A so-called “shark fin kingpin” was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Atlanta to five years probation and fined $5,000 for violating federal wildlife protection laws.
Mark L. Harrison, 48, of Southport, Fla., represented himself as the nation’s largest shark fin buyer, saying he bought and sold millions of fins since opening his business 20 years ago, according to federal authorities. The fins are used to make shark fin soup, a centuries-old Chinese delicacy.
In August 2007, Harrison tried to ship through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at least 211 fins from three species of protected sharks. Authorities said that Harrison dried his fins on open air racks or on tarps laid on the ground, leaving the fins exposed to bird droppings, insects and dogs.
“Hopefully, this sentence will raise public awareness of how unlawful commercialization impacts certain species of wildlife,” said James Gale, special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s office of law enforcement.
As part of his sentence, Harrison was ordered to take out an advertisement in a publication with a large circulation in the fish industry about complying with shark fin reporting requirements.
Oceanic Defense Response to Sentencing:
"Although we are happy that this man was finally caught it is an insult to the millions of sharks that he has murdered to fuel the shark fin soup trade. The ridiculous penalty of $5000 is nothing compared to the profit he made from the flesh of these protected and endangered sharks.
The courts have not deterred one poacher in the illegal shark fin trade with this type of a sentence. In reality they might as well have said: Go ahead, continue to kill sharks, just remember to put another $5000 in the fin jar."