San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Foundation donates boat to protect waters of Isla del Coco

Park guards Isla del Coco, Costa Rica´s famed island and marina national park, are now better equipped to deter illegal fishing in the protected waters.

The Friends of Coco´s Island Foundation (FAICO) and Wal-Mart Centroamérica yesterday donated a new 25-foot patrol boat to the guard station located on the island.

The boat, brought down from the United States, is equipped with two 250-horsepower Yamaha motors, 32-mile radar capability, satellite navigation, a shortwave radio and other features, according to a press release from Wal-Mart.

Valued at 30 million colones (about $54,500), the boat was purchased thanks in part to a fundraising campaign launched at Wal-Mart stores Más x Menos, Hípermas, Palí and Maxi Bodega.

The Isla del Coco and national marine park, including the biologically rich waters surrounding the island, lies 365 miles off Costa Rica´s Pacific coast. Though few Costa Ricans make the three-day journey to visit the island, it is a source of national pride and was been nominated as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

However, a lack of funding has left park guards often unable to fight off fishing boats from poaching in the park´s waters.

In July, when MarViva I, a patrol boat belonging to the ocean conservation organization MarViva, was taken out of service for repairs and the park guards´ sole patrol boat, Cocos Patrol, went down with an electrical short, at least 10 commercial fishing boats took advantage of the lull in protection to lay their lines and nets within the park´s boundaries (TT, Aug 8).

The new boat, called FAICO II, joins both MarViva I and Cocos Patrol – now operational thanks to 12 million colones (nearly $22,000) in electrical repairs paid for by the foundation – which are back to patrolling the island.

FAICO II will also be used for research and ecotourism.

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