Costa Rica expands protection around Cocos Island

March 9, 2011

On March 3, President Laura Chinchilla announced new regulatory measures aimed at protecting the immense marine resources around Cocos Island, Costa Rica’s famed island and marina national park. Under the name of Seamounts Marine Management Area, the newly issued decree establishes more strict controls mainly on fishing, as well as tourism and research activities.

Costa Rican fishermen living on the Pacific coast may continue commercial fishing activities inside the newly protected area as long as they abide by new rules that encourage sustainable practices.

“We want fishermen to wisely catch their preys, according to proper age and weight criteria and by using technologies that are not intrusive for other species,” said Chinchilla.

The decree would also enforce the protection of marine turtles, rays, tuna, dolphin fish and other endangered species.

The Costa Rican Fisheries Institute will be in charge of issuing fishing licenses, according to the regulatory plans authorized by the National Conservancy Area System.

“For us, this is a smart government decision. Besides the protection granted to several marine species, the implementation of these new rules will directly benefit the small tuna fishers and will refrain foreign flagged ships from fishing abuse,” said Randall Arauz, director of Pretoma, a Costa Rican foundation focused on protecting marine turtles.

“It is a timely and important decision. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed how these laws and regulations remain in print. I think it is hard to believe that authorities will patrol this huge area with their scarce resources,” said Luis Marín, director of Preserve Planet, one of the leading environmental organizations in the country.

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