San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Municipality refuses permission for sea turtle nurseries on local beaches

The Nandayure Municipality in Costa Rica’s northwest Guanacaste province denied permission for the construction of protective sea turtle nurseries on the beaches of Bejuco and Coyote, according to the Program for Restoration of Marine Turtles (Pretoma).

“This refusal, on the part of the Municipality of Nandayure, works to the detriment of the conservation of sea turtles, a duty that as public servants they should fulfill,” said Randall Arauz of Pretoma.

According to Pretoma, the municipality declined to issue the permits because “there already exist refuges where these types of projects can be practiced.”

Residents of the Bejuco and Coyote beaches with help from Pretoma had petitioned the municipality for permission to build the nurseries to guard sea turtle eggs against poachers. Four types of sea turtles, all of them endangered, nest on Bejuco and Coyote beaches. Those turtles do not receive any type of protection, according to Pretoma.

“In a meeting with the municipal board, before officially denying the permissions for the installation of the nurseries, the board informed us verbally that the protection of sea turtles was not congruent with their plans to develop the zone and that we should respect the idiosyncrasies of communities in Guanacaste where turtle eggs are eaten,” said Erick López, a resident of Coyote. “For the municipality, the protection of sea turtles is a duty, not an option.”

Arauz added that the action violates numerous laws related to the conservation of sea turtles and wildlife.

Pretoma is preparing to appeal to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to guarantee the protection of sea turtles against poachers who specialize in the illegal sale of turtle eggs.

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