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

Sustainable development and Social Justice

Mario Peña Chacón,  Coordinator of the Master of Environmental Law at the University of Costa Rica. Member of the Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). mariopenachacon@gmail.com

Sustainable development?

The concept of sustainable development was born in 1987 in the report entitled “Our Common Future” by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Report). It was recognized internationally by the United Nations in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992:

“The kind of development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

This means that sustainable development can not exist if we do not think about the future, choosing a way of development and business that do not jeopardize the welfare of our children or grandchildren. Continue reading

If you are only going to learn 3 things about the oceans, let them be these

Written by Monica Naranjo González

1- You’re a fish
Every breath you take comes from the ocean. Your life depends on the sea as much as any fish. It is mainly the oceans, and not terrestrial forests, that are responsible for producing the largest amount of oxygen that you depend on.
And that’s just one example of how the complex chemistry and biology of the ocean ensures your life: oceans control the weather, the temperature, the water cycle.
If you think that the amount of organisms living in the sea make no difference in the amount of oxygen that reaches your lungs, or the fresh water you drink, or the temperature that you enjoy now, you have to think again. The chemical balance of the ocean depends on the complex interactions that exist between all beings that inhabit it. If we alter the ratio of these beings we alter its chemical composition and thus we alter our own habitat.

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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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The few that steal from everybody

Fishers in Guanacaste. Illegal fishing affects them.

According to a press release by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, on July 24th the National Coastguard, along with Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INCOPESCA) confiscated two thousand meters of prohibited fishing nets in the Gulf of Nicoya, from a group of fishers that tried to stop the police work.

Illegal fishers, onboard of 32 boats and concealing their faces, surrounded the authorities with a menacing attitude. All of it was documented on video by the officers. Continue reading