HomeNewsBriefCosta Rica Ruling Could Open Door to Shark Finning
BRIEF

Costa Rica Ruling Could Open Door to Shark Finning

COSTA RICA / 15 APR 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Conservationists in Costa Rica have reacted strongly to a court ruling that absolves a woman accused of shark “finning” and orders the compensation of a boat captain connected to the case, saying the judgment effectively serves to legitimize the illicit trade.

In an April 7 ruling, Judge Franklin Lara ordered the Costa Rican government to pay Su Hsien Feng over $6,600 for 652 fins confiscated and destroyed in 2011, after the ship he captained docked in the Pacific Puntarenas port with 332 shark skeletons on board, reported the Tico Times.

The judgment also exonerated the Taiwanese-Costa Rican owner of the fishing operation, Kathy Tseng, who was the first person to face prosecution for so-called shark “spining.” This technique involves leaving the fin attached to the shark’s spine, rather than removing it completely and tossing the animal back in the water. It takes advantage of a clause in Costa Rican legislation that requires fins to remain “naturally attached” to sharks’ bodies, reported the Tico Times.

The judge ruled Tseng’s company had remained within the limits of the law because they did not unload or sell the consignment. At the time of the seizure, Tseng claimed the meat had been used as bait and to feed the crew.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to conservationists, the ruling will essentially allow shark fin loads to be docked in Costa Rican ports, as long as they are not unloaded, making it effectively impossible to prosecute fishermen caught finning at sea.

Shark fins are a delicacy in Asia that fetch up to $700 per kilo, driving the practice in both Costa Rica and other parts of Latin America, such as Peru. Outcry over the inhumane nature of the trade — which sees the rest of the animal discarded — led Costa Rica to ban finning in 2012, but fishermen have continued to exploit legal loopholes, as seen in the present case.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

The continued legal ambiguities surrounding spining were underlined by Tseng’s insistence she did nothing wrong because the missing meat was all used. The judge’s stance that shark fin shipments only become illegal once they are unloaded also casts doubt over anti-finning operations at sea — with a large consignment of fins confiscated at sea less than a week before the ruling.

The ruling, if it holds, could tar Costa Rica’s reputation as a conservation and eco-tourism hub. In addition to the cruelty of the practice, finning has clear negative implications on shark populations: the Tico Times reports that more than 90 percent of some species have been wiped out over the past 15 years.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

COSTA RICA / 10 NOV 2016

A drug trafficking network linked to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel has been dismantled in Costa Rica, a sign that the country's…

COSTA RICA / 22 AUG 2013

Why did the seizure of a briefcase containing money on a secluded Costa Rican border cause so much concern to…

COSTA RICA / 4 OCT 2017

A new report shows the extent to which insecurity negatively affects the daily lives of Central American citizens, and provides…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…