written by MARIO ESPINOZA, marine biologist, professor at the University of Costa Rica.
Currently, issues of export of shark fins, and especially marketing hammerhead shark species have been the focus of attention of many, including the fisheries sector, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Costa Rican people.
La aletas de tiburón son muy apetecidas en el mercado asiático. Foto por Jeff Litton
Shark fins have a very high value on the Asian market, which has led to illegal fishing activities to the detriment of several species such as hammerhead sharks. The reason is simple, the price of the fins is higher than that of the flesh. Therefore, some fishermen opt for the easy (but illegal) option of cutting and retaining only the fins so they can have more room on their boats, and thus generate greater wealth. This activity has been completely banned in many countries, and Costa Rica is no exception. However, not only does shark finning continue in our waters, but also a lack of controls the landings, which makes it impossible to even know the kind of species being captured. This despite all the existing regulations and conventions to which Costa Rica is part.
Fishers in Guanacaste. Illegal fishing affects them.
According to a press release by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, on July 24th the National Coastguard, along with Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INCOPESCA) confiscated two thousand meters of prohibited fishing nets in the Gulf of Nicoya, from a group of fishers that tried to stop the police work.
Illegal fishers, onboard of 32 boats and concealing their faces, surrounded the authorities with a menacing attitude. All of it was documented on video by the officers. Continue reading
Ana Gloria Guzmán, Marine Program Manager CI Costa Rica
Let’s assume that those nearly 2000 sharks that a private company is trying to export with the approval of our authorities, are indeed the product of by-catch. That is, that they were fished by accident. This is an argument that nor INCOPESCA or MINAE can prove with facts.
Let’s also assume that all, or a high percentage of that catch was captured by artisanal fishers with license and legal fishing gear. This too, cannot be proven by our authorities. In fact, there are studies that show that artisanal fishers do not target adult hammerhead sharks, like the ones that are to be exported. Continue reading