New Legislation a Big Catch for Anglers, Conservationists, and Tourists in Costa Rica
A new regulation set by President Laura Chinchilla Amanda will force commercial tuna fishing ships to conduct business between 60 and 200 miles offshore.
This new mandate was set in the hopes of rebuilding sea life populations in some of the world’s most bio-diverse waters, which have long been threatened by the giant nets of those harvesting tuna in hopes of a massive payoff.
Unfortunately, those nets, while garnering profits for fishermen, create serious casualties, often ensnaring and killing dolphin and other important sea life. They also significantly diminish the tuna population, causing an imbalance in the ecosystem that could have repercussions far into the future.
Chinchilla’s new ocean management plan is seen as a boon in many ways, for a multitude of interested parties. The hope is that tuna and dolphin pod populations will enjoy a quick recovery, and that other fish who have been driven from the area due to overfishing will return and establish healthy populations.
First and foremost, a population rebound would restore balance to the ocean’s ecosystem, and help preserve it for generations to come. But the change would have implications beyond ecology.
The promise of unparalleled big game fishing, coupled with the opportunity to see massive pods of dolphin in their natural habitat would make the area an even bigger draw for international tourists than it already is. In addition, local fishermen would be have the opportunity to harvest some of the ocean’s best, benefitting the local market. All of this means good things for the coastal Costa Rican economy overall.
The plan is not without its problems. The ever-present threats of bureaucratic corruption, weak enforcement and poachers who flout the law for personal gain will likely undermine the conservation efforts. But there is good news on that front, too.
Improved technology will give officials a leg up when it comes to enforcing fishing regulations. For the first time, regulators have access to the same kind of technology that has always helped poachers elude capture. Radar systems along the coast will help officials spot poachers more easily. In addition, tuna boats will be required to have GPS tracking devices, so their whereabouts will always be known.
The coastline will be more heavily patrolled, and those eagle-eyed fishermen and tourists who spot poachers will have firmer support from local government.
There is more work to be done on the front of preserving Costa Rica’s incredible marine ecosystem. But ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts, local fishermen, and tourists applaud the new ocean plan as definitive step in the right direction.