On January 18 multiple conservation NGOs got together and placed a paid advertisement in La Nación, Costa Rica’s largest newspaper that detailed the imminent problems the country faces when it comes to protecting its marine resources and how the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute’s (Incopesca) board of managers caters to private interests because it is composed of members of the fishing sector.  Six weeks later the fishing sector responded with its own paid advertisement.  Now Pretoma’s president Randall Arauz has responded with a personal letter to the editor, published on March 22.

An Urgent Reform

We, national environmental NGOs, declare that the root of many of the problems we find in marine conservation, like the slaughter of turtles by the shrimp trawl fleet, the illegal use of private docks by the international fishing fleet, illegal fishing around Cocos Island, is attributed to the conflict of interest that exists in the heart of Incopesca’s board of managers, an entity that’s composed of businessmen from the industrial fishing sector.

In response to our paid advertisement on January 18th, the “fishing sector” published their own paid advertisement on February 25th, claiming that we lie and are really enemies of Costa Rica.

It’s curious that now this sector does not except the data that Pretoma has collected on the environmental impact of the national shrimp fleet and how it calls these studies “manipulated”.  From 1995 to 2005, Pretoma undertook three studies on-board national trawls, in projects in cooperation with Incopesca, the Puntarenas’ Fishermen’s Union (CPP), and the Independent Shrimp Fishermen’s Union (Unipesca), financed at the time by national (Conicit and Micit) and international (USAid and NFWF) entities.

The “fishing sector” continues to affirm that the protection the shrimp trawl fleet provides to sea turtles constitutes a model for Latin America; however, the USA has embargoed the exportation of shrimp from Costa Rica four times since 1999.

It also affirms how it, along with environmental groups and the FAO, support the correct way to manage the use of shark resources in Costa Rica.  What they fail to say is how conservation entities support the system that requires sharks to be landed with their “fins naturally attached”, a system that Incopesca firmly opposed and it was necessary for the State Attorney to intervene on three separate occasions in order for its implementation.

If it was for Incopesca, Costa Rica would still be running around “tying” shark fins onto bodies and looking ridiculous in the process.

Speaking about the creation of Responsibly Fished Marine Areas and the intention to create one of these in the Golfo Dulce where the shrimping sector agrees not to trawl, what the fishing sector does not say is how it bought the political will through a payment of one million dollars to the owners of the 57 shrimp fishing licenses – despite there being only four boats that operate in the Golfo Dulce – as compensation to no longer fish there.  But as these are private funds, Incopesca’s board of managers denies any ties in this negotiation.

In 2008 only one foreign tuna boat was captured fishing illegally at Cocos Island, but a Minae, Coast Guard, and Marviva report notes that 905 national boats were sited illegally fishing during this same period, along with the confiscation of 217 fishing gear set-ups.

The good thing about the paid advertisement is that it strengthens our position because it clearly exposes that the “fishing sector” and Incopesca’s board of managers are one and the same.  Only by eliminating this conflict of interest will we arrive at real marine conservation.

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    AndyNews
    On January 18 multiple conservation NGOs got together and placed a paid advertisement in La Nación, Costa Rica's largest newspaper that detailed the imminent problems the country faces when it comes to protecting its marine resources and how the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute's (Incopesca) board of managers...