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Costa Rica

The winner of WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award 2010 on the theme Sustainable Oceans was the marine biologist and conservationist Randall Arauz together with oceanographer Ken Scherman.

Oceans are essential to existence of all life on Earth, and yet perhaps mankind’s most ruthless exploitation is taking place in the seas through overfishing, pollution and other environmental impact that damages biological diversity and the very basis for life both underwater and for humans on land.

Randall Arauz is a  who founded the non-profit NGO PRETOMA (the program for the restoration of sea turtles) in 1997 and has become a world leader in the work to ban shark finning. PRETOMA is a marine conservation and research organization working to protect ocean resources and promote sustainable fisheries policies in Costa Rica and Central America. The practice of shark finning has been widely criticized as wasteful by conservationists and brutal by animal rights activists. In 2003, Arauz, using a secretly filmed videotape, exposed a ship illegally landing 30 tons of shark fins, which meant the death of 30,000 sharks, late at night at a private dock. He released the footage to the media, and the resulting shock and outrage from the Costa Rican public and international community galvanized support for Arauz’s ensuing campaign to enforce the country’s existing laws against shark finning. In February 2005 a new national fisheries law went into effect that prohibits shark finning explicitly. The new law also calls for fines and jail terms for those caught landing shark fins at Costa Rican ports.

Throughout his campaign in Costa Rica, Arauz has worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Congress to urge the UN to ban shark finning and to stop all long-line fishing in the eastern Pacific’s international waters. Since the UN recommendation was issued, Arauz has represented Costa Rica at several UN meetings and has called for a complete ban on shark finning. In 2007, he participated in a UN Convention of Migratory Species meeting as an official Costa Rican delegate and was instrumental in the election of Costa Rica as a member of a five-country commission on international cooperation for the protection of sharks.

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