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Complex, confusing fishing law can blindside expats
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is a favorite location for fishing, but the legalities to do so are confusing. Fortunately, fishing fans and tourists may not have to confront them.

Most fishing in the country requires a special identification card known as a carné, regardless of citizenship.

Even Tom Sawyer and his stick with a fishing line would require an identification card in this country with one major exception if he were to follow the law.

According to the revised law, Ley de Pesca 8436, and current practice:

• Those who fish for food do not need authorization under the pesca domestica chapter. But to stay out of trouble they should inform someone in an office of the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, an official said.

• There is a difference between a license and a carné. Licenses are the documents that boat owners need to have. Sports fishermen and tourist fishermen need an identity card or carné.

• Many tourists who purchase a sport fishing package have a carné even though they may not know it. Sports fishing operators frequently purchase the identity cards in blank and in bulk. The documents are good for a year.

• Individuals who seek a carné to authorize them to fish in fresh or salt water have to go to a regional office of the national fishing institute. There are only five offices in the country. They are in Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Limón, Quepos and Golfito. The institute promises to have the system online soon, said Edwin Salazar, director of the institute's Departamento de Proteccion y Registro.

• Individual boat owners who use the vessel to fish have to have what is known as a sports fishing license. The license process requires a form to be filled out, along with providing a cédula number or passport number, and a deposit into the Banco Nacional account for the institute. The cost ranges from $360 to $1,600 for a one-year license. The price depends on the size of the boat. If a three-month license is purchased for $330, boat size doesn't matter.

• Sports fishing operators who sell their services have to have a tourism license for the vessel. This is the same process as the sports fishing license. The license process, regardless of legal status in the country, is for any person who owns and has planned to fish in the Costa Rican waters. The permission is for the boat to sail with either one fisherman or various fishermen.

• The rules for commercial vessels are complex as are rules for those who would catch and sell fish or shellfish. There are different licenses for those commercial fishermen. Salazar said most people who apply and have commercial licenses are Costa Rican. It is rare for foreigners to have commercial licenses because they are usually in the country for a short amount of time, said the director.

A curiosity in the law is that a person fishing for food does not need authorization. But someone catching and releasing fish does. The tourist and sports fishing carné is supposed to be only for catch and release, since it is for recreational pursuits with no commercial intent. Salazar said it is even illegal to take a fish out of water for a trophy picture unless it has died. The only way to legally take a fish to shore after a sports fishing trip is if the fish died in the release process or the person caught a dead fish. Otherwise keeping the fish is considered against the law, said Salazar.

Many fishermen either do not know the rules or ignore them. One of the complexities or loopholes to the law is that fishing for domestic purpose requires no need for authorization. But there is a
fishing at sunset
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
If they are not going to eat the fish, they need a special identification.

catch. If the person is caught in the water fishing without a carné officers of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas have the jurisdiction to take action because there is no proof that the fisherman is solely fishing for a meal. For all the coast guard officers know is that the fisherman is fishing without any authorization. That is why it is important for a notice to the institute about fishing for food, said Salazar. That is the only proof.

A carné or identification card is sold by the length of a month and year. For one month a carné costs $15, meanwhile a yearly one costs $30. There is a special identification card sold for 4,000 colons a month but that is only for those who want to fish from the shore. This carné can't be used if the fisherman is going into any kind of boat where fishing will take place.

Those wanting to just hang out on a fishing boat while others fish also need a carné. Salazar said that the regulators of the institute go by the saying Nadie puede resistir a pescar cuando ya esta en el barco, “No one can resist fishing once on the boat.” Regardless of the situation as to why there are people on a fishing boat, if there is one person with an intent to fish then everyone else on the boat must have the proper authorization to set sail into the water, he said.

Clerks at downtown sporting goods stores said that few people actually get the carné to fish. A worker at the institute's office in San José said carnes are almost never issued there. The Central Valley has the greatest concentration of population in the country.

Last year the institute reported it raised more than 81.5 million colons, approximately $158,963. That is the combined amount of money from the sale of identification cards from the five main offices in the country.

The Quepos office sold 42 million colons worth, approximately $81,919. Puntarenas sold 22 million colons, approximately $42,910. The Guanacaste office sold 9 million colons, approximately $17,554, and Golfito sold 8 million colons, approximately $15,603.

