By Eric Robinson
Once again the Costa Rica government has shot itself in the foot. The abuse of sharks has put all of us in the Costa Rica hotel industry and other tourism sectors in an uncomfortable position. Former President Abel Pacheco was caught (but never prosecuted because he owned the judges) receiving illegal donations through a Panama bank account from Taiwan, a nation with an insatiable taste for $60 per bowl shark fin soup.
For years, Taiwan, and others have been allowed to unload illegal shark fins into Costa Rican docks without inspection, though laws prohibit such practices. Obviously new President Oscar Arias is slow on the uptake and continues to permit the cruel and lucrative practice of cutting off shark’s fins then throwing the live body back in the seas to agonize a long painful death. Director and narrator Rob Stewart, a biologist and videographer by training, has released his movie, ‘Sharkwater’, throughout the United States and Canada, smearing Costa Rica’s ‘green image’, and justifyably so.
In a weak and unsubstantiated attempt to cover up the government’s inadequacies, the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) says that the information is outdated. Yet envoronmentalists claim the practice continues unabated as the law is unenforceable when there are no public docks capable of accepting the small boats used by shark fishermen, nor have funds been provided to pay inspectors to go to private docks. Now government officials want Stewart to add a scene or text to his movie explaining the new fisheries laws (which aren’t enforced) and the ‘progress’ the Costa Rican government has been making since the filming of the movie. This is in line with the typical Tico reaction to anything that needs to be fixed, they do absolutely nothing until you offend them.
Stewart apparently balks at the suggestion and I just shake my head at these government idiots, too little, too late, and from all of us trying to make a living in the Hotel industry of Costa Rica and all other tourism sectors, thanks for nothing! But far worse to me is the on-going turturous treatment these majestic animals are slowly dying from. The Costa Rican government selfish, gutless and the epitomy of the Peter Principle, where everyone rises within the bureaucracy to their level of incompetence, some rise even above that point.