It was about ten years ago that I first wrote an article about the truly disgusting, but lucrative business of shark finning Costa Rica Shark Finning – British celebrity chef “doused in petrol” and today, I am delighted to report some good news

This revolting method of shark fishing is illegal in many parts of the world however, even though it is strictly illegal off the coast of Costa Rica, it has been very difficult to enforce the law but thankfully, this appears to be changing.

For those of you unfamiliar with this barbaric activity, shark finning entails catching a shark, cutting of it’s dorsal fin (that triangular fin on its back that slices through the water in the standard shark-scare scenario), and discarding the rest of the shark. The wounded shark then sinks to the bottom of the sea and “either bleeds to death, or they drown, because sharks can’t swim without fins, and they need to go forward to get oxygen.”


Gordon Ramsay’s Shark Finning in Costa Rica Video


Although this case goes back to October 2011, it was only this week that a Taiwanese businesswoman Hue Ju Tseng Chang – known as Kathy Cheng who is the legal representative of the Wan Jia Men 88 fishing boat – was sentenced to six months in prison for unloading 652 sharks fins and ordered to pay c3,000,000 colones. This sounds like a lot of money but it is in fact a little more than $5,000.

This is an historic moment because for the first time in Costa Rica’s history someone has been criminally charged and convicted of shark finning.


Shark Finning’s Bloody Facts.


  1. According to Steven Galster, WildAid co-director; “In Costa Rica, the shark population has declined by 80% in the past ten years, while the rate in North America is as high as 90% in the past 15 years.”
  2. “I cannot imagine a more barbaric practise than cutting fins from a shark and then abandoning it to die.” Mark Bradshaw – UK Fisheries Minister.
  3. There are various estimates but shark finning is responsible for the deaths of approximately 100 million sharks last year so this is a BIG problem – for the sharks and supposedly there are 120 boats from Taiwan that are engaged in “finning” sharks off the coast of Central America, including Costa Rica and Mexico.
  4. Believe it or not, even Disneyland was going to serve shark fin soup at one time but thankfully Disneyland in Hong Kong later announced that they would not be serving this controversial dish.
  5. According to Carlos Fuentes Bolaños, Professor, School of Health Technology in Costa Rica: “… officially we exported 533 tons of shark fins in 2003, a figure which is incomplete given that we have no record of the fins landed by foreign vessels in clandestine operations at unauthorized docks. Imagine the number of sharks you need to kill just to arrive at 533 tons of fins.”
  6. Did you know that sharks are one of the oldest creatures on Earth? They have dominated the oceans for more than 400 million years. “In fact it is more dangerous to play golf than to swim in the ocean with sharks. More golfers are struck by lightning and killed each year than the total number of shark fatalities.”
  7. Human beings are skilled at justification. Every year humans slaughter over 100 million sharks (according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) yet we depict them as vicious and blood-thirsty killers.” And “…and many populations may face extinction.”
  8. Many fish take only a couple of years to reach maturity but; “sharks take many years to reach maturity. There are about 400 species of sharks and some may not begin to reproduce until they are over 15 years old.” We have more in common with them than you thought eh?
  9. That’s 100,000,000 sharks killed to take their fins which make up about 4 – 7% of their body weight… And some experts believe “that’s just half the total, because another half is unreported.”

What Can You Do?

In the past I have donated online to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and would like to encourage you to do the same. You can make a tax deductible donation and become a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, (a registered 501C3 charity).


Please click here to donate to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society!

Or, you can visit PRETOMA (Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas) is a Costa Rican non-profit, non-governmental, marine conservation organization that works to promote sustainable fisheries and protect sea turtles, sharks and marine biodiversity.

Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica Real Estate Scams & How To Avoid Them, 3. Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore and 4. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Raices en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?

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