President Arias receives letter signed by 704 citizens opposed to Tuna Farms
(San José, Costa Rica – May 28, 2009)- The Costa Rican organization Pretoma delivered a letter today to President Oscar Arias which was signed by 704 citizens who participated in Costa Rica’s first national rally to halt tuna farming on May 23-24 in Pavones, Puntarenas. The letter calls on the President to revoke the Ministry of Environment’s (Minaet) decision to go ahead with the tuna farm project, which had been suspended since May of 2007 by order of the Constitutional Court. According to the letter, the Ministry of the Environment is not abiding by the court ruling that suspended the execution of tuna farms until technical certainty exists that can confirm that the Golfo Dulce, a tropical fjord, would not be affected by the massive amounts of metabolic wastes produced by the tuna.
The two day event was staged in a remote area of the country (an 8 hour drive from San José), but the region’s aloofness did little to deter people from supporting the movement to stop tuna farming. Artisanal fishermen, tourism operators, children, tourists, Guaymi indigenous citizens, and others came together to voice their concerns over the unbridled exploitation of the area’s natural resources.
“What a phenomenal event”, said Jonnie Haas, Pavones resident and event organizer, “the thing I remember most is the children all gathered around the table to carefully sign the petition and watch the tuna farming video”. He went on to mention that this event is only the beginning of the community’s grass roots movement to stop the tuna farms.
The area’s two unequivocal economic strengths are fishing and tourism, both fed by the natural beauty and bounty of the Golfo Dulce and its surrounding verdant hillsides. Coincidently, both are threatened by burgeoning concerns regarding Minaet’s decision to approve an international project to unsustainably strip the area of its natural resources, solely for the harvesting of tuna. The project is slated to have a life span of 8 years, during which time the company, Granjas Atuneras de Golfito S.A., plans to earn 20 million dollars per year, only to skip town when natural tuna stocks become depleted and pollution concerns pose a risk to profits.
Perhaps the greatest part of the weekend was how people from all walks of like came together for a common cause. Guaymi, one of Costa Rica’s indigenous Indian, walked for hours just to voice their support, and they did so shoulder to shoulder with local fishermen and sun burned surfers.
“I can’t believe this” mentioned one anonymous local observing the spectacle of children’s games, rubber boot races, and traditional dances, “you just don’t see things like this in Pavones”. And if the public gets their way, you won’t see tuna farms either.