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Relating to the sale and purchase of shark fins or products derived from shark fins; creating a criminal offense.
HB 1579 would add a new section to Chapter 66 of the Parks and Wildlife Code that regulates the sale or purchase of shark fins. Specifically, it would prohibit a person from possessing shark fins for any purpose. However, it would allow a person to buy or sell a shark carcass, but only if the tail and fins are attached at the time of the sale.
This legislation would allow the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to issue permits for a person to possess shark fins, however this would only be for scientific research.
HB 1579 would give the warden or a police officer the authority to hold any shark fins as evidence if they are in violation of the new provisions of this bill.
Finally, this bill would issue criminal penalties for persons who are convicted for illegally possessing shark fins. It would be a Class B Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor if a person commits an offense. The penalty could be bumped up to a Class A Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor if a person commits two or more shark fin violations within a five year period.
The Senate committee did not make changes to this legislation. However, the final engrossed version from the House added provisions that would clarify that it would not be illegal to possess shark fins from fishing. We are glad this clarification was added, however we still view this legislation as bad towards our liberty principles because it is duplicative of federal laws. For this reason, we still oppose HB 1579. The Senate chamber sponsor is Senator Lucio.
First chamber recommendation:
In the 83rd Legislative session, HB 852 attempted to ban the possession of shark fins, however the way it was written left room for broad interpretation. We opposed that legislation because it would of outlawed shark fishing, which was not, and to this day is not, illegal.
Additionally, we found HB 852 to be unnecessary because it would make the laws redundant because the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 already addressed shark finning issues at the federal level. Ultimately, HB 852 was withdrawn from the Senate floor after having passed the House.
By clarifying that a person may buy, sell, or possess a shark carcass that has its fins and tail attached this legislation is more narrowly crafted than its predecessor from the 83rd Legislative Session.
However, HB 1579 would still implement new rules and regulations at the state level to address a practice that is already prohibited by the federal government. In other words, this bill is duplicative of federal laws, so the purpose of this bill is moot.
We do not support HB 1579 because it needlessly grows government.