• Species banned and regulated by international conventions detected.

(November 21, 2014 – San José, Costa Rica)

Last Wednesday, shark fins belonging to species that have been banned and regulated by international conventions that Costa Rica has signed were confirmed to occur in a cargo of shark fins that was intended to be exported to Hong Kong. Dr. Alex Sánchez, the veterinarian inspector of the National Service of Animal Health (SENASA), identified the occurrence of oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) and hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna) with the technical assistance of Maike Heidemeyer and Randall Arauz of the Costa Rican NGO PRETOMA, after inspecting a sample of 3 sacks of shark fins (each of approximately 40 kilos) of a total cargo containing 30 sacks. The shark fin cargo was to be exported to Hong Kong via Miami, through express freight services UPS and China Airlines.

Dr. Alex Sánchez of SENASA and Maike Heidemeyer of PRETOMA, showing the hammerhead sharks found in the load

Dr. Alex Sánchez of SENASA and Maike Heidemeyer of PRETOMA, showing the hammerhead sharks found in the load

The catch, retention, transport, landing and commerce of oceanic whitetip shark is banned by the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), and the international commerce of hammerhead sharks is regulated by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Both treaties are binding to Costa Rica.

The involved private sectors (UPS and the owners of the shark fin cargo Inversiones Cruz S.A.) collaborated fully with officers of SENASA and the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) in the detection and identification of the fins from banned and regulated shark species. Furthermore, representatives of Inversiones Cruz S.A. committed to collaborate with the actions held by the country to abide by CITES regulations for hammerhead sharks, and even donated shark fins to PRETOMA, which will be used to carry out shark fin ID training for public officers. The rest of the cargo that was not inspected will be returned to Puntarenas.

“Controls and traceability must exist in every link of the chain of commerce, from the landing at docks, to the processing facility, to the exporting port, to guarantee abidance with the international conventions meant to perpetuate the existence of these endangered marine species”, said Maike Heidemeyer. “Nonetheless, as has been clearly exposed, at this moment no controls nor traceability whatsoever exist”, warned Heidemeyer.

Randall Arauz inspects a sack of shark fins, under the supervision of officers of MINAE

Randall Arauz inspects a sack of shark fins, under the supervision of officers of MINAE

Randall Arauz pointed out that the main loophole is the sworn statement provided by the official veterinary regent posted at the processing plant, who must guarantee that the cargo to be exported is legal in its full extent, and based upon which the officers of SENASA waive further inspections. “Clearly, the system is fallible and inefficient, the facts speak for themselves,” said Arauz. “We call upon the pertinent authorities to investigate the processing plant’s veterinarian regent, because he either stated that no banned and regulated species occurred in the cargo without even inspecting it, or he knew the cargo had banned and regulated species and simply looked the other way”.

PRETOMA will continue its collaboration with the respective national authorities to guarantee Costa Rica´s abidance with the international commitments the country has acquired through the international conventions it has signed and ratified.

 

 

NOTES:

The Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), through resolution C-11-10, agreed during its 82nd Meeting in La Jolla, California (4-8 July, 2011), resolved to ban the on board retention, transshipping, landing, storage, sale, as well as the offer to sell any part of oceanic whitetip shark, and must free individuals caught with the least harm possible. This resolution is effective as of January 1, 2012.

Three species of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini, S. mokarran, S. zygaena) were listed under Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) in April of 2013 by initiative of Costa Rica, Brazil, and Honduras, because of which after September 14 of the current year, the exportation of this species may only under the blessing of a Non Detrimental Use Finding (NDF). At the moment, no hammerhead shark NDF exists for Costa Rica, because of which the exportation of the species is banned.

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    Species banned and regulated by international conventions detected. (November 21, 2014 - San José, Costa Rica) Last Wednesday, shark fins belonging to species that have been banned and regulated by international conventions that Costa Rica has signed were confirmed to occur in a cargo of shark fins that was intended to...