Costa Rican government demands the exclusion of MarViva from cooperation project

MarViva Foundation denounces that the political, fishing, and environmental authorities of the current government have acted in a reprehensible manner to the detriment of our democracy. In reprisal for our technical position on shark conservation and on shrimp bottom trawling, the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Energy, have demanded that MarViva be excluded from its role as technical implementer of a cooperation project, of which it has been a part since it was formulated in 2019.

Transforma-Innova is an initiative between the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) and the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in association with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Conservation International (CI), CRUSA Foundation, Environmental Bank Foundation (FUNBAM) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Its objective is to transform agricultural and fishing systems into low-carbon production models while seeking effective management of marine coastal resources. MarViva was opportunely selected to participate in the implementation of the project due to its experience of more than 20 years working in the protection of the oceans, hand in hand with the coastal communities.

The Transforma-Innova Program Coordination has informed MarViva of the current government’s request, on several occasions during the last year, to exclude the Foundation from the implementation team. Last Thursday, February 1st, after a year of uncertainty in communications with the Program Coordination about this unfortunate situation, and given persistent absence of an official written position regarding our participation in the initiative, we have accepted that the government’s position continues to exclude MarViva from its role as implementer of the marine spatial planning component.

Considering that MarViva will no longer tolerate the situation of uncertainty to which it was subjected during the last year, to which we agreed in expectation of a negotiation that would not condition our advocacy work, we reiterate our gratitude to the coordination of the Transforma-Innova Program, the GIZ staff, and the Government of Germany for their support, empathy, and transparency demonstrated during this process. We have witnessed their commitment to the search for solutions and their willingness to address this painful governmental action, mediating to promote the permanence of MarViva in the project.

Given this unprecedented situation, we must defend the legitimate exercise of freedoms and constitutional rights that urge us to monitor and question the scientific and legal rigor of the Public Administration’s actions in marine matters. For MarViva Foundation, it is not new to face government positions antagonistic to our criteria; what is new is that the discrepancies are not resolved through openness to dialogue and respect, as has been the norm, but through actions aimed at intimidating our work.

We demand respect for our democratic system. For this reason, MarViva publicly reproaches the attitude of the authorities, whose position does not comply with the democratic tradition of our citizenship. The Costa Rican population and the organizations that operate in our country deserve intact peace of mind that political advocacy, one of the essential pillars of a healthy democracy, can be exercised freely, responsibly, and without persecution, as MarViva has been doing for more than 20 years during which it has never encountered this type of persecution.

MarViva’s integrity and ethics are non-negotiable. With the support of the institutions and constitutional rights that protect us, in the organization and citizenship levels, we will continue our work to strengthen marine-coastal governance in our country, the region, and the world.

Photo: ©Luciano Capelli

Statement by Katherine Arroyo, Executive Director of MarViva