Popular Initiative would return wildlife status to sharks in Costa Rica

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(San José, Costa Rica – January 29, 2020). Last Monday January 27, a bill was officially published in Costa Rica’s official Gazette to modify Article 1 of the country’s Wildlife Conservation Law, which would restore the Ministry of Environment (MINAE) as the entity charged with protecting them.


Sharks haven’t been considered wildlife in Costa Rica since May of 2017, when the State promulgated that they were commercial species of fish (DE 40379 MAG MINAE). Consequently, MINAE was stripped of its authority over sharks and the Wildlife Conservation Law could no longer be applied, delivering this authority to the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) with a mandate to apply the Fisheries Law for the alleged protection of sharks. Nonetheless, according to the justification of the bill to reform the Wildlife Conservation Law, DE 40379 MAG MINAE is contrary to the Principle of Non-Regression and the Precautionary Principle.

 “The Fisheries Law is a fisheries production law that has demonstrated, over and over again, that it is uncapable of stopping the overfishing and extinction process that sharks currently face,” affirmed Jeffry Madrigal of the Costa Rican non-profit Endangered Marine Species Rescue Center (CREMA). “Products of threated shark species are currently exported and consumed domestically, activities that would otherwise be restricted if the Wildlife Conservation Law was implemented,” denounced Madrigal. “Important jurisprudence was issued by the Constitutional Court when it banned the hunting of green turtles in 1999”, announced Randall Arauz, of the Colorado based non-profit Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation.

“The Constitutional Court ruled that an Endangered species could never be considered of commercial interest, and the doing so was a violation of the international wildlife conservation conventions that the country has signed and ratified,” recalled Arauz. “Sharks are essential for the health of marine ecosystems, and thus their continued capacity to provide the ecosystem services we demand as humanity,” explained Carolina Ramírez, director of the United for Sharks campaign. “Several benefits stem from the bill to modify the Wildlife Conservation Law, as it allows to procure the sustainability of fisheries, foster socio-economic development in coastal communities, and defend public health”, held Ramírez. 

The bill must now be assigned a Commission to initiate a consultation process. It is expected that within a matter of year the bill could be ready for a first plenary vote. For more information:

 Carolina Ramírez
Unidos por los Tiburones
+506 8813 6584

Randall Arauz
Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation
+506 8708 8253

Jeffry Madrigal
Centro Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas CREMA
+506 8859 6514

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