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Costa Rica’s Fishing Institute Wants to Grant Trawling Permits, Activity That Is Forbidden Since 2013

Costa Rica November 23, 2017
Author: Laura Alvarado

In 2013 Costa Rica’s Sala Cuarta or Sala Constitucional (Constitutional Hall) made clear its position (and the country’s position), by forbidding the renovation or emission of new trawling permits due to the environmental damages this practice causes, the sentence also established that the only way they could reconsider allowing this practice would be if enough changes were met to make it a sustainable practice, which would need to be demonstrated through technical studies supported by the scientific community. This has not happened.

Yet, controversy raised this week when it came to light that the Board of Directors of the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute ( Incopesca) had reached an agreement to grant trawling permits once again, disregarding the clear prohibition established by law. The information was bought to the public eye by the news radio show NuestraVoz and according to information released, Incopesca had kept this resolution as a “secret” because the Board of Directors still hasn’t confirmed it and they are scheduled to discuss it a session scheduled for next November 24.

Incopesca argues that they are not renovating the licenses that exist and are about to expire, but instead, granting new ones for semi-industrial trawling, which as stated in their press release “have particular characteristics for sustainable shrimp trawling by establishing 25 regulatory improvements, that guarantee better conditions for the protection of marine resources in a sustainable way, while also respecting the principle of responsible use of resources, allowing artisan fishing and industrial fishing to develop in harmony and with the necessary controls through the constant revision of technical and environmental criteria” 

To defend their position Incopesca mentions the implementation of several environmental improvements, such as the use of bycatch reduction devices, the use of satellite technology to confirm the location of the shrimpers, environmental zoning to help reduce impacts, protect sharks and turtles, and avoid conflicts between artisan fishing and industrial fishing, among

The General Director of non-profit marine conservation foundation MarViva, Jorge Jiménez, stated in an interview with NuestraVoz “We are against trawling as it is currently done today, with a net that basically sweeps the seabed and captures tons of organisms, over 80% of what is caught in the nets is not shrimp, and all these organisms are returned to the ocean dead or injured in an example of total and unacceptable disrespect to nature”.

The Center for the Investigation of Sea Science and Limnology (Cimar) of the University of Costa Rica reaffirmed their position against trawling, stating in a press release “The technical and scientific information published so far about shrimp trawling in Costa Rica do not show any evidence of sustainability in this form of fishing. Under no circumstances would Cimar be in agreement with the reestablishment of trawling if the conditions established in the sentence by the constitutional hall are not met”. 

In the past year authorities have captured 3 shrimpers that were fishing in protected marine areas.




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