San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Taiwanese petitioners to President Chinchilla: Stop shark fin imports

Hundreds of Taiwanese citizens opposed to the practice of shark finning sent a petition to Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla asking her to ban importation of shark fins and other shark products, a press release from the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (Pretoma) said. Chinchilla received the petition, which contained the signatures of 380 Taiwanese citizens, on Friday.

Among those who signed are local government employees in the capital of Taipei and members of a Taipei-based Christian church, among others. Shanon Lee, a lecturer at the National Chiao Tung University, heard about Pretoma’s work against shark finning in Costa Rica and decided to launch a campaign in Taipei.

“We do not care for shark fin soup and consider it a horrid, extremely horrid practice, and the government of Costa Rica has our full support to kick the fleets out,” Lee said.

In Costa Rica, shark finning is not forbidden by law, but crews must land their products at public docks with fins still attached to the sharks’ bodies.

According to Pretoma, to skirt the laws, international ships are docking in Nicaragua, where they land the shark fins unattached and then import them to Costa Rica by land. From Costa Rica, they are shipped abroad, usually to Asia. Costa Rica’s Fisheries Institute, or Incopesca, confirmed that since Dec. 1, 2010, they have authorized the importation of 15,000 kilograms of shark fins from Nicaragua.

“With these signatures included, over 5,000 citizens of the world have asked President Chinchilla to forbid the importation of sharks to Costa Rica,” Pretoma’s President Randall Arauz said. “This is the only way that Costa Rica can advance toward the effective conservation and management of shark resources, and if it doesn’t do it, the foreign fleet will continue to circumvent and make a mockery of Costa Rican shark conservation and management policy, affecting our credibility in international forums,” Arauz said in a press release.

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