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Costa Rica declares hammerhead shark species endangered

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Published on Wednesday, June 28, 2023
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services


The Costa Rican Justice declared three species of hammerhead sharks in danger of extinction through a ruling in which it stated that these animals are "one step away from becoming extinct."  

"The Sphyrna species is declared as a wildlife in danger of extinction according to scientific-technical criteria, and by legal provision, in the public domain," determined the judges of the Constitutional Chamber.

The ruling orders two public institutions, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute and the National System of Conservation Areas to incorporate the hammerhead shark species Sphyrna lewini, Sphyrna mokarran and Sphyrna zygaena on the list of endangered species.

Two of the three hammerhead shark species are listed as critically endangered and in "declining" populations on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

The court also warned public entities to adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to end the capture, retention, commercialization and unloading of these three species.

The ruling orders state institutions to take all steps to protect the hammerhead shark due to the critical and vulnerable state in which it is found.

The court requests that the necessary and indispensable administrative acts be issued "to completely eradicate the extraction of the hammerhead shark from national waters, prohibiting its capture, even incidentally." In addition, actions must be carried out in territorial waters, on land and in ports, to verify that the fishing of these species is not carried out.

According to the sentence, the temporary closures or the prohibition of fishing in the Dulce Golfo sanctuary, have not been enough to prevent incidental fishing of this animal. "Even with such prohibitions, a boat can capture hammerhead sharks alive, leave them dead and claim that they arrived dead on the boat, thus avoiding returning them to the waters."

The sentence establishes that a marine species, in this case the hammerhead shark three species included in the sentence, that live in Costa Rican waters holds the status of wildlife.

Therefore, exploitation, commercialization, fishing and including accidental fishing are illegal.


How will this sentence affect the sport fishing industry in Costa Rica? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments news@amcostarica.com