Differences in opinion persist on foreign fleet activities

(July 22, 2008 – San José, Costa Rica)

While multiple differences of opinion exist between private dock owners in Puntarenas and PRETOMA, both groups agreed that prohibiting the exportation of shark fins is not the solution to stopping irrational shark fishing, nor is it the way to promote responsible fishing.

This was the only point that both groups agreed on during a round table discussion held at the Costa Rican Agency for the Foundation of Development this past July 17 in Puntarenas.  The event analyzed the Proposed Law “Prohibition of shark finning”, spearheaded by Costa Rican Congresswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum, a member of the Environmental Commission of the Costa Rican Congress.

“Fortunately, the problems suffered by Ecuador, a country that tried to implement similar measures for several years, were considered”, said Jorge Ballestero, PRETOMA’s representative at the roundtable.  “A prohibition of shark fin exports would mainly affect national fisherman who utilize sharks caught as by catch while targeting other more valuable species of fish, like dorado or tuna, and would certainly generate an illegal shark fin market to other countries like Nicaragua and Panamá”, added Ballestero.

PRETOMA did agree with the proposal to prohibit the importation shark fins, as well as any sort of shark product, in order to limit fishing activities directed at sharks until measures have been established that assure their conservation, management, and sustainable exploitation, in concurrence with calls from the United Nations (Resolution A/62/L.24, paragraph 11). According to information made available by the Port Authority of Puntarenas in 2007, more than 100 foreign vessels landed some 8500 tons of fishing products at private docks, 85% of which corresponded to sharks.

“No doubt, prohibiting the importation of fins and shark products would have a positive impact on the marine environment and the national fishing industry, currently overwhelmed by the competition represented by the foreign fleet”, commented Randal Arauz, PRETOMA’s President.  “However, beyond a modification of the current Fishing Law, Costa Rica needs to comply with laws that already exist, like the General Customs Law which prohibits the foreign fleet from using private docks, which is continuously violated by INCOPESCA, MOPT and Customs”, clarified Arauz.

The meeting’s achievements and discussions, however, were limited due to limited representation of the fishery sector, most of which consisted of Puntarenas shark fin buyers and exporters.  “Far from representing the opinion of the Costa Rican fishermen, those present were the main players of the shark fin trade in the Eastern Pacific, and who profit from the illegal use of private docks by foreign fleets in Puntarenas”, concluded Miguel Gómez, Campaign Coordinator of PRETOMA.

The Costa Rican Constitutional Court, in January, 2006, ordered the immediate closure of private docks that were not provided with public infrastructure, Resolution. The order was seconded by the General Comptrollerships Court in February, 2007, Resolution.  In July, 2008 the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental Commission also recommended the immediate closure of the private docks, Resolution. Not withstanding, INCOPESCA, MOPT, and Customs insist that their behavior abides by national laws, and currently face a lawsuit filed by PRETOMA for contempt of the Constitutional Court mandate.

For more information:

PRETOMA

Tel (506) 2241 5227, FAX (506) 2236 6017

Email:  info@pretoma.org

Website: www.pretoma.org

PRETOMA is a Costa Rican Civil Association of Public Interest, and is an active member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN and the World Society for the Protection of Animals WSPA.

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    Differences in opinion persist on foreign fleet activities (July 22, 2008 - San José, Costa Rica) While multiple differences of opinion exist between private dock owners in Puntarenas and PRETOMA, both groups agreed that prohibiting the exportation of shark fins is not the solution to stopping irrational shark fishing,...