The following letter was sent to the Congresspeople on Costa Rica’s Environmental Commission. [Stay tuned for an action alert to easily allow our supporters to communicate a similar message. Not on our action alert list? Click here ]

20 September 2023

Environment Commission Costa Rican Congress

RE: Bill N° 21.754

Honorable Congressperson,

Turtle Island Restoration Network, an international conservation organization with over 160,000 supporters worldwide, and has been active in the conservation of marine resources of Costa Rica since the 1990s.

We are dismayed to learn that Bill N° 21.754, which modifies article 1, paragraph 4 of the Wildlife Conservation Law has failed to pass. We strongly urge you to reconsider and return and pass this bill to bring Costa Rica into compliance with its own laws and its international treaty obligations.

As you are aware hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silky sharks are currently listed under the National System of Protected Areas’ (SINAC) Endangered and Threatened Marine Coastal Wildlife Species List. To continue to permit extraction and commercialization of these species is contrary to Costa Rica’s own laws (Wildlife Conservation Law, articles 14c and 7, the Fishery Law, article 14p0, and to Constitutional Court jurisprudence, Exp: 98-003684-0007-CO Res: 1999-01250, 19/2/1999.
The recent ruling of the 1st Court of Appeals of the Supreme Court of Justice (Exp. 17-008322-1027-CA Res. 000912-F-S1-2023, 21/6/2023) corroborates that legal finding, and resolved that sharks must be regulated as “wildlife,” and not as a commercial species (AJDIP 290- 2017).

Moving forward with action to protect sharks will also allow Costa Rica to honor its treaty obligations of under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and other international agreements designed to
protect endangered species. This is critical to protect these internationally
recognized species including s the two species of hammerhead shark (critically
endangered), two species of threshers sharks, pelagic (endangered) and bigeye
and silky sharks (vulnerable) who are threatened by international trade, and who are highly migratory and need of international protection as the migrate through the sovereign waters of several nations.

Failing to do so will tarnish Costa Rica’s historic reputation in the international conservation community.
Please move swiftly to protect Costa Rica’s endangered marine wildlife and your nation’s obligations and status as a world leader of conservation.

Todd Steiner
Executive Director