The Government of Costa Rica prohibited this past Wednesday the fishing and commercialization of the hammerhead shark, considered an endangered species and that previously only its export was prohibited in the country.
The President of the Republic, Rodrigo Chaves Robles, and his Ministers of Environment and Energy, Franz Tattenbach, and of Agriculture and Livestock, Víctor Carvajal, signed the decree on February 8th that prohibits the capture, retention on board, transshipment, unloading, storage and marketing of products and by-products of the three species of hammerhead sharks in the country: Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna zygaena and Sphyrna mokarran.
The decree establishes that when incidental catches of these sharks occur, fishermen must release them promptly and unharmed to the extent possible, as well as record the data to inform the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Incopesca).
A milestone for Costa Rica
President Chaves explained at a press conference that there was a conversation with fishermen’s organizations and they agreed to this measure. For his part, Minister Tattenbach stressed that this decree is “a milestone for Costa Rica” and is in accordance with the country’s policies and international commitments for the protection of the oceans.
High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People
Costa Rica is a member of the Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) and is one of the biggest promoters together with France and the United Kingdom of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, whose objective is that by 2030 it is protected at least 30% of the land areas and 30% of the world’s seas.
The authorities stressed that sharks are special for the country, since they are printed on local currency notes, there are sanctuaries for their protection and because thousands of tourists visit the country to observe them underwater. Hammerhead sharks have significant populations in Costa Rica in places like Isla del Coco and Golfo Dulce.
The Isla del Coco National Park, a World Heritage Site, is home to the largest congregations of hammerhead sharks Sphyrma lewini in the world in the Pacific, while in the Golfo Dulce, it was declared a Hammerhead Shark Sanctuary in 2018 in order to protect the species.