Costa Rican Court rejects appeal that sought to reopen private docks to the landing of foreign shark finning fleets.
(April 6, 2011 – San José, Costa Rica)
The Administrative Civil Court unanimously rejected yesterday an appeal against the decision of this Court to annul the precautionary measure that allowed foreign fleets to continue using their own private docks. Since December 1 of 2010, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute mandates the use of public docks for foreign fleets (AJDIP 371-2010), in an effort to halt shark finning operations, but the representatives of the foreign fleets filed suit against Incopesca, claiming it had no authority to do so, and even won a precautionary measure that allowed them to continue using their private docks until the end of the legal process, which was fortunately annulled by the Court last February 25.
The lawyer who filed the appeal en representation of the shark fin companies Mariscos Wang S.A., Porta Portense S.A., and Transportes El Pescador S.A., argued that Incopesca was causing an irreparable economic damage to his clients. He also claimed that it was not possible for the companies to abide by the so called “Active Perfection Regime”, granted by the Ministry of Foreign Commerce, because the public dock doesn’t meet the right conditions. Nonetheless, the shark finning companies were unable to prove to the Court that the use of a public dock implied any economic or quality loss.
Jorge Ballestero, of the Costa Rican organization Pretoma, expressed his satisfaction with the resolution. “Costa Rica is now abiding by our Customs Law in its articles 211 and 212, which mandates the use of public docks on behalf of foreign fleets as a condition to receive their products,” informed Ballestero. “In fact, the law has no caveat whatsoever which would allow the importation of products through private facilities, not even in the absence of public infrastructure, as in the privacy of the docks it is impossible for the State to protect the public interest”, clarified Ballestero.
According to Randall Arauz, also of Pretoma, the mandate for foreign fleets to use public docks has had an immediate effect, exposing how they have taken advantage of the loopholes facilitated by the Executive branch to fin sharks for years. “The Flagrancy Court has already found one Taiwanese Captain guilty of landing finless sharks in the public dock of Puntarenas, something that had never been done after 12 years of landing at private docks”, informed Arauz. “Malice in this case was evident, as the Taiwanese Captain was landing finned sharks mixed together with whole sharks, showing he had full knowledge of the illegal nature of his acts and tried to cover them up,” accused Arauz.
The legal dispute continues. The shark finning company Mariscos Wang filed yet another suit at the Appeals Court against the Flagrancy Court that condemned the Captain of vessel Hung Chi Fu 12 for landing finless sharks. Furthermore, the case against Incopesca, which was filed by the representatives of the shark finning industry for mandating them to abide by the law, will continue.