Apparent Tax Evasion of Aprox. $2 Million on Shark Fins Landed in Costa Rica

September 1, 2005 – San Jose, Costa Rica
The Costa Rican organizations PRETOMA, APREFLOFAS and FECON today are filing an official denouncement before the Director of Customs for apparent tax evasion by foreign vessels of 2 million dollars on shark fins landed in Costa Rica.  The denouncement also calls for an investigation into an apparent failure on the part of the government to charge taxes on these foreign vessel landings.

The denouncement points out the following:

• According to the data provided by the National Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA), in the year 2003, foreign vessels landed 546 tons of fresh shark fins in Costa Rica.

• The Costa Rican import tax code requires a tax payment of 10% of the value of fresh shark fins landed by foreign vessels.

• A conservative estimate of the dockside price per kilo of fresh shark fins is US$35, which means foreign vessels should have paid approximately 1.9 million dollars for the year 2003.

• However, in 2003, for all shark products landed (not just fins but shark meat as well) foreign vessels paid only approximately US$34,000 resulting in a discrepancy of nearly US$2 million.

“These findings raise serious questions regarding the collection of taxes on shark fins landed by foreign vessels,” says Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA.  “The small amount of taxes paid on shark fins means that the dockside price for fins would have to be just over half a dollar per kilo, which everyone knows is nowhere close to the actual price.  Customs and all entities involved in collecting taxes on shark fins have a lot of explaining to do.” 

“Potential for tax evasion is definitely facilitated by the government’s policy of letting foreign, notably Taiwanese, vessels land at private docks where the Coastguard doesn’t have free access,” says Noah Anderson of PRETOMA.  “There appears to be a major privilege for these foreign shark vessels.  If such a privilege exists it would be equal to the Costa Rican government promoting the overexploitation of sharks in the region to the detriment of the national treasury, the national fishing fleet and the ocean ecosystem.  Furthermore, if millions of dollars in taxes have gone to line the pockets of foreign shark fin companies instead of into the national Treasury, that is a serious blow to the poor coastal and fishing communities in Costa Rica who could very much use tax moneys and a helping hand due to poor fishing conditions during the past years.”


CONTACT: Randall Arauz, President PRETOMA
TEL:  +(506) 241-5227
FAX:  +(506) 236-6017

PRETOMA (Programa Restauraci