Costa Rica may soon be the site of the world’s first yellowfin tuna farm now that the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) has awarded the project its operation permit, clearing the last obstacle.
Granjas Atuneras de Golfito S.A., a Costa Rican company with Spanish and Venezuelan capital, has already received the go-ahead from the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) to build what would be Costa Rica’s first commercial fishfarming operation in open ocean waters, planned near the mouth of the Golfo Dulce gulf, on the southern Pacific coast.
Six of the nine INCOPESCA board members voted to approve the project June 16, while three voted against it, citing environmental concerns, according to
INCOPESCA spokesman Hugo Solano.
The tuna would be raised in 10 giant circular cages/nets – 50 meters wide and 20 deep – grouped together approximately 2.8 kilometers from the coast near Punta Banco.
The local representative of the project, Peruvian fisheries expert Miguel Salguero, assured The Tico Times earlier this year that the farm is the answer to depleted local fish stocks and impoverished local fishers.
Environmentalists, however, insist that the nets could be harmful to the many endangered species that live in the waters near the Golfo Dulce, including Olive Ridley turtles that nest on a beach near Punta Banco.
Other concerns include the waste generated by an estimated 1,200 tons of tuna that would inhabit the cages (TT, May 12).
The approval went into effect June 23, and the company now has six months to begin operations, Solano said.