Environmentalists concerned by apparent fishing violation

Fishing boats are tied up at a private dock in Puntarenas, a situation that raises the suspicions of environmentalists. Photo: Programa para Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas photo via YouTube

Environmentalists trying to enforce a commercial fishing regulation thought they had a deal.

The Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura and the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería said that by Dec. 1 every commercial fishing boat would have to unload its catch at the public docks in Barrio El Carmen, Puntarenas. The purpose of the agreement was to conform to a law that provides public oversight to fishing operations.

So what are two boats doing tied up at a private dock in Puntarenas, asked the Programa para Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas, the environmental group that also has an interest in sharks.

The organization reported Wednesday that two Belize-registered boats, the Yu Long 35 and the Hung Chi Fu 27 are unloading some 55 tons of shark at the private
Mariscos Wang facility. The organization has photos and posted a YouTube video based on a visit to the Pacific port Monday.
The environmental group said it was told that the port captain never got the message not to permit fishing boats to tie up at private docks. In addition the fisheries institute said that because the boats were not actually unloading their catch there was nothing illegal taking place, said the organization.

Randall Arauz of the environmental organization accused the fisheries institute and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes of evading the law as they have done since 1998.

The fisheries law is designed to make sure that boat captains comply with the many laws relating to their activities. Among other problems on the high seas is that of shark finning in which sharks are caught and their fins are cut off. The fins are a premium product in Asia. Than the sharks are just dumped back into the sea to die.

This has been a continuing problem, and the Costa Rican regulation is that a shark must be unloaded with fin attached. In some cases, fishermen tie a shark fin to a carcass to comply with the regulation.

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