In a case that keeps getting more bizarre by the minute, on Monday a Puntarenas court ordered the Costa Rican government to pay $6,622.46 to boat captain Su Hsien Feng for the destruction of more than 650 shark fins seized from his boat’s hull in 2011.
The court’s judge, Franklin Lara, ordered the payment as part of his absolution of Costa Rican Taiwanese businesswoman Kathy Tseng, the defendant in the case. In addition to forcing Costa Rican taxpayers to foot the bill for the destroyed fins, Lara’s ruling essentially has once again legalized shark-finning in Costa Rican waters, conservationists say.
Condemned for its cruelty, shark finning involves slicing off the animal’s valuable fins — the key ingredient in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup — and discarding the body to the sea to save room in a ship’s hulls. Tseng’s case was the first-ever prosecution of a shark finning method known as spining, where fishermen kept the fins attached to the meatless spine by strips of skin in an attempt to slip through a Costa Rican regulation requiring fins to be naturally attached to the body.
According to Monday’s court verdict, Costa Rica must also pay Tseng’s legal fees incurred in her defense.