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Massachusetts Legislation

Sponsor(s): Rep. Jason Lewis (D-31st Middlesex)

H.B. 4088: An Act Relative to Ocean Ecology and Shark Protection [2014]

Born Free USA position: SUPPORT

Update (July 24, 2014): Victory! This bill was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick. Read our press release here.

Update (May, 2014): This bill was previously numbered HB 3571 -- the number changed when it passed the House and moved to the Senate.

This bill would restrict the possession, trade, and sale of shark fins in Massachusetts.

Shark finning is a particularly cruel practice in which people cut the fins off live sharks and return their bodies to the water where the sharks inevitably die. The animals who are cast back into the ocean suffer slow, painful deaths by drowning or blood loss.

Shark finning does not threaten just a few sharks, but 73 million sharks every year worldwide. Many of these sharks are endangered species. Sharks reach maturity later in life than other fish and have small litters of offspring, making them highly susceptible to overfishing.

Shark fins are most commonly used in shark fin soup, an Asian dish that connotes wealth and status.

Similar laws exist in New York, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Massachusetts has a large fishing industry, so the bill exempts smooth-hounds, spiny dogfish and skates from the ban due to their prominence in the state economy. Additionally, a legally caught shark may be sold as long as the fins are naturally attached to its body.

Take Action:
Massachusetts residents, thank your legislators and the governor for passing this law!

Read the full text here.

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