San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Colombia eyes Costa Rican boats for shark slaughter

At least 2,000 sharks were discovered dead with their fins removed in a marine sanctuary off the coast of Colombia yesterday. The alleged culprits are Costa Rican fishing vessels that illegally entered the protected waters around Malpelo Island, about 380 kilometers off Colombia’s Pacific coast.

A Colombian presidential adviser on environmental matters, Sandra Bessudo, told reporters Thursday, “I have received a report, very shocking, from divers who arrived from Russia to observe the high concentration of sharks in Malpelo and found numerous fishing boats entering the zone illegally.”

The divers found thousands of sharks dead beneath the waters with their fins removed, Bessudo said. She added that she had the names of 10 fishing vessels flying Costa Rican flags that allegedly seemed to be responsible for the slaughter.

The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying that, according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, no official information was yet available indicating that the boats involved were of Costa Rican registry.

 “The Costa Rican government reiterates that it has been constant and consistent on the topic of responsible fishing, for example, in its categorical rejection of shark finning,” the statement said. “[The government] strongly condemns the alleged actions, and if participation of Costa Rican ships is proven in these acts, appropriate legal action will be taken.”

Shark fins are made into an expensive soup sold as a specialty in Asian restaurants. In Panama and Colombia, shark fins fetch $20-$40 per kilogram.

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