under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Under current law, shark finning — the practice of cutting off the fins of a shark to sell them as food — is illegal in U.S. waters and has been since 2000, though buying, selling, or possessing shark fins is allowed. After the fins are removed, oftentimes the shark is thrown back into the sea where it will drown, bleed to death, or be eaten by other ocean creatures.
There would be an exemption for people who have a shark fin that was obtained legally under a state, territorial, or federal license as long as the fin is taken from the shark to be:
Destroyed or discarded;
Retained by the license holder and not sold;
Used — but not sold — for subsistence purposes in compliance with state or territorial law;
Used solely for display or research purposes by a museum, college, university, or other person granted a permit to conduct scientific research.