Shark Fishing Threat 

Dec 11, 2019

To the Editor:

On Nov. 25, the New Jersey Assembly voted 54-19 to prohibit “certain possession, sale, trade, distribution, or offering for sale of shark fins.” The idea that foreign nations senselessly slaughter sharks by the thousands, harvesting fins at sea while dumping the unprocessed carcasses overboard, is grossly unsettling to everyone. However, here in the U.S. the practice of “shark finning” has been federally prohibited for years. 

That, of course, hasn’t stopped the state of New Jersey from furthering an ideological agenda to protect sharks at the expense of certain inalienable rights. 

Saltwater anglers are allowed to legally harvest sharks of specified size and species for home consumption. What they do with the fins from the shark after the meat is processed for the table – discarding, hanging at the dock or using for soup – should be up to the angler to choose. Yet the new law already approved by the New Jersey Senate in a 33-6 vote should effectively change that, while taking yet another step toward criminalizing shark fishing in the Garden State. 

As written and approved by the Legislature, this new state law states, “The burden of proof shall be on the person in possession of the shark fin to demonstrate that it was not separated from the shark prior to its lawful landing.” Failure to prove that the shark fin on your wall came from a shark you’ve already consumed and digested will now result in a fine starting at $5,000. 

In other words, Gov. Phil Murphy has the unique distinction of passing a law that upends the due process clause, thereby eliminating presumption of innocence for recreational fishermen in New Jersey. More specifically, New Jersey anglers are no longer entitled to rights granted to all other Americans by the U.S. Constitution. 

Jim Hutchinson Jr.

Brick Township, N.J.


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