SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Yesterday, members of the Puntarenas Pacific Fishers Association sent a document to Don Ricardo Benavides, Presidential Minister, complaining of deficiencies and multiple irregularities committed by Incopesca favoring foreign vessels that arrive at Puntarenas to land shark products. The document took into account the public protest that occurred in front of the Incopesca offices on Tuesday where dozens of fishers expressed their discontent with Incopesca's Executive President Luis Dobles.
The document expressed fishers' concerns over the case against the Taiwanese vessel Wang Jia Men, whose activities raised serious questions over the illegal transfer of shark fins between boats at sea. Suspicions were raised after the vessel in question canceled its landing after arriving at the Fishery Terminal Dock sighting a better commercial offer in El Salvador.
Strangely, when the vessel returned five days later to land, its cargo manifest reported it had remained in Costa Rican waters. The inconsistencies continued when the seals that Incopesca officials placed on the vessels cargo holds were broken, something that should have only happened in the event the boat traveled outside of Costa Rican waters. Since the boat remained within territorial waters, only Incopesca inspectors can remove the seals. Despite the blatant breach of the law, Incopesca has maintained its indifference over the matter.
In addition, at least 4 foreign vessels have landed shark fins in Nicaragua and shipped them back into Costa Rica via Peñas Blancas in semi-trailers, according to environmentalists and the local press. Incopesca officials haven't shown interest in getting to the bottom of this issue either.
Among the national fishers requests is an indefinite moratorium on the landing of products destined for or in transit through Costa Rica by the foreign fleet at the Public Dock at Incopesca's Fishery's Terminal or at any other Costa Rican port. The fishers are also asking for a decree that immediately prohibits shark fin imports.
"National fishers are sick and tired of all of Incopesca's politics that clearly favor the international fleet and hurt the national fishing sector", said and upset Javier Catón, a representative of the National Fishery Commission. "Because of this we've taken our case to the Presidential Office because Incopesca has failed to uphold and protect our interests at attaining a sustainable national fishery".
"The national fishers' disgust is more than justified", said Randall Arauz of the environmental organization Pretoma. "We support these fishers' efforts to put a stop to the destructive presence of foreign shark finners in our country, and we're calling on the national authorities to work with other Central American countries to end the region's shark finning epidemic."
Other key points covered in the document to the Presidential Office include:
For more information, see www.pretoma.org.
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