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Authorisation to export shark fins cancelled

Shark fin removal. (Photo:

Click on the flag for more information about Costa RicaCOSTA RICA
Thursday, March 05, 2015, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) clarified it will not grant authorisation to export hammerhead shark fins until the non-detriment removal ruling (DNP) is issued, an instrument that is expected to be completed within six months.
"There will be no export permits until the DNP is ready," stated Julio Jurado, SINAC director, in response to the fact that the Sea Turtle Recovery Programme (PRETOMA) questioned the permit granted to export 239 kilograms of common hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) and smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) fins.
In Costa Rica, the SINAC is the administrative authority of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora Species (CITES) and is the agency responsible for authorizing or denying the marketing of species listed in the three appendices of that treaty.
Common hammer, giant hammer (Sphyrna mokarran) and smooth hammerhead sharks: three species of hammerhead sharks were included in Appendix II in March 2013.
Such a listing would mean that trading is not prohibited, but it is regulated. In addition, the signatory nations of the convention -- among which is Costa Rica -- must ensure that the capture does not undermine the resource sustainability.
Therefore, countries require a DNP to be allowed to operate. This tool makes it possible to confirm that each trade does not harm the survival of the species, and it even sets use quotas to avoid reducing populations to a critical state, reported the newspaper La Nación.
Furthermore, the DNP includes the traceability of the fish product.
While Costa Rica expects to complete the DNP in six months, since last September CITES measure has been into effect for hammerhead sharks.
"We are not ignoring the DNP. On the contrary, in SINAC resolution, the Council of Representatives of CITES Scientific Authority (CRAC-CITES) is given a six-month deadline to issue it," Jurado stated.
Last December SINAC authorized the export of 411 kilograms of common and smooth hammerhead shark fins. And in January 2015, SINAC and CRAC-CITES received a second request, this time to export 239 kilograms of fins from both species.
On this second application, CRAC-CITES and SINAC disagreed: while the former considered it necessary to have the DNP, SINAC supported the export.
Jurado explained that they based their decision on the criterion of the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INCOPESCA) according to which the vessels that fished for sharks had been to sea before 14 September 2014, prior to the effective date of the CITES disposition date.
"Of all the unloaded fish, only 3 per cent represented hammerhead shark. Then, it was bycatch," he added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) clarified that "in Costa Rica hammerhead shark fishing is incidental."
"The two permits for hammerhead shark fin export that have been granted by SINAC, in its capacity as CITES Administrative Authority of Costa Rica, were given to the request of specific applications from exporting fishery product companies, considering the incidental nature of the fishery conducted, the traceability of the performed capture legality, socio-economic aspects of the fishery and the proof that the sharks were landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies," pointed out MINAE in a statement.
"It's not an authorization in general. In these cases, part of the capture occurred even before 14 September last year, the date of enactment of the effects of the addition of hammerhead sharks in CITES Appendix II," the ministry added.

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