PLAYA CALETAS WETLAND THREATENED BY ILLEGAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION

(February 18, 2008 – San José, Costa Rica)

On February 6, 2008, employees of Agropecuaria Playa Caletas S.A., began the illegal construction of a road through the wetland parallel to Playa Caletas.  In order to continue construction, they proceded to cut vegetation to form a path which was then covered over with soil.  PRETOMA alerted Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment (MINAE) officials  of the situation on February 11, 2008, and work on the road was halted following their inspection of the area.  According to officials from the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) of MINAE, Agropecuaria Playa Caletas S.A. has been cited previously for illegally draining the wetland and are currently waiting on a resolution to this citation from last year.

The actions of Agropecuaria Playa Caletas in the wetland are a violation of international treaties that Costa Rica has agreed to follow, such as (RAMSAR) and the Convention on Biodiversity.  Additionally, they are in violation of the Ley de Vida Silvestre (Articles 103 and 90), the Ley Orgánica del Ambiente (Articles 45, 50, 51, and 52), the Ley Forestral (Article 33), and the Ley de Biodiversidad (Article 11), all of which protect wetlands from illegal drainage and the removal of vegetation.

"Agropecuaria Playa Caletas has shown again and again that they do not respect our environmental legislation, and continues to mock the authorities with its repeated illegal activities," declared Stephanny Arroyo, Co-Director of Nesting Beach Programs for PRETOMA.  "It is necessary that they comply with the law immediately in order to protect this delicate ecosystem for the neighboring communities who support sustainable development," said Arroyo.

In 2001, an amalgam of governmental organizations (ACT), private organizations (Ario S.A.), and NGOs (PRETOMA) iniciated the process to create the Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge (RNVSCA), given that it is an important area for sea turtle nesting, especially the olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).  The beach is also visited by the Pacific leatherback (Dermochelys olivacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles, all of which are considered Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  In August 2006, the refuge was officially declared and includes 313.3 hectares of land, 19,846 hectares in Marine Protected Area (MPA) extending 12 miles into the ocean.  Unfortunately, the land where the wetland is located is under legal litigation between the state and Agropecuaria Caletas, and until this is resolved in Tribunals it will not be possible to include it within the Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge, where it will be officially protected.

"For us, the construction of a road through the wetland is worrisome, given that it will without a doubt threaten the ecological balance of this area that represents essential habitat for numerous species of wildlife," expressed Alec Hutchinson – Co-Director of Nesting Beach Programs for PRETOMA.

PRETOMA reemphasizes that it will continue fight to protect and consolidate Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge, including strategic litigation in order to ensure that these environmental crimes do not continue without regulation.

PRETOMA anuncia que continuará la lucha por proteger y consolidar el Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Playa Caletas-Ario, incluyendo la litigación estratégica para que estos delitos ambientales no queden en la impunidad.

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    PLAYA CALETAS WETLAND THREATENED BY ILLEGAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION (February 18, 2008 - San José, Costa Rica) On February 6, 2008, employees of Agropecuaria Playa Caletas S.A., began the illegal construction of a road through the wetland parallel to Playa Caletas.  In order to continue construction, they proceded...