By Tracy Vargas
The shark population is decreasing at an alarming rate due to “shark finning”, which is illegal in Costa Rica, but widely practiced.
Shark fins have been big business in Costa Rica for many years and in recent years authorities have made significant efforts to stop shark fin poaching.
Legal loopholes and lack of protection policies are identified as the main factors favoring the illegal practice of “finning” (cutting fins) of sharks in Costa Rica, which occupies the third place as an exporter of shark fins , after Taiwan and Spain.
“Shark Finning” is an ancient practice that consists on fishing sharks and cutting their fins in order to sell them, whereas the rest of the animal’s body is thrown away.
According to Alvaro Morales Ramirez, director of the Center for Research on Marine Sciences and Limnology (CIMAR in Spanish) at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), this practice is the main cause of the disappearance of sharks, a species now included in the list of endangered organisms.
Morales participated in a discussion on the subject organized by the Environmental Legal Office of the Faculty of Law, where Viviana Gutierrez Delgado – MarViva Foundation lawyer – also participated.
The biologist stated that shark fisheries are a problem worldwide and that they carry responsibility for the decline of this species. He indicated that there are no policies for control of finning nor for conservation. It is estimated that annually 200,000 tons of shark are discarded. More....