Costa Rica ‘stop killing sharks’

The Colombian Foreign Ministry has contacted its Costa Rican counterpart so that together they can clear up the slaughter of thousands of sharks in Colombian territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean, officials said.

“We have already contacted the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry to inform them of the investigation and keep them up to date on its progress, so that together we can clear up what happened as soon as possible,” the ministry said.

“The appropriate inquiries” are being conducted, the ministry said, adding that the navy is attempting to reach Malpelo Island, an offshore territory in whose waters the massive killing took place.

About 2,000 sharks died after their fins were cut off by fishermen, presumably Costa Ricans who entered the area, presidential biodiversity adviser Sandra Bessudo said last week.

The slaughter was reported by some Russian scuba divers visiting the island that UNESCO has declared a Natural World Heritage Site for the richness of its flora and fauna, Bessudo said.

The divers said they had seen some 10 Costa Rican fishing boats in the area, accordng to Bessudo, who for a year was director of the Malpelo Foundation, a non-governmental organization that works on behalf of the island and its biodiversity.

“The information we have is that they could have been private fishing boats whose place of origin has not yet been confirmed,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Colombia, besides rejecting any actions that threaten the survival of the species, has a national regulation that bans harvesting sharks’ fins plus a comprehensive plan for the management and conservation of sharks, rays and chimeras, the ministry said.

Colombia is a signatory of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, the ministry said, adding that last month the country also signed a declaration supporting the Global Shark Conservation Initiative as a commitment to help save the species.