Dozens of fishermen from both of Costa Rica’s coasts gathered in the auditorium at the Casa Presidencial in San José Friday to celebrate the creation of a government-sponsored network of fishing communities. The new plan unites into one group the 10 Costa Rican coastal towns that have special community-managed fishing zones. The group is called the National Network of Responsible Fishing Areas.
First formed in 2008, Responsible Fishing Areas are coastal zones that hold special economic importance to their surrounding communities and are co-managed by the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) and the local fishing sector to help prevent overfishing. More than 100,000 hectares of Costa Rica’s ocean territory are designated as Responsible Fishing Areas.
“No one knows the environmental state of their oceans better than the people who have lived there their entire lives,” said Incopesca’s new executive president, Gustavo Meneses, in a speech at the event.
In Costa Rica, coastal communities are among the most impoverished areas in the country. According to Meneses, the fishing areas are designed both to help preserve the coastal environments and preserve fishing resources for the people who rely on them. The new network will help create alliances between the Responsible Fishing Areas so that the communities can take on larger hurdles — like illegal fishing — together.
“We can’t fight this battle alone,” said David Chacón, president of the Fishing Cooperative of Tárcoles. “Together we are stronger.”