San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican Fisheries Institute to apply fishing ban in Gulf of Nicoya

The Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) this week sent for publication a decree that prohibits all fishing in the Gulf of Nicoya, in northwestern Costa Rica, from July 1-Sept. 30.

The ban affects a region where most of the country’s fishermen live, including more than 2,000 artisanal and semi-industrial fishermen, Incopesca Executive President Luis Dobles said.

Incopesca’s board of directors reached the agreement last month, and this week it was submitted for publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta.

Dobles said the measure will help species recover in the gulf during the months of two main spawning periods, particularly for shrimp, sea bass, snapper and other commercially valuable species.

Shrimp trawlers and other semi-industrial vessels will not be able to fish for an additional 15 days. They can start fishing again on Oct. 16.

Incopesca and the Mixed Institute for Social Aid agreed to help artisanal fishermen affected by the measure by providing a monthly subsidy of ₡140,000 ($280) to more than 2,000 people. The aid will be distributed to those with a valid fishing license, plus one crew member per boat.

To ensure compliance with the ban, Incopesca is working with the Coast Guard and other agencies to patrol the area. The Environment Ministry, the Oceans and Water Vice Ministry and Economy Ministry will conduct roadway and supermarket inspections to spot transport trucks, supermarkets, farmers markets and other distribution points that may be selling or transporting fish or shellfish that was illegally obtained during the ban.

Penalties for violating a fishing ban range from ₡2-10 million ($4,000-20,000), and sanctions include revocation of fishing licenses and confiscation of vessels.

Contact L. Arias at

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