San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Report on Shark Finning Points to Taiwanese Boats

A recently released report from theJapanese government revealed that at least120 Taiwanese vessels have conductedshark finning – the butchering of sharks’bodies to remove their fins – near CostaRican, Honduran and Mexican waters, theMarine Turtle Restoration Program (PRETOMA)said in a statement.According to the report, presented inearly June at the ninth meeting of theIndian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC),after greatly reducing shark populations inthe area, the Taiwanese finners movedtheir fishing operations to Pakistani andIndian waters in 2004.However, the strong vigilance of theNaval and Coast Guard forces in thosecountries pushed the Taiwanese to a newdestination: the east coast of Africa, wheregovernment control is lax.The report suggests Taiwanese finnerslook not only for areas where sharks stillabound, but where fishing controls arescarce, as is the case in Costa Rica, saidthe PRETOMA statement.“We do not care that a law exists onpaper. What concerns us is that sharkfinning continues here (in Costa Rica),”said PRETOMA representative NoahAnderson, in reference to the Fishing andAquaculture Law approved in February(TT, Feb. 18).Although the new law penalizes sharkfinning with prison and fines, between 15-30 mainly Taiwanese vessels continue tounload shark fins on private Costa Ricandocks every month, according toAnderson.PRETOMA, which says Costa Ricanshark populations have decreased 90% inthe past 50 years, advocates strict implementationof the existing Customs Law toprohibit foreign vessels from unloading onprivate docks in the country (TT, May 20).

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