Costa Rica’s President Chávez has 8 days to respond over sharks.

by | Mar 7, 2024

The State is accused of not complying with Court orders that favor sharks.

(March 7, 2024 – San José, Costa Rica).  Last March 5, Costa Rica’s President Rodrigo Chávez was granted 8 days by the Contentious Administrative Court to respond to a lawsuit filed by lawyer Walter Brenes last January 17, regarding compliance with Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice’s ruling on threatened sharks of last June 27 (Exp: 17-008322-1027-CA Res. 001299-A-S1-2023).  The ruling shoots down INCOPESCA’s Commercial Species List (AJDIP – 290-2017) and declares its absolute nullity for having incorporated threatened shark species, and not only orders the Authorities to comply with the Wildlife Conservation Law and the Law of Biodiversity, but also to eradicate the fishing of hammerhead sharks, including incidental catch.

In the current lawsuit, lawyer Brenes is requesting the absolute nullity of articles 2 and 3 of Decreto Ejecutivo 43.900-MAG-MINAE of February 10, 2023 “Prohibition on the catch, retention, transshipment, landing, storing and commercialization of products and subproducts of hammerhead sharks Sphyrnidae”, as they authorize the incidental catch of hammerhead sharks, and demand the release of live specimens as an alleged conservation measure.

As expressed by the Supreme Court of Justice in its historic ruling, the targeted and incidental catch of hammerhead sharks has clearly acted in detriment of the species, and that allowing it renders other conservation measures ineffective, such as creating areas where the catch of the species is banned, but other fishery activities which also catch the species are allowed.  INCOPESCA asked the Supreme Court to clarify how they expected compliance with the mandate to eradicate the incidental catch of hammerhead sharks due to the impossibility of doing so, but the Court denied to even consider the claim last July 27 (Exp: 17-008322-1027-CA Res. 001299-A-S1-2023), as many methods to comply with the mandate were discussed during the public hearing.  Furthermore, the release of live hammerhead sharks is an ineffective conservation measure due to the particular high vulnerability of the species to fisheries.  In fact, studies performed in the Golfo Dulce on board small scale artisanal fishing vessels revealed a post-hooking mortality for the species of 85%.

“The State has continued to circumvent the order of the Supreme Court of Justice, which will lead to a greater detriment of threatened shark species”, denounced Brenes.

“Allowing the incidental catch of critically endangered hammerhead sharks is allowing over-fishing and extinction, a fact that has been well understood by the Supreme Court of Justice, but that INCOPESCA just doesn’t seem to want to understand”, lamented Brenes.

For biologist Randall Arauz, of Marine Watch International, there is no compliance whatsoever with the mandate of the Supreme Court of Justice.  “INCOPESCA continues to authorize the extraction and commercialization of threatened shark species, in violation not only of the Wildlife Conservation Act Law and the Law of Biodiversity, but also of the Fishery Law itself (article 140)”, denounced Arauz. “Do the authorities really expect us to accept that the violation of the law and disobedience of Court mandates are the way towards responsible and sustainable fishing?

For more information:

Randall Arauz
Marine Conservation Policy Consultant
(506) 87087 8253 | rarauz@marinewatch.org

Walter Brenes
Energy Law Firm
(506) 8995 3068 | wbrenes@elawf.com