Authorities in Costa Rica have identified a new method used by fishermen to circumvent a ban on killing sharks for their fins.
According to an INTERPOL alert, fishermen are now leaving a band of skin to keep the fin attached to the spine when they kill sharks. This approach takes advantage of an apparent loophole in regulations governing the shark fin trade.
“This method is aimed at circumventing legislation banning finning which states that the fins of the shark must be ‘naturally attached’ to the body,” said INTERPOL in a dispatch known as a Purple Notice, which provides information on approaches used by criminals to further their trade.
Shark finning technique where only a band of skin to keep the fin attached to the spine is retained and the remainder of the body discarded at sea. This method is aimed at circumventing legislation banning finning which states that the fins of the shark must be ‘naturally attached’ to the body. Images courtesy of INTERPOL.
INTERPOL is currently targeting fisheries crime under “Project Scale”. The international police network estimates that fisheries crime costs the global economy $23 billion dollar a year.
The shark fin industry has surged since the 1990’s due to rising consumption in East Asia, where shark fin is considered a delicacy and believed to have curative properties. But campaigns over the past two years, coupled with a series of countries, states, and municipalities banning the sale and trade of shark fin, seem to have diminished demand as measured by falling prices for shark fin in Hong Kong and Chinese markets.
Nonetheless the toll of the fin trade on sharks is still immense: more than 30 million — and up to 100 million — sharks are thought to be killed on an annual basis.
Great White Shark in South Africa. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
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