Florida: It's Time to Do More to Protect Sharks

Floridians depend on the ocean. And we understand. It's in your blood.

Florida's waters weave themselves into the daily life of most who call this state home and with so much to offer, it's easy to understand why. In addition to supporting recreation, fishing and the local economy, the oceans are home to a diverse array of life.

But we cannot keep taking without giving back. Suffering from overfishing, pollution and climate change, the oceans are in trouble and they need our help. One species that has been hit hardest by these devastating issues, especially off the coast of Florida, is sharks. Although sharks have been on this planet for more than 400 million years, their numbers are now plummeting, and the consequences are yet to be fully understood.

Luckily, the sunshine state has started to recognize how vital shark conservation is to protecting ocean life. Just recently, the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to add protections for several sharks, including tiger and scalloped hammerheads. For ocean advocates like us, this is great news.

But there's still work to be done. Florida should follow in the footsteps of other states like Maryland, Virginia and Illinois, and implement a ban on the shark fin trade. Shark finning involves the cruel and destructive practice of cutting off a shark's fins while its body is often thrown overboard where it is left to die.

Did you know that it's currently legal in Florida to sell, possess and distribute shark fins? This needs to change.

Floridians know how important the oceans are to the health of their community, and with more than 1,100 miles of coastline to its name, Florida has an opportunity to live up to its reputation in protecting sharks and the ocean ecosystems they call home.

If you're as passionate about saving sharks and protecting the waters they live in as we are, then join us at Oceana's inaugural 'SeaBlue' event at W Fort Lauderdale on March 3. Only through working together can we help ensure that future generations inherit healthy oceans.

Visit www.seablueevent.org to learn more about this exciting event. Help save sharks. Help save the oceans.