The Limón office sold half a million colons worth of identification cards for fishing. That is approximately $975.

Sports fishing operators know the law and protect their tourist customers by providing carnes. Many individuals fish in Costa Rica without the slightest regard for obtaining legal authorization.

Although the law appears to be unworkable in some aspects, the coast guard and the institute set up an offshore checkpoint Saturday in the Pacific west of the Los Sueños Marina where they turned back 10 boats that did not have the proper paperwork.

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President Chinchilla reported
open to broad drug debate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla said Wednesday that she would welcome a broad debate over drugs and noted that drug use has been decriminalized in Costa Rica.

The president made her comments after meeting with the visiting vice president of Guatemala, Roxana Baldetti. Otto Pérez, Guatemala's president, is promoting a debate on decriminalizing drugs. His country has been affected heavily by drug-related crime and cartels.

“If we continue the same road we have traveled during the last years, the only destination that Central America has is to fall into the same abyss into which nations such as Colombia and México have fallen,” she said, according to a summary of her remarks prepared by Casa Presidencial.

Ms. Chinchilla discussed violence in the region with Ms. Baldetti.

Ms. Chinchilla said that two nations in Central America now have the notoriety of being the most violent in the world. “We see sadly that many Central American youth join gangs that lead to the consumption of drugs and the violence and the prisons are collapsing because of persons used by the drug capos,” she said, adding that “between 60 and 80 percent of the women in prisons are there for drug violations. Without a doubt the situation does not allow us to reject at least discussing other courses of action.”

In fact, there are three very violent countries: El Salvador and Honduras, in addition to Guatemala.

Ms. Chinchilla is said to support a frank and open debate on the drug situation. She is said to want a discussion that does not have just two options: strong enforcement or decriminalization. She is on record open to all options. She said she is suggesting that the United Nations become involved in the discussion.

Ms. Chinchilla said that Costa Rica's policy is to treat drug use as a public heath problem fortified with programs of prevention and rehabilitation. She said that for various decades the consumption of drugs has not been penalized in Costa Rica. However, she said, the country strongly enforces laws against production, trafficking and sales of drugs.

Costa Rica is a major trafficking country, and tons of cocaine and other drugs pass through the nation on the way to the United States, Canada and even to Europe.

The president's recollection does not square with history because it was only last year that the nation's chief prosecutor said that his office would not enforce crimes against the personal use of small amounts of drugs.  Informally the president is correct in that individual policemen have been prone to overlook drug use even when they see a person smoking marijuana on a public street.

Tuesday the president met with Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security.  Ms. Napolitano was making a fast tour of Central America and Panamá to counter the comments of Pérez and to promote the U.S. policy of strict enforcement of drug laws. Ms. Napolitano did not say so, but Ms. Chinchilla most likely outlined her views in the meeting.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
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Assembly wall
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
The mural in construction is just east of Castilloi Azul, the historic structure on the legislative grounds.
11 artists share the work of constructing an elaborate mural
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is new graffiti along Cuesta de Moras in front of the Asamblea Legislativa in San José, but this isn't random tagging on government property. The works were commissioned by the Federal Republic of German cultural arm, the Goethe Institute.

Eleven Costa Ricans and one German artist have begun their efforts to complete a mural as part of a transnational art project for México, Central America and the Caribbean called De mi barrio a tu barrio. Most of the mural sections aren't done. But the artists have until Friday to complete their works.

The work is placed in an urban settings as part of an effort to engage in street art. This is the second stop in the tour following Jamaica.

The project allows the youth a space where they can beautify the city and demonstrate their skill, said a representative from the German Embassy. The embassy has provided space and support of the project.

German artist Jim Avignon is one of the artists heading the project. And he is the sole non-Tico artist participating in the mural. He said the tour is for one year, and it is meant to be a traveling exhibition. There is no way for them to transport the murals, so instead members of the project will take pictures of each art piece and turn them into posters. This will make it easier for other participating artists to get a feel for what is about to happen and for others to see what has been done in the previous countries, said Avignon.

