Costa Rica Prepares to Export 10 Tons of Hammerhead Shark Fins

Ten tons of hammerhead shark fins, stored in Inversiones Cruz S.A’s warehouses, are awaiting export approval from the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INCOPESCA).

Ten tons of hammerhead shark fins have been in storage in Costa Rican warehouses since March 1 of 2015, when the government issued a ban on the export of hammerhead shark fins as part of its Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) obligations. The fins were obtained and stored during the export ban and any attempt to export them is considered a violation of CITES. Thousands of individuals and 22 Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) from around the globe are petitioning the government to stop any export attempt.

In 2013, the Costa Rican government led an international campaign to list endangered hammerhead sharks under Appendix II of CITES, in an effort to limit international trade of shark products and improve hammerhead shark conservation in Costa Rica.

Cocos Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off Costa Rica, is famous for its population of Scalloped hammerhead sharks. The island is visited by numerous tourists from around the globe each year, wanting to experience the island’s premier shark diving and world-class Costa Rica liveaboard diving.  Cocos Island is vulnerable to illegal shark fishing in and around its protected waters and the Scalloped hammerhead is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This hammerhead shark species, along with other hammerhead species, is in dire need of protection; both to secure the health of Costa Rica’s ocean ecosystem and the thriving marine tourism industry.

‘In March 1 of 2015, Costa Rica became one of the world’s few countries to ban the export of hammerhead shark fins. In spite of this bold and visionary step, the ban has had no positive impact on hammerhead shark conservation,’ stated Isabel Naranjo, the president of CREMA, a Costa Rican non-profit marine conservation organisation, in a letter to the President of Costa Rica dated February 19, 2018.

Naranjo explains ‘the Costa Rican Fishery authority, INCOPESCA, has allowed fishing efforts upon hammerhead sharks to continue at their current unsustainable levels, resulting in a stockpile of over 10 tons of hammerhead shark fins (possibly even 20 tons) in the port city of Puntarenas, waiting for a future approval to export.’

The letter, written on behalf of 12,000 individuals and well-known global NGOs including WildAid, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Fins Attached, urges the government to stop any attempts to export hammerhead sharks by issuing a Presidential Decree to permanently ban the export of stockpiled fins.

According to CITES, Costa Rica must determine if it is possible to remove hammerhead sharks from their natural environment without putting the species population at risk, or confirm if the international trade in hammerhead sharks from Costa Rica should be banned. Studies performed by Costa Rica’s CITES Scientific Authority Representative Council in 2015 and 2017 both confirmed it was not possible to export fins sustainably.

The government has since determined the sharks are not protected under the Wildlife Conservation Law and have granted the Costa Rican fisheries authority INCOPESCA the authority to undertake its own study. The results of this study will be released in March 2018.

“Obviously, INCOPESCA will recommend that fin exports be resumed, despite two panels composed of the country’s best scientists indicating that the activity cannot be done sustainably”, said Randall Arauz from the USA based organization Fins Attached. “Once again, Costa Rica is evading its CITES obligations in order to favor private interests, in this case the shark fin exporter, in detriment to the public’s interest and of course hammerhead sharks”

This article was written by divers and writers for Liveaboard.com.

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Looking for a House in Costa Rica? Visit Expoconstrucción this Weekend

Costa Rica News – Expoconstrucción 2018 brings together 260 housing projects in the metropolitan area, San Carlos, Guanacaste and Puntarenas.

The fair started on Wednesday and will go until February 25th.

It takes place at the Pedregal Events Center. The cost is ₡1,000 for today and tomorrow and then ₡2,000 for Saturday and Sunday. It will be open 1pm to 10pm tomorrow and Friday and then 10am to 8pm on the weekend.

There are over 700 stands of companies offering new houses or materials to remodel and expand houses. Expoconstrucción offers a portfolio of 115 options for buying housing in buildings, 95 horizontal options and 50 projects for the sale of lots. 16 financial entities will be present to offer different credit options to buy or remodel.

The most affordable option is Los Frutales, in Orotina. Lots start at $20,000 and homes at $60,000.

An income level of ₡625,000 is required. The most exclusive, luxurious options are from Kirebe, in towns in the West of San Jose.

They can exceed $1 million. The same company offers studios in buildings at $120,000.

Severe Turbulence Injures 2 Aboard Air Canada Flight to Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – Two people were taken to hospital after an Air Canada Rouge flight encountered turbulence on the way to its destination in Costa Rica.

AC1806 was en route to San Jose when it encountered severe turbulence approximately 90 minutes into the flight, according to data from Flightradar24.com.

The plane then turned around just over Asheville, North Carolina and returned to Pearson airport, where it landed without incident.

Peel Paramedics say two flight attendants were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Air Canada says passengers have since departed to San Jose on another aircraft.

From Toronto City News

Manqala; Beers & Table Games in San Jose, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Entertainment – Manqala is one of the best bars in San Jose.

It opened last December with the idea of offering craft beers and over 250 table games to the clientele. Playing a table game is a great way to meet people.

The bar is in Barrio Dent, 100 meters south of the Cultural Center. The atmosphere is pleasant and fun. Alejandro Quirós is the administrator. He is a big fan of table games, with 110 games in his personal collection.

He based the idea for the bar on the Canadian restaurant Snakes and Laggers. He partnered with Roy González and Carlos Camacho and the rest was history. A bar where you can enjoy boards, dice and cards was born.

Interestingly, the place has staff dedicated to explain how to play the games. The waiters wear black and those in gray make game recommendations and explain the rules. Fine craft beers complete the picture.

Kenneth Tencio to Represent Costa Rica in Urban Cycling World Championships

Costa Rica Entertainment – Kenneth Tencio will represent Costa Rica and face off against the world champion in freestyle of the X-Knights, Australian Martin Logan.

