Advocates are urging Florida wildlife officials to back federal legislation banning the sale of shark fins. But some think prohibition could be counterproductive.
Mote Marine Lab researcher Bob Hueter vehemently opposes shark finning—the practice of cutting off the fins and throwing the animal back into the water. He says Florida prohibited finning in 1992, and he applauds legislation this year imposing stiffer penalties.
But Hueter worries banning the fins themselves could do more harm than good.
“By making a commercially valuable product illegal,” he says, “a domestic fin ban could actually lead to the destruction of the model fishery that we’ve worked so hard to achieve over the last 25 years.”
Heuter believes shark fishers play an important role in conservation, and prohibiting the sale of fins could put them out of business.
Environmental groups like Oceana point to the ban on ivory, contending US action will drive other countries to stop finning.