Shark Finning Legislation

Shark Finning Legislation - Photo by AWI

Currently, there are 12 states and three US territories that control shark finning by controlling the sale and possession of shark fins. Although the states have varied exceptions and statutory penalties for violations, all the bans make it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute shark fins within that jurisdiction.

Hawaii (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 188-40.7)

Prohibits the “possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: July 1, 2010
  • Statutory Penalties: for 1st offense, fine of $5,000 to $15,000; for 3rd offense, fine of $35,000 to $50,000 and up to 1 year in prison

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (PL 17-27)

Prohibits the “possession, selling, offering for sale, trading, or distributing shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: January 26, 2011
  • Statutory Penalties: fine of $5,000 to $30,000 and up to 6 months in prison

Guam (5 G.C.A. § 63114.1)

Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, take, purchase, barter, transport, export, import, trade or distribute shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: March 9, 2011
  • Statutory Penalties: felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and fines of  $500 to $5,000 per violation

American Samoa (24 A.S.A.C. § 24.0961)

Prohibits the “possession, delivery, carry, transport or shipment” of shark products

  • Date Effective: November 1, 2012
  • Statutory Penalties: Class B misdemeanor for each offense, punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 6 months in prison; a business entity in violation is subject to at least a $1000 fine

Washington (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 77.15.770)

Prohibits the “sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: Aug. 1, 2012
  • Statutory Penalties: for 1st offense, a gross misdemeanor punishable by suspension of commercial fishing privileges for 1 year; for 2nd offense, a Class C felony if the shark fin is worth more than $250, punishable by suspension of commercial fishing privileges for 1 year

Oregon (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 498.257)

Prohibits “possessing, selling, offering for sale, trading or distributing shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: January 1, 2012
  • Statutory Penalties: Class A misdemeanor; for 1st offense, fine of up to $2,500

California (Cal. Fish & Game Code Ann. § 2021-2021.5)

Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.” 

  • Date Effective: July 1, 2013
  • Statutory Penalties: up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine per offense

Maryland (Md. Nat. Res. Code Ann. § 4-747)

Bans the “sale, purchase and transportation of sharkfins without the shark’s carcass.”

  • Date Effective: October 1, 2013
  • Statutory Penalties: for 1st offense, fine of up to $1,000; for 2nd offense, fine of up to $2,000 and up to 1 year in prison

Illinois (Il. Fish & Aq. Life Code Ann. § 5-30)

Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.”

  • Date Effective: January 1, 2013
  • Statutory Penalties: Class A misdemeanor where shark is valued at less than $300 is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and 1 year in prison, or Class 3 or 4 felony where shark is valued at more than $300, is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison

Delaware (Del. Code Ann. tit. 7 § 928A)

Bans the“possession, sale, offer for sale, and distribution of shark fins.

  • Date Effective: May 1, 2014
  • Statutory Penalties: Class B environmental misdemeanor for each offense, punishable by a fine of $250 to $1,000.

New York (N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 13-0338)

Prohibits the “possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins without the shark's carcass.”

  • Date Effective: July 1, 2014
  • Statutory Penalties: imprisonment up to 15 days or minimum fine of $250

Massachusetts (MA Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 130 § 106)

Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute a shark fin.”

  • Date Effective: September 1, 2014
  • Statutory Penalties: fine of $500 to $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail, as well as possible suspension of all fishing privileges

Texas (Section 66.2161, Parks and Wildlife Code)

Prohibits “possession, sale and purchase of shark fins or products derived from shark fins.”

  • Date Effective: July 1, 2016
  • Statutory Penalties: Class B misdemeanor, for 1st offense; Class A for additional offense within five years

Rhode Island (RI Gen. Laws § 20-1-29)

Prohibits any person from participating in the “sale, possession, trade and distribution of shark fins” in the state.

  • Date Effective: July 1, 2017
  • Statutory Penalties: fine minimum of $500 and no more than $1,000, or imprisonment up to 90 days, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Nevada (NV NRS CH. 597 § 2-3)

Makes it illegal to “purchase, sell, offer for sale or possess with intent to sell any item” made with shark fins.

  • Date Effective: January 1, 2018
  • Statutory Penalties: First offense is a misdemeanor, second offense is guilty of category E felony, and third offense and all subsequent offenses are a category D felony. Following all criminal charges is a civil penalty not to exceed $6,500 or “an amount equal to four times the fair market value of the item which is the subject of the violation, whichever is greater.”