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- Photo via Tortuguero National Park -

Costa Rica vetoes controversial fishing species agreement

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Published on Wednesday, May 10, 2023
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government, through the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Incopesca), vetoed a recently issued agreement to expand the list of fishing interests for commercial exploitation by 200 species, which included wild species.

The Incopesca Board of Directors agreed to reverse the same resolution they issued a couple of weeks ago. “At the meeting of the Board of Directors, we put the review of the agreement at the top of the agenda so that it becomes invalid as of today,” said Víctor Carvajal-Porras, Minister of Agriculture and member of the board.

The polemic agreement was published in the government newspaper, La Gaceta, titled "List of Species of Freshwater Fish and Crustaceans and of Aquaculture Interest in the Continental, Coastal and Oceanic Waters of the Country."

The document authorized the exploitation and trade of corals, turtles, wild iguanas, sea urchins, sponges, sea cucumbers and algae among many others.

The original document will be sent for analysis by a committee of experts to find out the scope that was intended to include marine protected species as part of the list of natural resources allowed to be exploited by fishing companies.

The controversial list was oppugned by experts from public universities, wildlife defender organizations and deputies among many other groups.

According to the statement signed jointly by the University of Costa Rica, the National Technical University, the State Distance University, the National University and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, the list issued by the institute increased from 34 to 234 commercially exploitable species, which put the conservation of marine biodiversity at risk.

Even though that first agreement was revoked, the document will be sent to the Scientific Technical Coordination Commission of the institute where experts will include the position of other public and private organizations to have a list that incorporates the interests of the various sectors, said the Ministry in its statement.

That resolution contradicted the Wildlife Conservation Law, No. 7317, which was enacted in 1992 and establishes the legal basis for the conservation, management, and sustainable use of wildlife in Costa Rica. 

According to the law, some of the sea species protected in Costa Rica include:

Sea turtles such as the Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Green turtle, are protected under national laws and international agreements. There are dedicated conservation programs and protected areas where these turtles nest, ensuring their survival.

Whale and dolphin species such as Humpback whales, Bryde's whales, and several dolphin species, including the spinner dolphin and bottlenose dolphin, are protected. The Marino Ballena National Park and the Marino Las Baulas National Park are important protected areas for these marine mammals.

Sharks and rays, due to the country has banned shark finning, a practice that involves removing shark fins and discarding the rest of the body. Protection measures also extend to species like the whale shark and manta rays, which are vulnerable due to their slow reproductive rates.

Coral reefs are vital ecosystems, providing habitat and nurseries for various marine species. Several types of coral are protected under national and international regulations, such as the staghorn coral and elkhorn coral. The country has established marine protected areas to safeguard these delicate and important ecosystems.

A wide variety of seabird species, including pelicans, frigatebirds, and boobies. These birds are protected under national laws and are important indicators of the health of coastal ecosystems. Protecting their nesting sites and addressing threats like habitat destruction and pollution is crucial for their conservation.

The country has numerous national parks, wildlife refuges, and protected areas that contribute to the conservation of marine species and their habitats. These areas provide legal protection and support conservation efforts to ensure the long-term survival of these valuable sea species.

What impact would Costa Rica have if the exploitation of protected marine species is authorized? 
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments news@amcostarica.com

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