President Solis Don’t Promote the Extinction of Hammerhead Sharks

Honorable President of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís

We the undersigned, hereby respectfully express our disapproval of the recent permits granted by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) to export the fins of over 2000 hammerhead sharks to Hong Kong, as well as the unabated exportation of hammerhead shark fins for the next six months, against the best scientific information and in flagrant violation of the commitments acquired by Costa Rica during the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the intentions of which are to protect hammerhead sharks from extinction. We remind you that the hammerhead shark is listed as ENDANGERED by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the exportation of its fins to Asia for the elaboration of shark fin soup it is well acknowledged as its main threat. The most current scientific information available has demonstrates that the Eastern Tropical Pacific population of hammerhead sharks, where the Costa Rican fleet operates, is the world’s most threatened. This information was enough for the United States to promulgate a total ban on its capture, retention and commerce by listing under the Endangered Species Act, and for Ecuador to ban the capture of hammerhead sharks by its national longline fleet. The listing of hammerhead sharks under Appendix II of CITES (177 countries) in March of 2013, implies the need for scientific criteria guaranteeing sustainability, as well as traceability systems that guarantee abidance to domestic laws, if a country desires to export hammerhead shark products after September 14, 2014. Costa Rica has not abided by this commitment, in spite of which SINAC justifies its decision to ignore it on public interest grounds, claiming the measure would impact small scale artisinal fishers, and on the need to acquire improved information precisely to dictate efficient conservation measures in the future. The alleged public interest however, is not such, as the artisinal fleet catches newly born pups which are consumed domestically, because of which in this case CITES is irrelevant. Furthermore, using the lack of full scientific certainty as an excuse for postponing cost effective measures that would prevent the extinction of hammerhead sharks, is a clear violation of the Precautionary Principle, enshrined in the Rio Declaration of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992), and by Resolution 9.24 of CITES. These actions seriously undermine Costa Rica’s international image and credibility, as well as its capacity to lead similar processes in the future. Even worse, with these actions Costa Rica contributes directly to the extinction of hammerhead sharks. Thus, in the name of the best scientific information available, it is our opinion that you Mr. President Solís, must intervene and revoke Resolution SINAC-DE-011.