Target: Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica
Goal: End support for the cruel and ecologically-devastating practices of shark finning and shark spining
Shark hunting has risen to a new level of destruction in many parts of the world, fueled by a demand for the highly-valued shark fins used in many dishes. Many fishers have started hunting sharks purely for their fins. After severing them from the still-living creatures the hunters discarding the sharks back into the water, causing them excruciating pain and leading to a dangerous imbalance in their marine ecosystems.
Fishermen depend on this practice to decrease the space that sharks take on their ships, enabling them to acquire a larger number of shark fins which are worth far, far more than the shark meat itself. Sharks killed for their fins usually die slowly, either bleeding to death or being eaten alive by other sharks attracted to their excessive bleeding.
Shark finning is not only agonizingly painful for sharks, but it has a disturbing ripple effect on ocean ecosystems. Numerous studies have confirmed that more than 90% of some shark species have been eradicated by this cruel practice in just the last 15 years.
Since 2005 Costa Rica has partially banned the practice of shark finning. Unloading shark fins that have been detached from sharks’ bodies was made illegal. However some fishermen have started side-stepping the law by turning to the practice of shark “spining,” cutting away all parts of the shark except for the spine and fins attached by pieces of flesh. This method allows the fishermen to still save room on their boats and capture large, unsustainable numbers of sharks on each hunting trip. The results are the same.
Kathy Tseng, a Taiwanese-Costa Rican businesswoman, used the shark spining technique and in 2011 was caught unloading just the shark spines with fins attached. Tseng’s case was the first instance of shark spining to be prosecuted. Judge Franklin Lara absolved Tseng of all charges, since she had not unloaded and sold solely shark fins. This verdict has alarmed nature conservation groups since it explicitly indicates the loophole in the shark finning ban and encourages other hunters to take up shark spining without consequence.
If these atrocious shark hunting practices continue many species will be driven to extinction. Whole marine ecosystems will continue to deteriorate. Urge the Costa Rican government to ban the ecologically harmful practice of shark spining, which is essentially shark finning in a different form.
Dear President Solís,
It was disconcerting to read about the court verdict in the shark spining case of Kathy Tseng. The clear loophole in the shark finning law was exposed by the verdict in her case, encouraging other shark hunters solely interested in the creatures’ fins to take up the terrible practice.
Shark spining contributes to the decline of shark populations and leads to the deterioration of their marine ecosystem. Sharks are an integral part of the food web and the astonishing decrease of these creatures leads to an overall imbalance. This also indirectly affects humans. Hatchery fish populations are also decreasing at a shocking rate as stingrays and other creatures usually kept in balance by sharks begin attacking farmed fish in increased numbers.
Something needs to be done to stop the practice of shark spining, which is essentially shark finning in a different form. I urge you to explicitly ban shark spining in your country to prevent these harmful effects on marine ecosystems and the many creatures–including humans–which depend on them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Cloneofsnake via Flickr