The participating artists got the coveted spots in a competitive process, and now they are making history on the walls of the government building. The chosen few are fully sponsored by the Goethe Institute. They don't have to pay for any of their   supplies, which has allowed some to go above and beyond their usual means.
Jairo Hernández, one of the artists, said he designed a pre-Columbian creature with Mickey Mouse ears and then had it printed to about 10 feet. His character has been pasted to his part in the mural and takes over the space from the bottom of the wall to the very top of it. He said if it wasn't for those that have paid for the supplies he would not have been able to complete a piece that size. He has combined a printed graphic to a painted wall. He isn't done yet.

Some artists have used the typical form of painting. And others have used a more popular approach of graffiti with spray paint. Then others have mixed painting and spray painting to their piece.

The artists were allowed to construct any type of piece they wanted, regardless of the message. They were not censored, said the German Embassy representative. Very few have expressed political statements in their piece.

Artist Bang 7 has created a piece called La muerte se viste de seda or “Death dresses in silk.” He had a completely different project planned for his allotted wall space, but he said the first day they showed up to begin the mural they weren't able to do anything. There was a protest in front of the Asamblea Legislativa.

He said that incident caused him to change his piece.

“There was a lot of discontent in the street,” he said. “After all, these paintings are for everyone.”

The others weren't so affected by the protest. They have constructed something personal, their own creation.

Regardless of the theme or subject of their art, the different pieces will be combined to complete the mural, said Avignon.

“We want the art to mix,” he said. “It should be one big, crazy painting.”   

Uvita is hosting an unusual selection of festival events
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In the southern Pacific of Costa Rica is a small beach town called Uvita. On an average day, the place is calm and secluded. But this weekend will be quite different as hundreds of people will gather for Envision, a three-day international music and art festival, that will run from today to Sunday.

The intent of the festival is to celebrate spirits, heal the body and mind, revitalize souls to face challenges, and to realize opportunities offered in a rapidly changing world, according to the Envision Web site. The organizers have put together a program with performers, music, workshop, yoga and art for the attendees. There are more than a hundred performers from all over the world to entertain those who go to the festival.

And the hotels are booked up.

The performers vary in entertainment genres. There are more than 30 individual performers not including the dance companies that bring more than a handful of entertainers. There will be aerialists, circus performers, hula hoop dancers, fire performers, belly dancers, ballet, trapeze performers, stilt performers, and modern dancers. A lot of these performers have fused different genres to create something new, such as belly dancing mixed with fire dancing and hula hooping. There also is modern dance infused with multimedia.

As for the musical portion of the festival, there are more than 40 artists taking their acts to the stage. There are two big
Envision logo

stages and another two smaller venues along the coast in Uvita for the acts to perform. The different genre of music range from acoustic to electronica to rock to dubstep. Similar to the dance acts, a lot of these musical acts have created their own genre by fusing together different sounds. The musical portion is meant to relax and not create any type of stress.

The workshops consist of more than 20 different lectures for the mind, spirit and body, such as increasing erotic IQ, permaculture, breathing, psychedelic science in the 21st century, natural healing, vocal healing, urban love, environmental filmmaking, self-empowerment, and much more.

Because the festival is meant for the mind and body, physical activities are a big part of the event. Every day will offer different sessions. Such as different yoga styles, belly dancing, holistic hula hooping, aerial for beginners and advanced students, sultry dancing, meditation, gravity surfing, acrobatic and circus skills. There are more active sessions for the activity section.
There will also be more than 20 different art exhibits and installations at Envision.

Tickets cost $50 a day or a three-day pass for $80. The tickets can either be purchase on location or online at

Strawberries are the product of the weekend in Vara Blanca
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A strawberry festival begins today in Vara Blanca, Heredia, on the highway to Volcán Poás for the second celebration of Feria Nacional de la Fresa. The festival runs through Sunday.

The funds made from the celebration will go to the communities in the area of Vara Blanca, which was heavily damaged in a 2009 Cinchona earthquake. The area provides more than 3,000 tons of strawberries per year, according to a press release sent by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia.

