New York Times News: Illegal Fishermen 4, Enforcement 0
Illegal fishing is a problem pretty much everywhere that regulations meet fish. As I noted in September, the United States government puts the global cost of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing at up to $23 billion in lost income for legal fishermen and coastal communities. And that’s before the larger environmental costs are considered.
In the Latin American instance, Pretoma, a small nongovernmental organization based in Costa Rica, said that the Costa Rican authorities had dropped cases against two shrimp boats that had been caught trawling illegally inside the Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge in 2009.
Although both incidents were documented with photographs, video, GPS positioning evidence and testimony from three witnesses, Pretoma said, the Costa Rican Fisheries Office dismissed the cases. Officials cited “reasonable doubts regarding the calibration and preciseness of the instruments” used to support claims they were operating illegally within the refuge.
Randall Arauz, Pretoma’s founder, said that shrimp trawlers’ regularly violate Costa Rican regulations “because the authorities fail to enforce the law.”
Costa Rica’s president, Laura Chinchilla, has appointed a commission to examine the fisheries authority’s decisions, raising the prospect that policies could be tightened.