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Washington

West's Revised Code of Washington Annotated. Title 77. Fish and Wildlife. Chapter 77.15. Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code. 77.15.770. Unlawful trade in shark fins--Penalty

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: RCWA 77.15.770

Citation: WA ST 77.15.770


Last Checked by Web Center Staff: 10/2013

Summary:   Under this Washington statute, it is unlawful to trade in shark fins, with exceptions. A person is guilty in the second degree (gross misdemeanor) if s/he sells, purchases, or processes a shark fin for commercial purposes. A person is guilty of unlawful trade in shark fins in the first degree (class C felony) if the act involves shark fins with a total market value of $250 or more, or acted with knowledge that the shark fin originated from a shark that was illegally caught.


Statute in Full:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person is guilty of unlawful trade in shark fins in the second degree if:

(a) The person sells, offers for sale, purchases, offers to purchase, or otherwise exchanges a shark fin or shark fin derivative product for commercial purposes; or

(b) The person prepares or processes a shark fin or shark fin derivative product for human or animal consumption for commercial purposes.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person is guilty of unlawful trade in shark fins in the first degree if:

(a) The person commits the act described by subsection (1) of this section and the violation involves shark fins or a shark fin derivative product with a total market value of two hundred fifty dollars or more;

(b) The person commits the act described by subsection (1) of this section and acted with knowledge that the shark fin or shark fin derivative product originated from a shark that was harvested in an area or at a time where or when the harvest was not legally allowed or by a person not licensed to harvest the shark; or

(c) The person commits the act described by subsection (1) of this section and the violation occurs within five years of entry of a prior conviction under this section or a prior conviction for any other gross misdemeanor or felony under this title involving fish, other than a recreational fishing violation.

(3)(a) Unlawful trade in shark fins in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the department shall suspend any commercial fishing privileges for the person that requires a license under this title for a period of one year.

(b) Unlawful trade in shark fins in the first degree is a class C felony. Upon conviction, the department shall suspend any commercial fishing privileges for the person that requires a license under this title for a period of one year.

(4) Any person who obtains a license or permit issued by the department to take or possess sharks or shark parts for bona fide research or educational purposes, and who sells, offers for sale, purchases, offers to purchase, or otherwise trades a shark fin or shark fin derivative product, exclusively for bona fide research or educational purposes, may not be held liable under or subject to the penalties of this section.

(5) Nothing in this section prohibits the sale, offer for sale, purchase, offer to purchase, or other exchange of shark fins or shark fin derivative products for commercial purposes, or preparation or processing of shark fins or shark fin derivative products for purposes of human or animal consumption for commercial purposes, if the shark fins or shark fin derivative products were lawfully harvested or lawfully acquired prior to July 22, 2011.

CREDIT(S)

[2011 c 324 § 2, eff. July 22, 2011.]

<(Formerly: Game and Game Fish)>

HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES

Findings--2011 c 324: “The legislature finds and declares the following:

(1) The practice of shark finning, where a shark is caught, its fins are sliced off while it is still alive, and the animal returned to the sea severely and almost always fatally wounded, constitutes a serious threat to Washington's coastal ecosystem and biodiversity. Sharks are particularly susceptible to overfishing because they only reach sexual maturity between seven to twelve years of age and hatch or birth small litters. The destruction of the population of sharks, which reside at the top of the marine food chain, is an urgent problem that upsets the balance of species in the ocean ecosystem.

(2) Shark finning condemns millions of sharks every year to slow, painful deaths. Returned to the water without their fins, the maimed sharks are attacked by other predators or drown, because most shark species must swim in order to push water through their gills. Shark finning is therefore a cruel practice contrary to the good morals of the citizens of the state of Washington.

(3) The market for shark fins drives the brutal practice of shark finning. Shark finning and trade in shark fins and shark fin derivative products are occurring all along the Pacific Coast, including the state of Washington.

(4) The consumption of shark fins and shark fin derivative products by humans may cause serious health risks, including risks from mercury.” [2011 c 324 § 1.]

 



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