| MANUEL ANTONIO, Costa Rica
MANUEL ANTONIO, Costa Rica Oct 10 Costa Rica on
Wednesday passed a blanket ban on shark finning, in which the
fins are sliced off sharks, often while they are alive, before
the fish are thrown back into the ocean to die.
President Laura Chinchilla signed an executive order banning
shark finning in the Central American nation's coastal waters,
closing loopholes in an existing law passed in 2001.
"Costa Rica may set an example to the world when it comes to
environmental protection, but it must be noted that we had a
significant lag when it comes to protecting the oceans,"
Chinchilla told reporters at a signing ceremony in Manuel
Antonio National Park on the country's Pacific coast.
The new order amends previous legislation that outlawed
shark finning but continued to allow the transportation and
importation of fins from other countries.
Penalties under the ban include fines and the cancellation
of fishing licenses for those who are caught finning sharks.
Catching sharks for food, as a means of subsistence, however,
will continue to be allowed.
Chinchilla also announced an investment of up to $15 million
in a new radar system that will allow authorities to better
identify boats breaking the ban.
Environmental activists have campaigned against shark
finning for years. They say it is cruel, and a threat to sea
life and the preservation of the oceans.
Shark fins are in high demand in Asian countries including
China and Japan, where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.