Costa Rica Is Not Doing Enough to Protect Diminished Shark Populations


After the Mission Blue expedition to Cocos Island this past spring, we’ve been shining a spotlight on the unfortunate overfishing of sharks in Costa Rica’s waters. We took a moment this past week to catch up with our valued partners at Marviva, who are based in Costa Rica and have been fierce advocates for marine conservation and sensible policy.

MB: How’s the situation on the ground?

Marviva: The situation with shark finning in the country has gotten worse even though the amount of sharks that have been landed and exported has been reduced in the last 5 years, from about 900 metric tons of 350 metric tons per year.

It is still a very worrisome problem for a few reasons. First, there is not good control on what has been landed and where it comes from. Second, the government recently made an agreement with the fisheries sector to not support the incorporation of new species of shark on protected lists if the shark species has commercial interest. This was also supplemented by a commitment of the government to petition carriers, like American Airlines and UPS, to reverse their ban on the transportation of shark fins in their cargo. Who knows if it will work. But that was the commitment they made to the fisheries.

MB: Why is the government doing this?

Marviva: The government’s position is that the shark is a very important fishery for the country. In volume, it is only second to mahi mahi. So, there is a social concern to maintain the shark industry. They are argue that shark finning is not the primary driver of the capture, but instead the shark meat. Of course we do not agree. If you consider that the market price is $60/kilo for shark fin and $1/kilo for shark meat, —> Read More