Representatives of environmental organizations from seven Central and South American nations met in Costa Rica Dec. 8 and called for better protection for the sharks that migrate between their countries’ waters.
Forming the Coalition for Sharks, the representatives denounced the practice of shark finning, in which fishermen capture live sharks, cut off their cartilage-filled fins and throw their bodies back into the ocean to die, said a statement from the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (PRETOMA), the Costa Rican environmental organization that organized the conference.
The fins are used in soup popular in Asia for its alleged aphrodisiacal qualities. “All of our governments should work together to ensure that the practice of shark finning is eliminated from our region of Latin America,” said PRETOMA president Randall Arauz in a statement released after the conference.
Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama are the only countries in the region to have prohibited shark finning, the PRETOMA statement said. Representatives from Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Colombia attended the conference.
Representatives signed a manifesto at the conclusion of the conference calling on their governments to do more and to work together against finning. They also called on the nations that consume shark fins to find a more environmentally friendly alternative.