On a shrimp boat

Written by Silvia Echeverría, Marine Biologist

They may be just a few people who have had the opportunity to get on a shrimp boat. So the first thing is to know is that these boats have nothing to do with a tourist yacht or a boat ride.

Life on the boat has a different feel and its dynamic is unique. Fishermen are a team, they work articulately and each one has a role. Of course I probably lost the real dynamics for two reasons: first, because I spent half the time asleep as a result of motion sickness pills (and the other half throwing up), and second, because being a woman and research biologist onboard, men presented themselves as courteous and polite as they could, not jesting and even watching their vocabulary. Continue reading

Why not to reopen trawling in Costa Rica?

So much has happened in Costa Rica on the conservation and exploitation of marine resources front during 2015, that it is easy to get overwhelmed, or at least confused.

Certainly one of the issues that sparked the debate was what our government called National Policy on Sustainable Exploitation of Shrimp. With great fanfare, it was announced that the process involved the participation and support of the fishing sector, government, academia and the environmental sector.

From there things started badly, given that stating that academy, environmentalists, scientists and even large segments of the fishing industry in our country approved an initiative to reopen trawling, is far from the truth.

We will take it slowly: Continue reading

Without predators there is no ocean

Written by Marco Quesada, Director of Conservation Internacional Costa Rica

The loss of predators greatly affects the functioning of marine ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems can not exist without predators.

Costa Rica to advance implementation of measures to discourage the shark trade. National and public interests of our country must promote sustainable fishing practices that ensure our food and environmental security.

Sharks and bycatch

A new study from the University of Miami on the vulnerability of twelve species of shark that are by-catch (caught unintentionally) in longline fishing lines shows that species have very different rates of survival once captured. In other words, some species die faster than others.

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A defining moment

written by MARIO ESPINOZA, marine biologist, professor at the University of Costa Rica.

Currently, issues of export of shark fins, and especially marketing hammerhead shark species have been the focus of attention of many, including the fisheries sector, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Costa Rican people.

La aletas de tiburón son muy apetecidas en el mercado asiático. Foto por Jeff Litton

La aletas de tiburón son muy apetecidas en el mercado asiático. Foto por Jeff Litton

Shark fins have a very high value on the Asian market, which has led to illegal fishing activities to the detriment of several species such as hammerhead sharks. The reason is simple, the price of the fins is higher than that of the flesh. Therefore, some fishermen opt for the easy (but illegal) option of cutting and retaining only the fins so they can have more room on their boats, and thus generate greater wealth. This activity has been completely banned in many countries, and Costa Rica is no exception. However, not only does shark finning continue in our waters, but also a lack of controls the landings, which makes it impossible to even know the kind of species being captured. This despite all the existing regulations and conventions to which Costa Rica is part.
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No small fishes

Fried snapper. It is in itself delicious. But imagine it surrounded by some maduro, salad and potatoes, and it becomes irresistible, right ?. That’s right, as long as it is a snapper and not a parguito, a baby snapper.

The problem goes beyond receiving a plate with a small fish and being left with a craving. When our fishermen extract product from our seas (ie, fish) they must be sure they are respecting certain measures. These measures are known as Minimum Landing Sizes, which means the minimum size a fish must be before it can be sold.

These sizes depend not only on the species, but also on the place. Each country determines its minimum landing sizes within the boundaries of its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Measuring a recently caught snapper.

Measuring a recently caught snapper.

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