President Orders Customs to End Shark Finning and Foreign Vessel Landings at Private Docks

by | May 19, 2005

March 14, 2005 – San Jose, Costa Rica
On March 8, 2005, President Pacheco wrote to the Minister of Hacienda calling for an end to shark finning and foreign vessel landings at private docks.

He points out that in November 2004 the shark finning issue in Costa Rica had been solved by halting the landings of foreign vessels at private docks in Puntarenas.

However, states the President in the letter, “For some reason, unbeknownst to me, and against the conservationist philosophy of this government, this practice has begun again.” 

He then states, “I earnestly request that you take the necessary measures to stop this atrocity.”

For years it had been impossible to enforce shark finning bans and landings of shark fins in Costa Rica because foreign vessels were allowed to illegally land at private docks where State officials, do not have free access.  Landings by foreign vessels at private docks of up to 30 tons of shark fins resulted.  This activity was in direct violation of Costa Rican Customs law which clearly states foreign vessels must land at public docks where officials have free access and laws such as a ban on landing shark fins can be enforced.

Customs itself had been permitting the illegal landings by foreign vessels, but after years of pressure and petitioning from over 75,000 citizens, shark experts, and national and international organizations, Customs finally was forced to halt the illegal activity in November of 2004.

However, after complaints from Taiwanese private dock owners, during the Christmas Holidays, Customs, without notifying the President, quietly began allowing foreign vessels to illegally land once again at the private docks.

“The President joins the thousands of citizens who know that the only way to enforce a ban on shark finning is to stop the landings of foreign vessels at private docks,” says Randall Arauz, founder of PRETOMA.  “Customs Law prohibits foreign vessels from landing at private docks, because inspectors do not have free access and you cannot defend the public interest.  It is imperative for foreign vessels to land where the public interest can be protected and where the new Fishery Law, which includes a ban on shark finning, can be enforced.”

On March 11, 2005, PRETOMA wrote to the Minister of Hacienda, Señor Federico Carrillo Zürcher, asking what concrete steps he would take to halt the landings of foreign vessels at private docks.

PRETOMA (Programa Restauraci