Environmentalist record first violation of shark finning rule

Environmentalists said that Tuesday a fishing boat unloaded shark fins at the public dock in Puntarenas. That is an illegal act because Costa Rican law said that shark fins must remain attached to the shark carcass when they are brought ashore, environmentalists added.

This is the newest chapter in the battle between environmentalists and the highly lucrative shark finning trade based in Puntarenas.

The Programa de Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas identified the boat involved as the Hung Chi Fu XII and said the violation was a blatant one.

The rule involved is the one shark finning interests appealed before the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo. The firms are Marisco Wang, S.A., Porta Portese S.A. and Transportes el Pescador S.A. Although a judge issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the rule in mid-February, the measure was upheld in a final hearing last week.

The Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura entered into an agreement with the Ministerio de Obras Públicas in October that by Dec. 1 all fishing cargo would be unloaded
at public docks. Basically the agencies agreed to follow Costa Rican law. The institute operates the docks.

Shark finning is controversial because usually the rest of the carcass is just dumped back into the sea. By requiring that the shark also be unloaded, the law hampers the killing of sharks.

“The system is working”, said Randall Arauz, president of the environmental organization that calls itself Pretoma, in an organization news release. “Clearly, the international fleet needs the privacy of its private docks to hide its shark finning activities, but now it must respect our laws,” added Arauz.

“We have presented the case to the corresponding legal entities and Pretoma is hopeful that the guilty parties will be duly sanctioned”, said Jorge Ballestero, also of Pretoma, in the same release. “It seems like this is the beginning of the end for the international shark finning fleet here in Costa Rica.”

There was no mention of what kind of penalty the fishing boat captain faces, if any.

Shark fins are in high demand in Asia mainly for use in a ceremonial soup.

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