Public call for the creation of new Marine Management Area in Nandayure , Guanacaste, Costa Rica

• Protection would be provided to olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtles, and would foster a sustainable spotted rose snapper fishery.

• Initiative enjoys massive support on behalf of neighboring communities and citizens from the whole world.

(December 9, 2013 – San Jose, Costa Rica )

Last Friday, December 6, a proposal to create a new Marine Management Area (Law of Biodiversity No. 35369 -MINAET) in the county of Nandayure, Guancaste, Costa Rica, was formally submitted to the Minister of Environment Mr. René Castro, by the Costa Rican NGO PRETOMA and the Fisher’s Association of Bejuco (ASOBEJUCO).

The area proposed for a new Marine Management Area (MMA) is “locked” between two existent Marine Areas, belonging to the Camaronal and Caletas-Arío National Wildlife Refuges, and consists of 23,214.65 hectares. Among the justification, an urgent need is mentioned to eliminate the presence of shrimp trawlers, which threaten the sustainable economic development options for the area.  On one hand, this activity causes high mortality of the olive ridley turtles that nesting on nearby beaches, and where coastal community members develop conservation and volunteer projects. Furthermore, due to depleted shrimp stocks caused by overfishing, shrimp trawlers direct their fishing effort towards spotted rose snappers, overfishing them too and depleting the stocks, which affects the coastal communities that depend on these resource for their socioeconomic welfare.

Other threats are also pointed out, such as the use of illegal gillnet mesh sizes and compressor divers, both of which tend to capture undersized specimens.

MPA Los Pargos

Other valuable resources that should be protected are the rocky headlands of Punta Coyote and Punta Bejuco with their rocky outcrops, which provide developmental habitats for juvenile hawksbill turtles that temporarily reside there.  These hawksbills, which are considered Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are also subject to a excessive mortality by shirmp trawls.

“The creation of this MMA is a logical step,” said Randall Arauz from PRETOMA.  “The proposed area is locked between two existent marine protected areas, of which the conservation mission of both would be best accomplished if they were connected,” said Arauz.

As a first action, a ban is requested on shrimp trawling, gillnets with less than 4.5 inch mesh size, and compressor diving.  Currently, the fishers of Bejuco and Coyote collaborate with PRETOMA in obtaining fisheries information to determine the sustainability of fishing gear like bottom lines and 4.5 inch mesh size gillnets, and in designing an Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management Plan for the new AMM, which is expected to be ready within one year.

“The spotted rose snapper fishery in Bejuco and Coyote is the first and so far only Latin American fishery to obtain international precertification for being sustainable,” said proudly Erick Lopez, from PRETOMA.  “The creation of this new AMM can promote a model of sustainable coastal development that would keep Costa Rica at the forefront of marine conservation in the region and the world.”

The proposal has the written support of 1,786 residents from the communities of Nandayure (Quebrado Nando, Bajo Arío, San Francisco de Coyote, Pueblo Nuevo, San Miguel, Corozalito, Bejuco, Costa de Oro, Pilas, including businessmen, fishermen, students and children, and foreign residents), as well as from 18,149 people from 159 countries.  Furthermore, the initiative is also supported by following Costa Rican NGOs: Conservation International, Widecast , Reserva Playa Tortuga, Leatherback Trust, Fundación Bandera Ecológica, International Student Volunteers, Asociación Ambiental Vida, and Fundación Neotrópica.

Pictures of the project:

For more information:

Randall Arauz, Presidente PRETOMA.  8344 3711

Erick López, PRETOMA San Francisco de Coyote.  8695 1300

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