Environmentalists Celebrate Approval of Fishing Law

February 18, 2005

THE long-awaited Fishing andAquaculture Law, which includes sanctionsagainst fishing in protected areas, unlicensedfishing vessels and unsustainableshark fishing, was approved by the LegislativeAssembly in second debate Feb. 11.Environmental groups such as thenon-profit marine protection organizationMarViva have been lobbying in favor ofincreased fishing regulations for nearly 10years.“Finally, Costa Rica has a law thatregulates the fishing sector, the types offishing, and the prohibitions and requirementsfor the authorization of these activities,”MarViva legal director MaríaVirginia Cajiao said in a statement.“The law establishes 18 new penalcategories, which obligate authorities toexercise greater control,” she added.“Also, the law includes important prohibitionsagainst shark-finning…and sportsfishingin national parks.”Parts of Costa Rica’s previous fishinglaw, which dated to 1948, was struckdown by the Supreme Court in 1995because penalties for violations were notclearly defined (TT, July 23, August 6,2004). This created what the MarVivastatement describes as “a legal void.”The new law establishes the CostaRican Fishing Institute (INCOPESCA) asthe agency in charge of enforcing the law.It makes fishing or hunting cetaceans(whales, dolphins and such) and turtles illegal,and establishes higher fines and prisonsentences for shark-finning – the practice ofcutting off sharks’ valuable cartilage-filledfins and discarding the rest of the body.President Abel Pacheco must now signthe Fishing and Aquaculture project for itto become law.

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