Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla signed a law-banning shark finning yesterday. The practice involves slicing off shark fins, often while the sharks are still alive and then throwing them back into the ocean to die. Costa Rica had loopholes in their previous legislation that banned the practice. It should also be noted that last week Costa Rica passed legislation banning hunting for sport. Huffington Post quoted President Chinchilla saying “Costa Rica may set an example to the world when it comes to environmental protection, but it must be noted that we have had a significant lag when it comes to protecting the oceans.”
The law amends previous legislation that prohibited shark finning but continued to allow the importation of fins from other countries that were then exported to Hong Kong. Hong Kong imports 10,000 tons of shark fins annually and then re-exports them to China handling 50% of the global fin trade. Shark Fin Soup is an Asian delicacy traditionally served at wedding parties and business banquets. 73 Million sharks are killed every year as result of shark finning increasing the number of species on the endangered species list. It is estimated that species populations have been reduced between 70% and 95% as a result of this practice.
This law marks a victory for environmental groups that have been campaigning against the cruel practice of shark finning for years now, and it comes on the heels of world leaders within the United Nations meeting to discuss international protection of biodiversity. Sir Richard Branson was among the chief critics and activists putting pressure on Costa Rica to impose stricter laws. Branson attended the press ceremony in Costa Rica yesterday and Sir Richard Branson said: “It was a truly historic day, which all environmentalists are celebrating. There are other battles to be fought, but this was such an important start and an important message to the rest of the world on this barbaric thing.” The issue has drawn international attention including charges against The Sea Shepard.
As reports of climate change and the data continues to come in showing that the situation is worsening quicker than people expected and time is running out before climate change will become a runaway train that can no longer be curbed, all eyes should be on Costa Rica as a model nation. As sea ice continues to melt, and our oceans and marine life are depleted, every nation must take responsibility. The environment transcends nation state borders. Protecting biodiversity ensures the health of the oceans and land on which humans depend on for survival. Yesterday’s law banning shark finning marks a major victory for biodiversity. Now it’s time to grab a rod or board and go celebrate! Crocodile Bay supports biodiversity and through the many wildlife tours offered through the resort, you can learn about the incrediblley diverse wildlife in the Osa Peninsual.