Costa Rica Held Accountable for Not Protecting Sea Turtles
The Environmental Secretariat of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has requested Costa Rica to respond to the complaint filed by the Costa Rican organization Pretoma last July 13th, after studying the submitted documentation and determining that it fulfilled the requirements of the Agreement. The complaint claims non compliance of the country with its own sea turtle protection legislation.
Pretoma’s complaint specifically denounces Costa Rica’s failure to abide by its own environmental legislation in three fields that pertain directly to the conservation of sea turtles and to the habitats upon which they depend:
- Impunity for the offenders of legislation that protects sea turtles from drowning in shrimp trawl nets.
- Impunity for the offenders of legislation that bans shrimp trawlers from operating in marine protected areas.
- Impunity for the offenders of legislation that mandates shrimp trawlers to direct fishing effort on shrimp, and not on species of by-catch.
“Without a doubt, this situation stems directly from the conflict of interests that exists in the heart of the Board of Directors of Incopesca, the entity that establishes fishery policy in Costa Rica, majority of which is represented by private interests,” assured Randall Arauz. “It’s embarrassing, this process will affect Costa Rica’s image, but I think the effect in the long run will be positive, as it proves once again that without the much needed reform of INCOPESCA, it will never be possible to improve marine conservation in this country.
Aditional information on the CAFTA-DR process:
Articles 17.7 and 17.8 of CAFTA-DR establish the Mechanism for Communications Regarding the Application of Environmental Legislation, the aim of which is to foster civil society participation in the implementation of this legislation in the región. Through the use of a Communications Mechanism, any person from a Party of the Treaty can file complaints with the Secretariat of Environmental Affairs (SEA), claiming failure of a nation to abide by its own Environmental Legislation. The SEA may request a response from the Interested Party, and evaluate if it recommends the Council of Environmental Affairs to elaborate a File of Facts. The SEA will elaborate this file if ordered to do so by any of its members.