Costa Rica's Shark Finning Ban Signed By President Chinchilla
Shark fins are in high demand in Asian countries such as China and Japan, where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy and is also served at many Chinese weddings. Environmental activists have long campaigned against shark finning for many years. They say it is cruel, and a threat to sea life and the preservation of the oceans as the shark is an important apex predator.
On Wednesday of this week, Costa Rica passed a blanket ban on shark finning. President Laura Chinchilla signed an executive order banning shark finning in the Central American nation's coastal waters, closing loopholes in an existing law passed in 2001. Shark finning is the fishing practice in which the fins are sliced off sharks. They are still alive and then thrown back into the ocean only to die a horrible death.
President Chinchilla was quoted during a signing ceremony in Manuel Antonio National Park on the country's Pacific coast as saying that, "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. "
The new law amends previous legislation that outlawed shark finning but continued to allow the transportation and importation of fins from other countries. The penalties under the ban include fines and the cancellation of fishing licenses for those who are caught finning sharks. Catching sharks for food, as a means of subsistence, however, will continue to be allowed.
President Chinchilla 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. Congratulations to Costa Rica for taking a big step in putting an end to this cruel and wasteful fishing practice.