Smile Back at Sharks
On November 23, the documentary “Shark Water” (www.sharkwater.com) opens in Costa Rican theaters. This documentary shows the reality of shark finning practices in Costa Rica, centered on actions that took place during the presidencies of Rodriguez (1998-2002) and Pacheco (2002-2006). The events portrayed in this film obviously sully the reputation of Costa Rica as a world conservation leader.
The authorities of the Arias administration (2006-2010), especially the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Foreign Relations are interested in exploring ways to improve the conservation and management of sharks in Costa Rica and regionally. This is, without a doubt, a great opportunity for Costa Rica to show the world their commitment to shark conservation, and to put an end to shark finning. The first step SHOULD be the compliance of the law. The Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), the General Direction of Migration, and the Department of Navigation and Security of the Ministry of Transportation, ARE OBLIGATED to comply with the January 2006 mandates of the Constitutional Court and the Contraloría General de la República of February 2007, which ORDER that the authorities prohibit, IMMEDIATELY, that international fishing fleets land shark products on the private docks of Puntarenas that are not a part of public infrastructure.
Unfortunately, as has occurred uninterrupted for the last three administrations, the law continues to be violated on the private docks in Puntarenas every day. So far this year, 79 internationally-owned fishing vessels have ILLEGALLY landed a total of 2,400 tons of sharks on private docks, a flagrant violation of our laws and the mandates of the Constitutional Court and the National Controllership. Why does this administration continue supporting this illegal and destructive practice?
This is where we need YOU!
Attached is a draft letter we are requesting our friends to send to Carlos Villalobos, the President of Costa Rica’s Fishery Institute INCOPESCA. It is best if you can send the letter via FAX to:
Carlos Villalobos (506) 248-1585
With a copy to PRETOMA: (506) 236 6017
You can also sign the draft letter at our directly from our website, click here.
Also, check our website for updates (www.pretoma.org) and sign up for PRETOMA news.
Since the movie is playing on November 23, we have set a deadline for November 19 to receive emails and FAXs. A package with the signatures will be given to Carlos Villalobos and the press on the November 20.
It may be possible to convince the authorities to abide by the law, but we don’t have much time. Send us your letter of support ASAP, and don’t forget to distribute this message to your friends, family, colleagues…
Attached is some background information.
It has been a long 6 years since we started this shark finning campaign in Costa Rica, and exposed the manipulation of scientific information and the violation of our laws to favor the shark fin industry.
Some things have changed, no doubt. Costa Rica was the first country in the region to mandate the landing of shark fins only if attached to the body in natural form (August, 2006), and is currently leading a regional and global process to ban shark finning worldwide. However, it must also be pointed out that truly enough, Costa Rica boasts the most progressive shark finning regulations in the region, but that was only after the Congress (Asamblea Legislativa) ruled out the use of 12.7% fin to body weight ratio in March of 2005, and 3 resolutions from the National Attorney who ordered fins to be landed attached naturally to the body, and NOT hacked off and tied back together again by strings, as INCOPESCA promoted. These were significant steps, as major loopholes with allowed shark finning were closed. It must also be pointed out that these important steps have been attained after a process of several years starting 6 years back, with the collaboration of many government institutes, including the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Environment Commission of the Congress, the Costa Rican Coast Guard, the Costa Rican General Attorney, and the Costa Rican Defender of the People (Ombudsman).
Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been possible to close the MAJOR loophole in Costa Rica which may facilitate shark finning operations, which is the use of the private docks by international flag vessels. Costa Rica Customs legislation mandates the use of public docks on behalf of the international fleet. The Costa Rican courts have acknowledged that within the privacy of the docks, it is impossible to protect the public interest, and direct orders have been issued by two Courts mandating the existence and use of public infrastructure at private docks. The efforts of all the collaborating institutions, as well as Costa Rica’s reputation, are tarnished by INCOPESCA’s, Custom’s, and the Ministry of Public Transportation’s collective unwillingness to abide by the LAW.