San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Isla del Coco Waters A Bit Safer These Days

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

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

The boat, brought down from the United States, is fully equipped with two 250-horsepower Yamaha motors, a 32-mile radar system, satellite navigation and a shortwave radio.

The boat, valued at about $54,500, was purchased thanks in part to a fundraising campaign at Wal-Mart stores Más X Menos, Hípermas, Palí and Maxi Bodega.

Isla del Coco and the national marine park that includes the biologically rich waters surrounding the island lie 365 miles off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Though few Ticos make the three-day journey, they are profoundly proud of the island, which was nominated as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Nature.

A lack of funding, however, has left park guards often unable to fend off fishing boats poaching 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, which are back to patrolling the island.

–Leland Baxter-Neal


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