Horrific legal loophole allows Costa Rica fishermen to fin sharks (warning: graphic)
Sharks are paying with their lives for this loopholeWhen you create a law to regulate something, there's always the danger that people will drive a truck through the loopholes, adhering to the letter of the law but not its spirit. When we wrote about Costa Rica banning shark finning last year, we couldn't have known what would happen...
An INTERPOL Purple Notice has been circulated for a modus operandi of the technique where only a band of skin to keep the fin attached to the spine is retained and the remainder of the body discarded at sea. This method is aimed at circumventing legislation banning finning which states that the fins of the shark must be ‘naturally attached’ to the body.
Why do fishermen do this? Because shark fins are a lot more valuable than the rest of the shark, so it's more profitable to fill your boat with just the fins. But now that there's a ban on just fins, they are circumventing the prohibition by keeping the fins attacked to the shark's spine, something that is totally against the spirit of the law.
INTERPOL's goal is to alert other governments about this method:
Head of NCB San José Gustavo Chinchilla said: “This is an opportunity to encourage other member countries to share types of modi operandi, in order to alert enforcement authorities to environmental crimes. I strongly believe that international cooperation and use of INTERPOL´s tools, such as Purple Notices, allow us to provide a more coordinated and effective response to addressing fisheries issues.”
The Purple Notice – to seek or provide information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals – was requested by Costa Rica following its first National Environmental Security Seminar (NESS) held in San José in August of this year.
Hopefully it is made clear to fishermen that this is not 'ok' and not legal and rules against shark finning are enforced. Poor sharks already have a hard time enough as it is...