Tsai Yu Jen, the Taiwanese captain of a fishing vessel was charged with poaching after his boat, the Hung Chi Fu, was caught while unloading their catch in March. Inspectors have inspected their cargo and discovered that a large portion of their catch were finless blue sharks. The Taiwanese national is now faced with a hefty fine of 62 million colones ($124,000.)
The case was considered a minor civil infraction, but the courts determined that the vessels infraction against the Costa Rican fishing law was severe enough to warrant a fine equivalent to 70 median salaries (roughly $56,000.)
His vessel was taking down their blunt-nosed grey shark cargo, which was within the legal limits. After closer inspection however, fishing inspectors have determined that blue sharks with their fins sliced off were hidden among the rest of the catch.
The blue shark is not listed as endangered, but their fins are considered as a premium ingredient for a popular Chinese delicacy. A bowl of shark fin soup can cost up to $100 per bowl, and unscrupulous poachers will usually just hack off the fins and toss the still living shark back into the water to make room for more fins.
Shark fin soup is sought after not for its taste, but for it’s alleged health benefits.