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Costa Rica Advances in Legislation for Wildlife Protection

On October 10, 2012, President Laura Chinchilla signed a decree that strengthens the controls on shark finning in Costa Rican waters. Although shark finning is illegal in Costa Rica since 2001, some gaps in current legislation allow the sale of shark fins. The aim of the decree is to outlaw the import of shark fins to the country in order to avoid the sale and export.

The announcement was received with great joy by environmentalists, NGOs and hundreds of citizens who had sent letters to the Executive Power of the Republic to raise awareness of such painful practice. As expressed by Carol Corrales in a post for Rainforest Radio [es]:

El aleteo de tiburón es una práctica devastadora y cruel, donde los tiburones son mutilados para extraerles sus aletas, y luego devueltos al mar ya sin ellas, donde el animal muere después de sufrir una nefasta agonía

Shark finning is a cruel and devastating practice where sharks are mutilated to extract their fins, and then returned to the sea without them, where the animal dies after suffering a desperate agony

Shark

Shark Photo by Flickr user Philippe Guillaume, under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Positive comments reacting to the President signing the decree are visible on Twitter under the hashtag #NOALALETEO (“No to finning”). Such is the case of Marianela Castro (@necascru) [es] who tweeted:

@necascru:#noalaleteo Cero tolerancia al aleteo! que la ley se cumpla! Arriba las criaturas de nuestros mares! Vida libre a nuestra biodiversidad! #CR

@necascru: #noalaleteo Zero tolerance for finning! May the law be executed! Long live the creatures of our seas! Free life to our biodiversity! #CR

But this is not the only good news in the field of wildlife protection for Costa Ricans. On October 2, the Legislative Assembly approved the first reading of a reform for the Wildlife Conservation Law, which proposes the elimination of hunting sports in the country. The project was sponsored by the Association for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna (Aprelofas) and if it is approved in the second debate, Costa Rica would be the first nation in Latin America to criminalize this practice.

This project was supported by the citizens with up to 177,000 signatures in a petition that formed an important endorsement for the law. Under the motto “Hunting is Killing,” a large number of supporters joined the popular initiative, which is the first one at a national level to reach the Congress.

The blog “Generación Rebelde” (Rebel Generation) [es] describes the event as “a party for wildlife” [es] and finishes its post with a statement:

“Nosotros lo celebramos. Y nos disponemos a estar vigilantes para que cualquier intento por derogarla sea desechado y para que se cumpla al pie de la letra.”

“We celebrate it. And we will be vigilant so that any attempt to invalidate the law are discarded and so that it is observed to the letter.”

Congressmen who opposed the law in the first debate received strong criticism. As Susan wrote in Maecr’s blog [es]:

“En Costa Rica, matar animales silvestres para comer? En la edad de piedra quizás. El asunto de la caza deportiva y sus intereses, es el que entre palabras rebuscadas probablemente trata de esconder.
[…]
Se aproximan elecciones, quizás la mayoría no las siente tan cerca, pero es importante reflexionar y decidir bien a quienes les entregamos el poder, qué sujetos se van a sentar cómodos, con buenos salarios a elegir y decidir por TODOS los demás”

“In Costa Rica, killing wildlife to eat? Perhaps in the Stone Age. The issue of sport hunting and hidden interests relies between big words where they are probably trying to hide it.
[...]
National Elections are approaching, maybe most of the people do not feel it that close, but it is important to think and wisely decide who would we rather grant power to, who will just comfortably sit there, with good salaries, to choose and decide for EVERYONE else”

Tweets about the law can be read under the hashtag #LeydeVidaSilvestre [es] (Wildlife Law).

Sloth in Costa Rica

“Hanging Around”. Photo by Flickr user marissa_strniste, under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

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