Hammerhead shark, © Barry Peters

Costa Rica Puts its Best Fin Forward

Last week there was some great news for the Sphyrna lewini species of hammerhead shark as Costa Rica awarded Appendix III CITES protection to the beleaguered species.

Found mostly along the coasts of its natural range in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans hammerhead shark fins are one of the most prized in Asian markets. Because these scalloped hammerheads swim in large schools, they are targeted by fisheries and particularly susceptible to overfishing.  The high commercial value of the shark’s fins combined with the low value of hammerhead shark meat has led to widespread finning of the species, a wasteful and often illegal practice in which the fins are severed only to have the shark thrown back into the ocean to die a slow, painful death.

Defenders of Wildlife worked closely with the Costa Rican government to secure this listing for the hammerhead shark, and while it is an important first step towards worldwide shark conservation more countries and their leaders must recognize that this wasteful practice must stop.

Click here to learn more about Defenders work on sharks.  

4 Responses to “Costa Rica Puts its Best Fin Forward”

  1. Cally smith

    Great news and not before time. This protection has to be monitored. The people (I use this term loosely) have to stop this ridiculous need to buy shark fins, it is plain ignorance and utterly stupid. Those who can fin a shark and throw it back to sea are truly despicable, no matter how much money they receive for doing it. This practice makes my stomach turn with sickness each time I think about it.

  2. JakeyM

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  3. Scott

    As a resident of Costa Rica, I am proud that the government has finally taken this step to protect these sharks, which exist in large numbers near the Isla de Coco (about midway between the Costa Rica coastline and the Galapagos. Also, Costa Rica has prohibited the shark fin trade (regardless of location of the catch), which was until very recently a major industry of the principal Pacific port. Additionally, in the wake of environmentalist Jairo Mora, the government has taken steps to provide more protection to nesting turtles and the turtle egg trade.

    Unfortunately, as has been pointed out above, enforcement is a very important factor. With a small coast guard and very limited funding, it is difficult for a small country to monitor such a vast expanse of territorial waters and coastlines. Conservation organizations such as Sea Shepherd should be welcome in this effort; however, that organization is not likely to provide assistance because its leader, Paul Watson is wanted by the Costa Rican government on apparently bogus charges made by a Costa Rican fishing vessel. Hopefully, we will continue to see progress in conservation enforcement in Costa Rica and its waters.

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