The three-day event will offer karaoke, Costa Rican custom food, folk dancing, and many different competitions. One of the competitions is a bake-off to see whose dessert is the best with the main ingredient of strawberry. Another competition is to see who is the fastest strawberry packer. And similar to other fairs where the largest animal or vegetable is prized, for this festival it's the biggest strawberry that wins.
Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería photo
All that is lakcing is the sweet cream

The festival kicks off today at 4 p.m. Friday it begins at 2 p.m. The festivities on Saturday begin at 10 a.m. and on Sunday at 7 a.m.

The strawberry festival is free and open to the public.

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U.S. finally indicts Bodog, Calvin Ayres and three associates
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
A federal grand jury in Baltimore, Maryland, has indicted Bodog Entertainment Group S.A., which is doing business as and four Canadians for conducting an illegal sports gambling business and conspiring to commit money laundering.

The case involves sports betting handled in Costa Rica.

Indicted is former Costa Rica resident Calvin Ayres, 50, and his associates James Philip, 58, David Ferguson and Derrick Maloney.

The indictment was returned on Feb. 22 and unsealed Tuesday.

The two count indictment alleges that from at least June 9, 2005 to January 6, 2012 the defendants conducted an illegal gambling business involving online sports betting. The defendants and their conspirators allegedly moved funds from Bodog’s accounts located in Switzerland, England, Malta, Canada and elsewhere to pay winnings to gamblers, and to pay media brokers and advertisers located in the United States. The conspirators directed payment processors to send at least $100 million by wire and by check to gamblers located in Maryland and elsewhere.

According to the indictment, the four men caused a media broker to execute an advertising campaign to attract gamblers
in the United States to the website. From 2005 to 2008 Bodog allegedly paid over $42 million in costs for the advertising campaign, the indictment said.

According to the affidavit in support of a seizure warrant, an ex-employee of Bodog stated that Bodog has hundreds of employees located in Canada and Costa Rica who handle the daily operations of taking bets, tracking sports events, customer service, Web site development, advertising and financial transactions. The ex-employee also identified Bodog’s top level officers and directors.

A warrant was executed seizing Bodog’s Web site domain name.

The individual defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conducting a gambling business; and 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy. faces a maximum fine of $500,000 on each of the two counts. The initial appearances of the individual defendants have not been scheduled.

Ayres was a flashy resident when he lived in Costa Rica. He left in 2008 when the federal government was closing in on offshore gambling sites. He claimed at one time that he had become a billionaire through online gambling.

He usually traveled with bodyguards and gave lavish parties at a mansion in Santa Ana.

Esparza man dies trapped in home with suspect electrical system
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's new electrical code came too late for Fidel Vindas
fire photo
Cuerpo de Bomberos photo
Part of electrical system
Ureña, 84. The Salinas de Esparza resident died when a fire leveled his home.

Fire investigators said that the electrical system in the home was substandard and that the cause was an electrical problem in the kitchen. Vindas died while trying to get out a window of his home. Firemen had trouble getting to the blaze because the home was encircled by a fence with barbed wire and a steel access.

Costa Rican officials decreed a new electrical code last month. But it
would not take an electrical engineer to see that the system was amiss in the Vindas home. The electrical cables were not
 contained in plastic channels or conduits, said fire fighters, and the electrical cables were of different gauges. The entry panel was sub-standard, too.

Adding to the blaze was the fact that Vindas was a recycler. He had large amounts of paper and plastic in his home. He was trapped in a bedroom, fire fighters said.

The blaze was reported at 3:47 a.m.

The Judicial Investigating Organization has not yet said that the death was an accident. However, K-9 dogs at the scene did not detect any scent of accelerants.

The new electrical decree came out Feb. 15 in the La Gaceta official newspaper.

The regulations apply to any additions of remodeling of any structure. And buildings that accommodate more than 100 persons, such as schools, hospitals and dance halls, have to be inspected every five years

New theory advanced on collisions of earth's tectonic plates
By the University of Michigan News Service

Fifty million years ago, India slammed into Eurasia, a collision that gave rise to the tallest landforms on the planet, the Himalaya Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau.

India and Eurasia continue to converge today, though at an ever-slowing pace. University of Michigan geomorphologist and geophysicist Marin Clark wanted to know when this motion will end and why. She conducted a study that led to surprising findings that could add a new wrinkle to the well-established theory of plate tectonics – the dominant, unifying theory of geology. The findings have relevance to Costa Rica, which is the product of similar geological forces.

