In a move that’s slowly becoming an international trend, the country of Costa Rica recently enacted a law that bans all elements of shark finning within its borders. Although the island nation technically outlawed shark finning in 2011, the legislation still permitted the transportation and importation of fins from other countries. The updated law, signed by President Laura Chinchilla earlier this week, closes those loopholes.
“Costa Rica may set an example to the world when it comes to environmental protection, but it must be noted that we had a significant lag when it comes to protecting the oceans,” Chinchilla told reporters at a signing ceremony in Manuel Antonio National Park on the country’s Pacific coast.
Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful process whereby the fins are cut from still-living sharks, while the rest of the animal is tossed back into the ocean. Demand for shark fins is driven mainly by Asian countries where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.
But just signing a piece of paper that makes shark finning illegal doesn’t do much to end this centuries-old practice. That’s why Costa Rica also announced an investment of up to $15 million in a new radar system that will allow authorities to better identify boats breaking the ban.
Those who are caught violating the law will face fines and the potential cancellation of fishing licenses. It’s this latter consequences that will likely make the most impact in Costa Rica, where commercial fishing is a major source of income, both for the government and individuals. Commercial fishermen tempted to engage in shark finning on the side may think twice if it could cost them their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the ban still allows for the capture of whole sharks for food.
Costa Rica’s decision is just the latest in a string of countries and states that have banned shark finning. Most recently, the Chinese government pledged to stop serving shark fin soup at official banquets within the next one to three years.
A special thank-you to the 1,260 Care2 Members who signed this petition telling Costa Rica to stop shark finning!
Image via Thinkstock
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