Illinois Conservation Police Cite Businesses Selling Shark Fin Products

Enforcement of state law helps protect shark populations throughout the world

SPRINGFIELD, IL–(ENEWSPF)–March 4, 2014.  Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police have issued 20 citations to four businesses in northern Illinois for selling shark fin products.  The citations were issued on February 28, 2014 as part of a continuing effort to enforce a state law banning the sale, trade or distribution of shark fins in Illinois.

“Even though Illinois is far from the ocean, our Conservation Police Officers still play an important role in the protection and sustainability of these magnificent animals,” said Rafael Gutierrez, chief of the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement.

In late 2013, Illinois CPOs purchased shark fin items from six different businesses in Chicago.  Items included shark fin soup advertised on a restaurant menu; four cans of shark fin soup; three packages of frozen shark fin; and, three dried shark fin soup kits. The soup kits suspected of containing shark fins were taken to The Field Museum in Chicago for DNA analysis. Testing confirmed the presence of shark DNA from the Carcharhinid family, a group of sharks with about 50 species worldwide. 

On February 28, officers returned to those businesses to issue citations and to check for additional violations. Four businesses and their owners were cited for unlawful commercialization of shark fin and operating a fish market without a Resident Retail Aquatic Life Dealer license. Two businesses and their owners will be issued citations when they return from China for items purchased in 2013.  During the February check, 22 cans of shark fin soup were seized along with 11 packages of frozen shark fin. Packaging indicated the fins were from blue sharks. Those additional items are awaiting DNA analysis. 

To date, officers have issued 12 shark fin citations documenting a total of 80 violations, and issued an additional eight citations for failure to have a Resident Retail Aquatic Life Dealer license. Thirty-three shark fin items were seized, including 11 packages of frozen shark fins labeled as blue shark and 22 cans of shark fin soup. Additional citations may be forthcoming pending the outcome of DNA tests.

Illinois became the first non-Pacific state to enact a law that bans the sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins when Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation in July 2012.  The law is designed to help end the killing of sharks for their fins and prevent the collapse of shark populations worldwide.  Frequently, after a shark’s fins are cut off for sale or trade, the shark is thrown back into the ocean alive, where it bleeds to death or drowns.

Citations involving protected species are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. Resident Retail Aquatic Life Dealer license violations are Class B misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500.