Humane Society International Lauds Costa Rica at UN Meeting
At a United Nations fisheries meeting, Humane Society International commended the government of Costa Rica for its leadership on shark protection and urged other nations to follow that country’s lead.
“Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice that must be stopped,” said Rebecca Regnery, deputy director for wildlife at HSI. “Since 2004, Costa Rica has required sharks to be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies, which is the only foolproof way of ensuring that fishing vessels have not been finning sharks.”
The government of Costa Rica hosted an event at the 29th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries meeting in Rome, where they explained the “fins-attached” method of enforcing prohibitions on shark finning by requiring that all sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached. This practice means that people cannot profit by removing sharks’ fins at sea and keeping the fins for sale while dumping the (often still living) shark back into the ocean. During the event, Vice-Minister of Agriculture Xinia Chávez stressed the importance of this issue to her country and for having the opportunity to share their experience in order to improve global shark conservation.
The Rome event provided an opportunity for Costa Rica to share its experience and expertise with countries throughout the world that wish to address global declines in shark populations and end the ecologically destructive practice of decimating shark populations to meet the demand for shark fin soup.
2009 - Costa Rica was the first country in the world to adopt “fins-attached” regulations. During the 28th session of the Committee on Fisheries, the government of Costa Rica recommended holding a technical workshop to demonstrate the fins-attached method of landing sharks to help other countries end finning.
2010 - The government of Costa Rica held a “fins-attached” technical workshop in Puntarenas, the country’s largest port. It was supported by HSI and attended by delegates from 12 countries in the Latin American region. Delegates were taken to the docks to witness for themselves the landing of fresh and deep-frozen sharks with their fins naturally attached with a partial cut on the fins of frozen sharks to allow the fins to be folded over the body.
- Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed solely for their fins, which are used to make shark fin soup.
- The cruel practice of shark finning causes the suffering animal to sink to the bottom of the ocean where it endures a long and agonizing death. With their fins cut off, sharks cannot swim properly, and they die from shock, blood loss or predation by other fish.
- Shark finning is a major cause of massive declines in shark populations around the world, since fishers retain only the fins, which do not require chilling or freezing. This means that their freezers do not fill up with bulky shark carcasses, which allows them to continue catching sharks for much longer than they could if they had to retain the carcasses. Shark finning thereby encourages unsustainable catches.
- As apex predators at or near the top of the food chains in systems that they inhabit, sharks help maintain the balance of marine life. Research shows massive depletion of sharks has negative and cascading effects throughout ocean ecosystems.
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