October 6th, 2015 (ICR News) In a move that is being condemned by numerous conservation groups, the government of Costa Rican president, Luis Guillermo Solis has promised the commercial fishing sector that it will “not propose or support” the inclusion of shark species with commercial value to be protected in Costa Rican waters – or anywhere, for that matter – regardless if such species are threatened or endangered.
“The government of Costa Rica has agreed it will not propose or support the inclusion of shark species with commercial interest in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),” reads part of a letter sent by the Minister of the Presidency, Sergio Alfaro sent to environmental organizations.
In the letter, the government appears to have yielded to pressure and demands by the commercial fishing sector after a series of protests and blockades of public highways that took place in September, some of which turned violent, leading the government to negotiate with the sector.
Not only has the government promised the commercial fishing sector to not protect any shark species deemed of commercial interest, the government will actively take part in the promotion of shark fin exports, according to Pretoma, a conservation NGO.
As part of its negotiations with the commercial fishing sector, the government “commits to intermediate between international couriers that have committed to stop transporting shark fins to resume these activities, even though they did so in abidance to their own corporate environmental policy,” Pretoma said in a statement sent to ICR News.
Earlier this year, American Airlines announced that they would no longer ship shark fins after a story appearing on ICR News identified the airline as the shipper of more than 600 kilos of the fins from Costa Rica between November and December 2014.
“We were quite surprised when we learned of the agreements reached by the environmental and fisheries authorities [...] These commitments are contrary to the best scientific evidence, the precautionary principle, as well as the general international consensus regarding the management of sharks”, said Marco Quesada, of Conservation International.
“The conduct of the current authorities and their advisors is not only irresponsible, it lacks technical foundation and occurs at the margin of current legislation. A setback of such magnitude damages our country’s image, as it contradicts our image of a conservation minded country,” warned Randall Arauz, of Pretoma.
WIDECAST, Fundación Marviva,Pretoma, Conservación Internacional, AIDA, Misión Tiburón, UESPRA, Fundación KETO, The Leatherback Trust, Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre, Biocenosis, Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco, Sea Sheperd, Cedarena, and Promar are just some of the NGOs condemning the government’s actions.