San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla swears in commission that will examine how country manages marine resources

President Laura Chinchilla swore in members of a commission created to “improve good governance” of Costa Rica’s marine resources Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Presidency Ministry.

Chinchilla announced the creation of the commission in November after meeting with representatives of conservation groups and small-scale fishermen. The groups say the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) is soft on shark-finning and has a conflict of interest in managing fisheries since members of Incopesca’s board of directors have business interests in commercial fishing fleets.

The Presidency Ministry’s statement does not mention Incopesca, but states the president’s view on local marine issues.

It reads, in part: “the country’s seas generate different goods and services associated with a variety of activities such as: commercial and sport fishing, mariculture, shipping, marketing and transit routes, marine merchant port unloading, tourism, marinas and docks, whale watching and research and conservation of marine biodiversity.”

The president said the country must “resize its vision and broaden its perspective in relation to marine resources” to ensure their protection and sustainable use in the future.

Members of the Incopesca board of directors said they welcome the commission’s analysis. Executive President Luis Dobles called environmental groups’ accusations about ignoring shark-finning “absolutely false” indicating that in Costa Rica any boat fishing for sharks commercially are required to unload their catch at public docks, with the sharks’ fins attached to the bodies. He said the institute performed more than 3,000 inspections of boats carrying sharks in 2011.

The committee is made up of: María Virginia Cajiao, an environmental adviser to Chinchilla; Vice Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Xinia Chaves; Vice Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ana Lorena Guevara; Carlos Alvarado from the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs; and Marco Quesada an expert in oceanography and marine biology from the non-governmental organization, Conservation International.

No representative of Incopesca is on the commission.

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