Central America and Dominican Republic Outlaw Shark Finning

January 2012: The eight member countries of the Central American Integration System (SICA) have adopted a common binding regulation outlawing shark finning. Unlike finning bans in many countries, the Regulation applies not only to domestic and foreign vessels that catch and land sharks in SICA countries, but also to vessels fishing in international waters that fly the flag of a SICA member country.

Regulation OSP-05-11, agreed in November 2011 and effective 1 January 2012, was adopted via SICA's Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector Organization of the Central American Isthmus (OSPESCA). It binds Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

The Regulation outright bans finning, and requires member countries to take necessary measures in national legislation to guarantee the integral use of "sustainably captured" sharks. In particular, member governments are to only permit landing sharks when the fins are still naturally attached to the whole body or to a portion of the shark body. Furthermore, exports from or imports into SICA countries of fins not attached to a body must be accompanyied by a document from the competent authority in the country of origin, certifying that it is not the product of finning.

OSPESCA has addressed the practice of finning previously, adopting in 2004 a set of national plans of action on shark conservation ("PAN-Tiburones") and in 2011 a Regional Plan of Action on Sharks. In 2011, SICA ministries and agencies in charge of fisheries decided to take a leadership role on the issue by drafting and adopting a harmonized and simultaneous ban on finning. [OSPESCA Press Release (Spanish)] [Publication: Regulation OSP-05-11 (Spanish)]