by Ryan Orgera, CEO SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation)
Sharks are disappearing at an alarming rate. Every year, between 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed globally, mostly for their fins. Killing sharks for their fins is incredibly shortsighted, as sharks are worth far more to our economies alive than dead.
Florida has become the U.S. center for the shark fin trade, and our economy depends on live sharks more than any other. Shark-related tourism through diving accounts for an annual contribution of $221 million in Florida.
A recent study has shown that 71% of divers are willing to pay higher fees in order to observe sharks in the wild. The sale of shark fins account for only an annual contribution of about $340,000 to our economy; yet, many of these fisheries are unsustainable and threaten the entire shark ecotourism industry in our state.
Additionally, sharks play an important role in Florida’s sport fishing industry. Florida has the world’s largest recreational fishing economy—tag-and-release of sharks is an important draw for anglers in our state. Sharks also are invaluable in maintaining balance in our waters. Without healthy shark populations, our other important fish species will fall out of balance. Protecting shark populations is the right thing to do for our economy and our environment.
Please click here to contact the Senate Rules Committee members before 10am on Monday, March 2, and show your support for Florida’s live sharks and Senate Bill 680 that would ban the harvesting and sale of shark fins.
The committee was originally supposed to discuss SB 680 last week, but it was postponed until the March 2 meeting.
We urge you to continue to follow this issue by subscribing to SCCF’s Action Alerts and by visiting our SCCF Action Center.
SCCF is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. Learn more at sccf.org.