"The exciting thing here is that it's not easy to make progress in a field (plate tectonics) that's 50 years old and is the major tenet that we operate under," said Ms. Clark, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

"The Himalaya and Tibet are the highest mountains today on Earth, and we think they're probably the highest mountains in the last 500 million years," she said. "And my paper is about how this is going to end and what's slowing down the Indian plate."

Ms. Clark's paper is scheduled for online publication in the journal Nature.

According to the theory of plate tectonics, the outer part of the Earth is broken into several large plates, like pieces of cracked
shell on a boiled egg. The continents ride on the plates, which move relative to one another and occasionally collide. The tectonic plates move about as fast as fingernails grow, and intense geological activity – volcanoes, earthquakes and mountain-building, for example – occurs at the plate boundaries.

The rate at which the Indian subcontinent creeps toward Eurasia is slowing exponentially, according to Ms. Clark, who reviewed published positions of northern India over the last 67 million years to evaluate convergence rates. The convergence will halt, putting an end to one of the longest periods of mountain-building in recent geological history, in about 20 million years, she estimates.

And what will cause it to stop?

Until now, conventional wisdom among geologists has been that the slowing of convergence at mountainous plate boundaries was related to changes in the height of the mountains. As the mountains grew taller, they exerted an increasing amount of force on the plate boundary, which slowed the convergence.

But in her Nature paper, Ms. Clark said that a different model, one based on the strength of the uppermost mantle directly beneath the mountains, best explains the observed post-collisional motions of the Indian plate.

Ms. Clark refers the uppermost mantle's ability to withstand deformation. She suggests that the relatively strong mantle directly beneath Tibet and the Himalayas acts as a brake that slows, and will eventually halt, the convergence of the two continents.

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Number of mosques in U.S.
have grown dramatically

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new survey finds that the number of U.S. mosques has grown dramatically in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, despite protests against their construction and allegations they have promoted radicalism. 

The survey is sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and other groups in conjunction with the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, which tracks church membership and other aspects of religious life in the United States.

The survey's tally of 2,106 mosques marks a 74 percent increase since the year 2000, when 1,209 mosques were counted.  It also found a trend among Muslim congregations toward suburbanization and integration into American life.

"The Muslim community in America is growing, healthy, vibrant, and becoming more and more a part of the American landscape," said Ihsan Bagby, a University of Kentucky Islamic studies professor, a study co-author.

The mosque count was conducted in 2010 with follow-up interviews extending through 2011.  New York had the highest number of mosques, at 257, with California close behind at 246.  But whereas in 2000 the Northeast was the region with the most mosques, the highest number a decade later was in the South.

Bagby said they have even been built in small cities in eastern Kentucky.  "If the mountains of Kentucky can have mosques - and built mosques, built from the ground up - then you'll find mosques everywhere."

He said immigration and natural population growth gave impetus to the increase, along with the growing financial resources of American Muslims.

Two years ago, the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the 2001 attacks in New York triggered a nationwide controversy and allegations that mosques were breeding extremists.

But 56 percent of mosque leaders told the survey that they put forward a flexible approach to the Quran, and to the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, in order to take modern life into account.

And whereas in 2000 more than half of mosque leaders surveyed said they believed that "American society is hostile to Islam," but now, only a quarter do.

"What happened after 9/11 is that it pushed mosques out into the community," Bagby said in an interview.  "And because of that experience - the wonderful experience of interfacing with neighbors and other interfaith groups in the locality - the churches and synagogues - it actually built a residue of sympathy and empathy with other religious people."

The study found that 2.6 million Muslims pray in a mosque for the Eid, a major holiday on the Islamic calendar.  Some Muslim leaders said that figure suggests the total Muslim population in America is around seven million, significantly higher than other estimates.

David Roozen of the Hartford Institute said Islam is probably the fastest growing major religion in the country, but its influence is still limited.

"Islam in the United States, even with its rapid growth, is still probably 2 to 4 percent of the population."

Roozen has documented what he calls an erosion of congregational vitality in Christian denominations, but says their main concern should not be the growing number of mosques.  He says it should be the 15 percent of non-religious Americans, who are the fastest growing group in major national surveys of all faiths.