Martin was the first winner in the history of the Urban Cycling World Championships.

Kenneth “Pollis” Tencio won the last three editions of the BMX freestyle modality in the Knights. He has excellent technique and a refined, explosive style. His tricks and combinations, like the Flip Whip and Tailwhip, are so smooth they appear effortless.

This will be the fourth edition of the event and it will feature five competitors, including Vince Byron, who won two golds, five silvers and two bronzes in the X Games. The world elite will impress us. Each driver will make two passes on the track. The three best scores advance to the final. The X-Knights 2018 will also include the Striders children’s competition.

Fans can purchase tickets at www.eticket.cr and at Servimás points of sale. The cost is from ¢12,000 to ¢35,000.

Cranes At Costa Rica Shipping Port Still Not Functioning

Costa Rica News – On August 29th we all saw the arrival of two Post-Panamax cranes to the port of Moín, Limón.

The press was there along with neighbors and multiple government authorities. The Port Administration and Economic Development Board of the Atlantic Coast (Japdeva) invited them.

The equipment left China on June 22. It is valued at $16 million and was purchased with the aim of increasing the number of containers that Japdeva moves per hour and thus increasing the entity’s revenues.

However, five months later the cranes are not being used due to electrical and mechanical problems. For every day they are not in use, the port entity loses out on $25,000 for loading and unloading of boats in Limón dock.

The supplier of the equipment has not been able to bring the spare parts from Spain because the failures coincided with Christmas. The contractor will solve the problem around the third week of February.

Costa Rica’s 1st Gay Marriage Suffers Bureaucratic Hitch

Costa Rica News – SAN JOSE (Reuters) – Costa Rica’s first same-sex wedding has been blocked by notaries who are refusing to recognize it until laws forbidding gay marriage are changed, setting them at odds with the president.

The marriage between two men was set for this Saturday after a top Latin American human rights court earlier this month ruled that countries in the region should legalize same-sex unions, pushing back against opposition from the Roman Catholic church.

The Inter-American Court, based in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, recommended that those rights be upheld via temporary decrees while governments pursue permanent laws.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis then directed government agencies to apply the ruling until lawmakers or the constitutional court formally adopt new laws.

However, the notary council of the Central American country said on Friday it would only authorize such unions if the local legislature or the court annul laws outlawing gay marriage.

“The rules that regulate marriage in Costa Rica … remain in force,” the council said, telling notaries to abide by them.

The court’s decision has triggered debate ahead of Costa Rica’s presidential election on Feb. 4, with some candidates vowing to fight it.

Solis is barred by law from seeking a second consecutive term.

Several Latin American countries, including predominantly Roman Catholic Costa Rica, still do not allow same-sex marriage.

However, that is changing, and in recent years same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and some parts of Mexico.

“There’s nothing stopping the road to equality, but the truth is we don’t know how long it will take to get there,” said Larissa Arroyo, an attorney representing the couple in Costa Rica who planned to marry on Saturday.

The country’s Justice Minister Marco Feoli said in a statement that the notary council’s stance went against both the executive branch and the Inter-American Court.

Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dave Graham and Grant McCool

Mafalda Coming to Costa Rica

Costa Rica Entertainment – Mafalda, a famous caricature who has been loved for over five decades, has been in the Children’s Museum since December and the exhibition has been extended giving us a chance to see it until January 28th.

5,000 people have seen The World According to Mafalda so far and it’s been a hit. The 650 square meter exhibition has 13 modules where old and young can rediscover the beginnings of the comic strip and immerse themselves in Mafalda’s world.

It carries themes of the analytical power of the question and investigation and making a change as a society.

It can be seen during the normal museum hours and also at a special activity called Soup Night, in which visitors will enjoy a special soup menu, music from the 70s, a guided tour of the 13 modules, a souvenir, and some surprises.

This will be offered on a few nights, for 50 visitors per night.

Tickets can be purchased at www.museocr.org/boleteria.

Watch Your Bags When Travelling in Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – Tourists are warned not to leave valuables in their cars when they go to the beach.

It’s common sense really. Leaving expensive things in an isolated place is just asking for trouble.

It’s a very common crime here for someone to break into cars to take belongings easily seen from the outside. Leave your suitcases in the hotel or in the trunk where they cannot be seen.

A guy was caught and apprehended on Wednesday night by officers of the Tourist Police after he stole three suitcases from a group of American tourists by breaking the window of their vehicle parked near the beach.

This happened in the center of Quepos. He was seen carrying the suitcases in a suspicious manner. Once recovered the suitcases were returned to their owners.

The suspect was brought to the Prosecutor’s Office to be investigated.

Route 27 Tolls Increasing On January 1st

Costa Rica News – If you are headed from San Jose to Jaco Beach you might want to head there or back before the 1st of January or you can not worry about the less than $0.10 increase.

Tolls on Route 27 are going to increase starting January 1. This road connects San José with Caldera.

The increase corresponds to the quarterly adjustment established by the concession contract.

The increase will be between ¢10 and ¢30 depending on the type of vehicle.

The increase is at the following toll booths: San Rafael, Atenas, Escazú, Pozón, Ciudad Colón, Rampa de Atenas, Guácima, Costanera Sur and Siquiares.

For some sections the rate will stay the same for some types of vehicles. The tolls in which the payment will remain the same for motorcycles and light vehicles are Escazú, Ciudad Colón, Rampa de Atenas, Guácima and Costanera Sur.

Buses and trucks must pay more in most sections. At the Atenas booth, motorcycles and light trucks will actually pay ¢20 less, according to a press release.