Environmentalists celebrate new Costa Rican governmental steps in favor of marine conservation
Decree will regulate the sustainable extraction of resources around Cocos Island National Park
San José, Costa Rica, 05/10/2011 – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Costa Rican National Committee expressed its satisfaction over the creation of the Marine Seamount Managed Area, covering 9640 km2 around Cocos Island National Park.
The newly formed Marine Protected Area is the first of its kind created inside Costa Rica’s Exclusive Economic Zone (188 nautical miles beyond its territorial oceanic zone) and the second largest in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, surpassed by only Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. The executive decree that created the area will facilitate the protection and sustainable management of the area’s marine resources. The management category allows such activities as sport fishing and longlining, in addition to research, environmental monitoring, and ecotourism activities subject to authorization per the area’s Management Plan. Furthermore, the Management Plan prohibits industrial and semi-industrial shrimp trawling along with petroleum exploration and exploitation.
The multi-use area looks to find a balance between extraction and conservation as it protects marine life existing around the seamounts where deep coral formations and aggregation sites (resting, reproduction, cleaning, feeding) for highly migratory pelagic species like whales, sea turtles, rays, billfish (marlin and sail fish),sharks, and tuna are found.
Environmentalists are calling attention to the fact that Costa Rica’s marine territory (589,683 km2) is 11 times larger than its land mass.
“The creation of this Marine Management Area increases the percentage of protected marine territory from .79% to 2.42%, a figure that equates to 14,281 km2”, said Jorge Jiménez, General Director for MarViva – a member organization the the IUCN’s National Committee.
The IUCN’s National Membership Committee, made up of 18 NGOs and governmental agencies, works in close synergy to develop alliances to promote responsible natural resource management. Its objective is to propitiate a dialogue between multiple social sectors in order to lobby for environmental initiatives.
“We’re advancing towards the goal set during the IV World Park Congress of a governmentally established network of Marine Protected Areas by 2012. This is to say that some kind of protection should exist for at least 10% of the marine species within their jurisdictions”, expressed Jorge Polimeni of the Ecological Flag Foundation and President of the IUCN’s National Committee.
“The Marine Seamount Managed Area is congruent with the IUCN member’s priorities for marine conservation”, Randall Arauz from committee member PRETOMA said with satisfaction. “During the last IUCN’s World Congress in Barcelona, Spain 2008, the plenary adopted Recommendation 4.111 titled Conservation of the leatherback sea turtle Dermochelys coriácea and hammer head sharks Sphyrna sp in the Eastern Tropical Pacific corridor, in which the implementation of measures to control and manage the fishing effort are urged. These include the use of selective technologies and the creation of multi-use MPAs.”