The Green Wall


Written by Mónika Naranjo González
Indonesia ha tenido que aprender sobre la importancia de los manglares de una forma muy dura. Hoy existen varios proyectos de recuperación de este ecosistema. Foto por Conservation International

Indonesia has had to learn the importance of mangroves the hard way. Today there are several mangrove recovery programs in place. Photo by Conservation International

It all started during a massive drought in Indonesia. Peatlands (a type of wetland) began to burn. The huge amount of organic material in the soil also burned and spread disaster, fire could not be controlled for months. Amid the emergency new knowledge gained prominence: the relationship between these ecosystems and climate change.

In that scenario Miguel Cifuentes started to learn about the connection between the loss of mangroves and organic substrates, and the release of their stored carbon dioxide.

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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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A shark is worth more alive than dead

WRITTEN BY MARIO ESPINOZA, MARINE BIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITYOF COSTA RICA PROFESSOR.

Sharks are a group of highly successful predators, and many species play an important role in marine ecosystems. For example, the biggest sharks can control the abundance and distribution of species of smaller size, thus regulating the diversity and maintaining the health of marine ecosystems.

Los tiburones pueden ser una fuente de ingreso a través del ecoturismo. Foto por Sijmon de Waal

Sharks can be a source of income through ecotourism. Photo by Sijmon de Waal

Moreover, in several regions of the world it has been discovered that some shark species may stimulate the local economy through ecotourism. Therefore, the real value of sharks goes far beyond marketing their meat and/or fins, for example, it is estimated that ecotourism activities around sharks can generate more than $ 314 million per year in the world. This has led to think that, both ecologically and economically, a shark is more valuable alive than dead. Continue reading

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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The Serengeti!

Costa Rica is part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape

Costa Rica is part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape

We hear it all the time, and yet it still doesn’t seem clear enough that a healthy ocean is paramount for our own survival. Our ocean makes up the Earth’s primary life support system, comprising 70 percent of our planet’s surface and 99 percent of our world’s biosphere — the fragile part of our planet in which life takes place.

So how do we make sure that everybody is using our shared marine resources responsibly? Well… it’s not easy. Continue reading