Shark finning, the disgustingly gruesome process of catching a shark, cutting off its fin, and throwing the animal back into the water to die, has finally been banned in Costa Rica. This is huge for environmentalists, who have been pleading for the country to ban it for years.
Costa Rica has had laws in place protecting sharks since 2001, but certain loopholes, such as the importation of fins, still allowed finning to go down. The ban put in place by President Laura Chinchilla closes all of these loopholes, keeping sharks protected in Costa Rica’s coastal waters.
“Costa Rica may set an example to the world when it comes to environmental protection,” she said in an interview with Reuters, “but it must be noted that we had a significant lag when it comes to protecting the oceans.”
Those found breaking the law will risk hefty fines and/or the cancellation of their fishing license. There is also a new $15 million radar system to better catch those breaking the law.
Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy in upscale restaurants and on cruises, so shark meat is worth much less than the fin. Once sharks are thrown back into the water, they either die of suffocation or are eaten because they can no longer swim normally.
Environmentalists have been encouraging several nations to ban the controversial practice for quite some time, so the ban in Costa Rica is a huge win. Hopefully other countries will follow their lead; there are far more sustainable soup options out there.
Photos courtesy of Shawn Heinrichs for the Pew Environment Group