One step towards shark conservation

Written by Marco Quesada, Director Conservation International Costa Rica

Last week, at the meeting of the group of signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, countries agreed to incorporate 20 marine species including sawfish, stingrays and various species of sharks, within the list the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) seeks to protect.

Protect from what?

Se estima que a nivel global se matan entre 63 y 273 millones de tiburones anualmente.

It is estimated that between 63 and 273 million sharks are killed annually.

From us, men. We ourselves are the threat pushing these species to extinction . If no measures are taken, some of these species could eventually disappear. Continue reading

Why not to reopen trawling in Costa Rica?

So much has happened in Costa Rica on the conservation and exploitation of marine resources front during 2015, that it is easy to get overwhelmed, or at least confused.

Certainly one of the issues that sparked the debate was what our government called National Policy on Sustainable Exploitation of Shrimp. With great fanfare, it was announced that the process involved the participation and support of the fishing sector, government, academia and the environmental sector.

From there things started badly, given that stating that academy, environmentalists, scientists and even large segments of the fishing industry in our country approved an initiative to reopen trawling, is far from the truth.

We will take it slowly: Continue reading

Our ocean: an uncertainty on 2015

Written by Marco Quesada, Director of Conservation International in Costa Rica

I do not dislike our president. I appreciate that he does not use the same political tone that we have heard all of our lives. I think he is an intelligent, articulate person.

Segmento de un comunicado oficial del gobierno de Costa Rica

Extract from an official communication by Costa Rican government.

However, I believe that our government has not addressed environmental issues correctly. Marine issues in particular. At the bare minimum, there has been a huge communication problem and that is already a big problem. I think overall the current government has shown a great inability to receive criticism about its management of resources and marine areas. They suffer from intolerance to criticism. Questions do not open debates, they are quickly labeled as “malicious” and “false”. No policy is ever immune to criticism, yet our government, once it receives criticism, insists on qualifying it as evil; the only result being that those who receive it, evade it. Our government cannot explain what those “evil intentions” they are using to disqualify criticism actually are. Without evidence, the discussion disappears and the arguments move to the realm of faith. We are forced to believe rather than to understand. Continue reading

Sustainable development and Social Justice

Mario Peña Chacón,  Coordinator of the Master of Environmental Law at the University of Costa Rica. Member of the Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Sustainable development?

The concept of sustainable development was born in 1987 in the report entitled “Our Common Future” by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report). It was recognized internationally by the United Nations in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992:

“The kind of development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

This means that sustainable development can not exist if we do not think about the future, choosing a way of development and business that do not jeopardize the welfare of our children or grandchildren. Continue reading

A defining moment

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

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.
Continue reading