Conservation groups launch campaign to fund speedboat for patrolling Cocos Island

April 7, 2015

A campaign launched Tuesday is asking people and businesses in Costa Rica to donate money to buy a speedboat for park rangers at Isla del Coco National Park to fight illegal fishing within the island’s protected waters.

Asociación Costa Rica Por Siempre (ACRXS), Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco (FAICO) and a group of private companies are behind the campaign, dubbed “Todos a bordo” (All aboard). The campaign seeks to raise $200,000 to buy the speedboat and transport it to the park, Costa Rica Por Siempre’s Marcela Rojas Fallas explained.

For the next two months, donations will be collected via text messages, bank deposits, at supermarkets and at special public collection events.

Customers of mobile carrier ICE-Kölbi can donate by sending a text message to 7717 with the word “barco” to donate ₡500 and to 7718 to donate ₡1,000.

People who contribute via SMS will be entered into a raffle for a trip for two people to Isla del Coco, known in English as Cocos Island.

Donations can be made to Campaña “Todos a bordo” at Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, BAC San José, ScotiaBank, Banco General and at Fresh Market and AM-PM supermarkets.

The first collection event took place Tuesday morning at Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José, where artist Carlos Hiller painted a 3D ocean scene on the ground. A flashmob is scheduled for next month, also at Plaza de la Cultura, and a night bicycle ride in June will traverse the capital’s main streets to motivate people to donate.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cocos Island National Park is located 590 kilometers off the Pacific province of Puntarenas. The island’s remote location represents a big challenge for patrolling to ensure its preservation.

Recommended: Tico Times report on Isla del Coco Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The main threat is illegal fishing from local and foreign fishermen. More than 600 fish species are estimated to live within the boundaries of the protected area, with an average density of 7.8 tons per marine hectare, according to the park.

Environmentalists believe some of the endangered hammerhead sharks whose fins were recently exported from Costa Rica to Hong Kong were likely caught within the park’s boundaries.

In recent years, officials have also detected drug traffic operations near the island.

A speedboat would improve the park’s capacity to intercept boats within the protected 12 nautical miles, with the help of a radar station built last year to join a network of 16 stations along the Pacific coastline.

3D Paint Coco's Island at Plaza de la Cultura, Apr. 7 2015
NGOs Costa Rica por Siempre and Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco on Apr. 7 hold a public collection event including a 3D painting at Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José. (Courtesy of Asociación Costa Rica Por Siempre)
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