India becomes big exporter
due to cheaper rice varieties

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Five months after lifting a ban on exports of cheaper varieties of rice, India has emerged as one of the world's top rice exporters. That has helped stabilize prices around the world, even as the cost goes up in traditional exporting nations like Thailand.

Scores of Indian rice traders have returned from a recent Grains Conference in Dubai after discussing lucrative deals.

The head of the All India Rice Exporters Association, Vijay Setia, says business will be brisk in the coming months.

"Feeling was bullish. Demand from Iran, Iraq and the entire Middle East was big. African customers were there because of good quality and the lower price," said  Setia.

The reason: India is providing customers with a cheaper alternative to rice from top exporters like Thailand. Rice became more expensive in Thailand after floods damaged last year's crop and the government introduced a scheme to guarantee how much farmers are paid.

The situation in India is dramatically different. There are huge stockpiles after a series of bumper rice crops, leading to a nearly 25 percent fall in paddy prices in local markets.   The government responded in September by lifting a four-year-old ban on exports of lower-priced varieties of rice. India has always exported its expensive basmati rice, but exports of other varieties were suspended in 2008 after global food prices climbed steeply. 

Samarendu Mohanty, chief economist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, says India’s return to the global rice market in September prevented a spike in international prices. 

"India came as a savior. The timing was so perfect because Thailand was implementing in the same month their rice mortgage program where they increased their domestic price by nearly 50 percent. It pretty much boiled down to if Thai increased their rice by 50 percent, then global rice price also goes up accordingly. But that did not happen because of India," said Mohanty.

Mohanty estimates that a ton of Indian rice is currently about $100 cheaper than comparable varieties from other countries. From October to January, India shipped out 2.3 million tons of rice - even more than Thailand - as the Indian rice was sought by customers in several countries.  

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Environmental organization
brings turtle fight to CAFTA

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Environmental Secretariat of the Central American Free Trade Agreement has requested Costa Rica to respond to the complaint filed by the Costa Rican environmental organization Pretoma last July 13, the private organization said. The secretariat took the action after studying the submitted documentation and determining that it fulfilled the requirements of the agreement, Pretoma said.  The complaint claims non compliance of the country with its own sea turtle protection legislation.

Pretoma's complaint specifically cites Costa Rica's failure to abide by its own environmental legislation in three fields that pertain directly to the conservation of sea turtles and of the habitats upon which they depend.

The organization, which formally is known as Program Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, said it cites specifically the lack of enforcement of laws that protects sea turtles from drowning in shrimp trawl nets, laws that ban shrimp trawlers from operating in marine protected areas and laws that mandate shrimp trawlers to direct fishing effort on shrimp, and not on species of by-catch.

"Without a doubt, this situation stems directly from the conflict of interest that exists in the heart of the board of directors of INCOPESCA, the entity that establishes fishery policy in Costa Rica, majority of which is represented by private interests," said Randall Arauz of Pretoma.  "It's embarrassing, this process will affect Costa Rica's image, but I think the effect in the long run will be positive, as it proves once again that without the much needed reform of INCOPESCA, it will never be possible to improve marine conservation in this country.

INCOPESCA is the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura.

Pretoma is basing its complaint on articles in the free trade treaty between Costa Rica and the United States and other countries in Central America. The treaty says that any person can file a complaint about a country failing to enforce its own environment laws, said Pretoma.

Couple convicted in deaths
of two Alajuela children

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judges in Alajuela convicted a woman and a man in the death of two children in a decision released Wednesday.

The woman who has the last names of Cisneros Guerrero got 35 years for murder in the deaths of the two children and six months in prison for the separate crime of fraud in that she claimed to be pregnant to obtain money from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, said the Poder Judicial.

Her companion, identified by the last names of Ugalde Rojas got four years for negligent homicide and 20 years for murder.

The charges involved the drowning death of a 3 year old in 2008 and the death of a 3 month old due to severe malnutrition, said the Poder Judicial.

The judges also ordered a woman with the last names of  Navarro Carvajal not to work in a public job for three years. She was a social worker for the Patronato Nacional de Infancia who was supposed to oversee the health of the youngest child.

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