Over 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins

Following years of pressure by environmental groups, Costa Rica has passed a comprehensive ban on shark finning, outlawing not only the practice itself, but also the importation and transportation of shark fins.

The executive order, which was signed by President Laura Chinchilla on October 10, closes loopholes in the country's existing legislation, which was passed in 2001 and did not include restrictions on the shark fin trade, reports Reuters. The new law imposes strict penalties on those caught finning sharks, such as fines and the loss of fishing licenses.

Pressure has mounted for years on the Costa Rican government to confront the problem, especially given the importance the country places on protecting its bountiful natural resources. According to La Nacion, up to 400,000 sharks were caught in 2011 off the coast of Costa Rica for the purpose of selling the fins, and since 2010 over 15 tons of shark fins have entered the country from Nicaragua.

InSight Crime Analysis

Shark finning -- in which a shark's fin is removed, often while the animal is still alive, and the rest of the body tossed back in the ocean -- is widespread along the coasts of Central America. Due to high demand in East Asia for shark fins to use in soup and in traditional medicine, shark fins now constitute a multi-million dollar industry. According to the Pew Environmental Group, shark fins can fetch up to $300 on the black market. Globally, over 70 million sharks are killed each year due to the fin trade.

Honduras has also taken steps to combat the illicit shark fin trade. In 2011, President Porfirio Lobo made Honduran waters a permanent shark sanctuary, outlawing all commercial shark fishing. In July of this year, the president burnt over 100 shark fins seized from illegal fishermen to demonstrate the government's commitment to protecting the country's many shark species.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.