Petition to president seeks to end shark-finning loophole

A letter signed by 4,039 Costa Rican citizens was delivered Tuesday to President Laura Chinchilla urging her to sign an executive decree banning shark fin imports. The letter was also signed by 324 citizens of 39 countries, from Taiwan to the United Kingdon who are concerned over shark finning and the new loophole that the foreign fishing fleet now uses to circumvent Costa Rican controls and laws.

As of Dec 1, Costa Rica mandated that foreign fishing vessels must land their products at public docks in accordance with the law. The recent sentence against Tsa Yu Jen, the Taiwanese captain of the Belize-flagged vessel Hung Chi Fu 12 for landing 2,000 kilos of sharks without fins at the public of Puntarenas exposed the ease with which the foreign fleet has, for years, sidestepped the law and landed shark fins in Puntarenas, said the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, an environmental group.

Regrettably, shark finners have now devised yet another trick to dodge national legislation, one that involves landing the shark fins in Nicaragua where they are then loaded into Costa Rican trucks and imported (via land) intoCosta Rica, said the organization. The fishing vessel then arrives in Costa Rica several days later for supplies and to land the rest of its fisheries products, it added.

“This is a mockery of Costa Rica’s internationally acclaimed shark finning controls, and which the country so proudly promotes,” said Randall Arauz of the Costa Rican organization which coordinated the letter’s delivery.

“Furthermore, shark fin imports seriously compromise other marine conservation measures that this government has recently adopted, for example the private dock closure to foreign boats and the creation of the marine managed area around Cocos Island,” added Arauz in a press release.

“Banning shark fin imports will strengthen Costa Ricas’s international image and will not, under any circumstances, affect the domestic fishing industry,” said Miguel Gómez another member of the organization. “We’re confident that President Laura Chinchilla will hear the cry of the Costa Rican people and the concerned citizens of the world, and immediately ban shark fin imports,” said Gómez.

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