International protection sought for hammerhead sharks

Some 28 organizations and nine countries are backing a proposal by the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones to include the hammerhead shark in a list of threatened species, according to a local environmental organization.

The list is by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITIES.

“Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITIES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs,” said the convention on its Web site.

Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants
are protected by CITIES against over-exploitation through international trade, said the convention. But hammerheads are not among them.

If the shark is included, other countries, such as Panamá, Ecuador and Colombia are committed to help protect them, according to the environmental organization Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, known as Pretoma.

The Isla del Coco is famous for its large population of hammerheads.

Randall Arauz of Pretoma in a news release pointed out the contradictory nature of Costa Rica’s shark policies. While the environment ministry is attempting to protect the hammerhead, the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura is promoting the annual importation of dozens of tons of shark fins from Nicaragua, something that should be corrected immediately, he said.

Pretoma has worked successfully to prevent the offloading of shark fins at Costa Rican private docks.

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