The Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) and the Waters and Oceans Vice Ministry in July will establish a ₡100 million ($200,000) fund to encourage shellfish production and protection in the Gulf of Nicoya.
IMAS Executive President Fernando Marín made the announcement last Saturday during World Oceans Day celebrations in the central Pacific city of Puntarenas.
The initiative, led by the Environment Ministry, will support hundreds of small shellfish fishermen affected by a ban put in place by the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry and Costa Rican Fisheries Institute in November.
The measure urged all residents to avoid eating shellfish caught in Costa Rican waters, including oysters and mussels, after the ministry discovered the presence of red tide (harmful algal blooms) in the Pacific waters of the Gulf of Nicoya.
The phenomenon may cause poisoning in humans and, in some cases, death from cardiorespiratory arrest.
The fund will help fishermen organize cooperatives and associations to begin training in shellfish cultivation, or oyster farming.
It also will help them clean shellfish reproduction areas and reforest mangroves.
“If there is pollution and mangrove deforestation there will be less shellfish,” Marín said. “That’s why we have to start protecting the areas where shellfish reproduce and train people so they can start shellfish cultivation projects.”
Waters and Oceans Vice Minister José Lino Chaves added: “This project is in step with coastal sustainable development that we are promoting, and we’re glad to announce it during World Oceans Day celebrations.”