Beginning Friday, the sale, purchase or possession with intent to sell shark fins in Texas will be a criminal offense that could result in jail time and a fine.
State Rep. Eddie Lucio III’s second attempt to strengthen the prohibition of the federally outlawed practice of shark finning was signed into law last year, making Texas the 10th state to target a black market trade that the Save our Seas Foundation estimates kills 73 million sharks annually. The conservation organization Oceana estimates that half of the shark-fin trade in the U.S. is funneled through Texas.
Finning is the wasteful practice of catching a shark, cutting off its fins, then discarding the dying fish. Officials say this is done mostly by profiteers taking advantage of a thriving Asian and domestic demand for shark-fin soup. Arguments heard when the bill was debated in Austin last year suggested the shark fin market in Texas has grown 240 percent since 2010, according to the Texas Legislature Online website.