Costa Rica’s INCOPESCA and System for Conservation Areas (SINAC), has given permission for the export of hammerhead fins, a protected shark species.

One of these permits (number 1,118) was given to the company Smalley Development SA to export these fins to Hong Kong, to be distributed throughout Asia, for soup.

Environmental protection agencies Pretoma and Marviva reported that on December 24 the first shipment of 411 kilos of shark fins was sent and now there is another shipment ready with 1,200 kilos of fins, equivalent to 2,000 dead sharks.

Randall Arauz from Pretoma said this is a terrible global image of Costa Rica, a country that fought for hammerhead sharks to be included on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES).

Arauz clarifies that the country could nullify the agreement by presenting scientific studies confirming that this export does not threaten the shark population. However, these studies have not been submitted.

Jorge Jimenez, the general director of Marviva, says both Incopesca as SINAC must provide good and legal arguments to justify the killing of these sharks.

Both marine protection organizations sent letters to the Ministry of Environment and President Luis Guillermo Solis asking them to retract the permits.

Even former Costa Rica president José María Figueres asked President Luis Guillermo Solis to correct this decision through his Twitter account.

(Translation: Mr President @luisguillermosr Please correct decision INCOPESCA and SINAC, which authorizes d hammerhead shark finning. This affects CR.)

Julio Jurado, CEO of SINAC, says these permits were issued based on criteria and rationale presented by INCOPESCA who argued it’s a matter of “public interest”, claiming fishermen in coastal areas will benefit from the extra shark finning contracts.

Marviva is emphatic that this argument does not justify any of these shark killing permits.

The press office said that on Monday SINAC would expand their explanation on passing these permits and the alleged “public interest” that has allowed such exploitation.