11 Conservation organization call for convening bill 21.754 to a Plenary Vote
(San José, Costa Rica – August 2, 2022). A coalition of 11 nature conservation Non-Government-Organizations (NGOs) called last Monday on members of the Legislative Assembly to convene, during the next ordinary sessions, the bill titled “Reform of Paragraph 4, of Article 1, of the Wildlife Conservation Law (#21.754)”, which would ensure effective protection for the threatened shark species that are currently fished and commercialized in the country.
According to official records, between 40-50% of the national longline fleet’s landings consist of threatened shark species, acknowledged as such by the National System of Conservation Areas (R-SINAC-CONAC-008-2021), and which are furthermore protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Both the Wildlife Conservation Law (WCL) in its articles 14 c) and 75, and the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (FAL) in its article 140, prohibit the capture and commercialization of these species. However, the extraction and commercialization of threatened shark species is currently carried out under the tutelage of the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), without any quota or size restrictions whatsoever, under the alleged authority granted to the institution through Executive Decrees (4379 of 4 May 2017 and 42842 of 18 February 2021) that argue that threatened shark species are not wildlife but commercial species.
The coalition of NGOs point to several flaws in the enactment of these Executive Decrees.
- According to constitutional jurisprudence (Res: 1999-01250 19/2/1999), the hunting and commercialization of an Endangered species that is listed under Appendix I of CITES, in this case the green turtle, is unconstitutional as it consists of a violation of CITES and the Precautionary Principle.
- Article 14 of CITES allows a country to adopt domestic policies that are more restrictive than the convention itself, including a total ban on trade.
- Regulations such as Executive Decrees are used to contradict and violate the provisions of higher legislation, such as the WCL and the FAL, which constitutes a violation of the Principle of Hierarchy of Laws.
“As a result of these contradictory policies, it has been impossible for Costa Rica to define and adopt effective conservation policies for threatened shark species,” explained Costa Rican biologist Randall Arauz of Marine Watch International, a San Francisco, California based NGO. “Reforming Article 1, paragraph 4 of the WCL would provide the much-needed strict protection for threatened shark species, which would be consistent with the WCL, the FAL, CITES and the Constitution of the Republic, and would provide Costa Rica with the moral authority to lead global marine conservation processes, precisely what the world expects from our country,” said Arauz.
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