February 11, 2005 – San Jose, Costa Rica<br />

On February 10, 2005 Costa Rican senators unanimously approved a new
national fisheries law. The proposed law has been debated since 1995,
when parts of an antiquated fisheries law from 1948 were ruled
unconstitutional. <br />

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The new law includes a prohibition on <a href="http://www.tortugamarina.org/content/category/5/79/68/">shark</a>
finning and creates fines and jail terms for those involved in landing
shark fins at Costa Rican ports. There are also stiff penalties for
anyone who harms endangered sea turtles and the law requires shrimp
fishermen to use TEDs, special devices which allow sea turtles to
escape from shrimp nets. <br />

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For nearly 10 years, fishermen, senators, industry representatives and
conservation groups have worked to finalize the text of the law which
includes 173 articles. <br />

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Along with many senators, PRETOMA opposes portions of the new law that
promote overexploitation of Costa Rica's ocean resources, such as free
permits to foreign vessels to fish tuna in Costa Rica's national waters
and increased sport fishing. Senator Rodrigo Alberto Carazo has already
made a call for modifications to the articles that grant free permits
to foreign tuna vessels. <br />

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Four years ago PRETOMA led a campaign that halted the passage of a
previous draft of the fishery law which would have granted even greater
licenses to foreign fleets to fish in Costa Rican waters. <br />

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&quot;The last thing Costa Rican fishermen and ocean species need are more
vessels fishing in our waters and the region,&quot; says Randall Arauz,
President of PRETOMA. &quot;If we truly want commercial and endangered
species to recover we need to limit fleets, especially large advanced
foreign fleets. And we need a moratorium on longlining in the
international waters of the Eastern Pacific.&quot;<br />

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Large foreign longline fleets that set millions of hooks began arriving
to the region in the 1980s. Since then, the number of leatherback sea
turtles nesting on the Pacific coast of Central America has declined by
97% and many national fishermen are struggling because commercial
species have been depleted. <br />

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&quot;Due to the fact that so many species, such as sea turtles, dolphins,
tuna, mahi mahi, rays, swordfish, sailfish and sharks migrate
throughout the region, the only way to truly keep from wiping them out
is to work on a regional level,&quot; says Arauz. &quot;This new law combined
with a recent halt to illegal landings by foreign vessels at private
docks and the Ministry of Environment's vision for creating some form
of protection for 25% of Costa Rican waters, are important steps.
However, even with the best laws and policies in Costa Rica, without
regional cooperation species and fisheries are still threatened.&quot;<br />

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PRETOMA (Programa Restauraci&oacute;n de Tortugas Marinas) is a Costa Rican
non-profit, non-governmental, marine conservation organization that
works to promote responsible fisheries and protect sea turtles, sharks
and marine biodiversity. Contact info@tortugamarina.org.<br />

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    February 11, 2005 - San Jose, Costa Rica<br /> On February 10, 2005 Costa Rican senators unanimously approved a new national fisheries law. The proposed law has been debated since 1995, when parts of an antiquated fisheries law from 1948 were ruled unconstitutional. <br /> <br /> The new law includes a prohibition on <a...