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

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...