BOSTON- The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday, June 19 passed a bill banning the sale, trade or possession of shark fins, often used in many delicacies, in the Commonwealth. Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), a former Massachusetts environmental police officer, was a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“The practice of shark finning is inhumane and has devastating consequences for our ocean’s ecosystem. As a predator, sharks are at or near the top of the marine food chain and serve to ensure the vitality of our oceans. Due to a high demand for shark fins, these illegal fisheries are cutting off the fins, often with the animal still alive, and then throwing them back into the water where they cannot swim, often dying from shock, blood loss or starvation. This bill, which does not create any additional burden among law-abiding fishermen and women in Massachusetts, will help bring an end to this cruel practice,” said Senator Moore.

An Act Relative to Ocean Ecology and Shark Protection eliminates Massachusetts’ role in the global shark fin market by banning the sale, trade or possession of shark fins. Shark finning refers to the practice of removing a shark’s fins while the remainder of the living shark is cast-off into the ocean, unable to swim and left to die.

Scientists warn that sharks are being over-exploited and many species face the threat of extinction. Research has shown that the extinction of sharks, the apex underwater predator, will have a significant impact on the entire ocean ecosystem, which will create a negative impact on the commercial fishing industry.

The legislation exempts smooth-hound and spiny dogfish and skates from the ban, as they are species of sharks caught sustainably by local fisheries. The bill also does not prevent fishers from selling legally caught whole shark, regardless of the species, with its fins naturally attached.

The bill will now be sent to Governor Deval Patrick for his consideration to sign the bill into law.