Massive March in Costa Rica Against Shark Finning

On Friday, Sept. 17, 2004, Costa Ricans marched through the streets of Puntarenas, Costa Rica’s largest Pacific port, against shark finning and calling on Customs to enforce the national Customs law which says foreign vessels may not land at private docks.

The foreign vessel landings at private docks are a major concern due to the hundreds of tons of shark fins that these vessels land, and the fact that not even government inspectors have free access to the private docks to supervise the landings and protect the public interest.

The march was attended by students from schools in Puntarenas, national fishermen, members of the Puntarenas community, 15 NGOs as well as students and faculty from Costa Rica’s two largest universities.

The event began at the city’s Marine Park with presentations from grade school students such as dances and songs related to protecting the ocean, as well as short speeches from NGO leaders.

From Marine Park, all participants marched through the streets cheering and chanting various slogans:

"No to Shark Finning"
"Enforce the law in the Private Docks"
"Puntarenas Yes, Shark Finning No"
"Costa Rica Yes, Shark Finning No"
"Fishermen Yes, Shark Finning No"

The march and message were directed at Customs which invites foreign shark finning vessels to land at private docks in violation of the very Costa Rican Customs Law.

The marchers gathered round the Customs office waving banners and group chanting, "No to Shark Finning. Enforce the law in the Private Docks."

"By allowing foreign shark finning vessels to illegally land at private docks the Costa Rican government is promoting shark finning," said Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA. "And by promoting shark finning the Costa Rican government is doing two things: promoting the unsustainable depletion of ocean resources that our national fishermen need to make a living, and failing to protect the oceans for future generations of Costa Ricans."

"Fishermen and school children showed up today and called on Customs to do what’s best for Costa Rica," said Edgar Castrillo, PRETOMA Campaign Coordinator. "It is time for Customs and the Costa Rican government to

hear these voices and to take the simple step of enforcing the existing law to protect the public interest, protect our national fishermen and to protect the oceans for future generations."

To view pictures of the event please click the following links:

http://www.tortugamarina.org/downloads/MantaEstudiantes.jpg
http://www.tortugamarina.org/downloads/Marcha.jpg
http://www.tortugamarina.org/downloads/ParqueMarino.jpg
http://www.tortugamarina.org/downloads/Aduanas.jpg

PRETOMA is a Costa Rican non-profit, non-governmental, marine conservation organization that works to promote responsible fisheries and protect sea turtles, sharks and marine biodiversity. Contact info@tortugamarina.org.