The Environmental Tribunal this week ordered the captain and the owner of a fishing boat caught fishing inside the Isla del Coco National Park late last January to pay more than $668,000 in fines.
The tribunal, an administrative court of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET), also ordered the boat be stripped of its commercial fishing license.
The boat, called the Tiuna, was caught fishing in the protected waters surrounding the Isla del Coco, an island 587 kilometers off Costa Rica’s west coast, during a joint operation by the Coast Guard, MINAET and the environmental organization MarViva (TT, Feb 1).
Declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, the island and its surrounding waters are one of Costa Rica’s most famed national parks.
A shortage of park guards, however, and a lack of funds to repair the government’s scant patrol boats have left the waters largely unprotected.
The Tiuna had its nets in the water when caught by the joint patrol. Though the boat’s holds contained 280 tons of yellowfin tuna, the Tribunal only sanctioned the boat captain, Ariel Bustamante, and its owner, Domenico Cannavo Tringalia, for 14.5 metric tons.
According to a statement from the Tribunal, that was the amount the court could prove was actually fished within the national park’s boundaries. The ruling assigned a value of $46,098 per metric ton of tuna.
The court ordered the money be used “exclusively for the protection and vigilance of Isla del Coco.”