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Assembly Commission Investigates Tuna Project

October 6, 2006

A congressional commission has agreed to investigate a proposed offshore tuna farm planned in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica following protests from various environmental and community organizations.

The Legislative Assembly’s Special Environment Commission announced it would begin the investigation after legislator José Merino, of the Broad Front party, filed a motion requesting it do so last month, according to a statement from the National Liberation Party.

The project, which would be the world’s first yellowfin tuna farm project, is planned by the Costa Rican company Granjas Atuneras de Golfito S.A. near the mouth of the Golfo Dulce, on the southern Pacific coast. The farm received the final go-ahead from the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) June 23, following approval from the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) (TT, June 30).

However, at least 10 environmental groups, community groups, fishing associations and tourism businesses filed complaints with MINAE’s Environmental Tribunal against the Environmental Secretariat (SETENA) – the part of MINAE that approved the project’s environmentalimpact study – and MINAE’s Water Department, which also approved the project (TT, July 7).

Opponents allege the farm will damage the fragile ecosystems in the gulf, and that Granjas Atuneras has not provided enough information to those who would be affected by the project. In addition, a statement from the Vida Marina Foundation said residents in the area whose names are on a list of people supposedly interviewed by the company during the planning phases assure they have never spoken with representatives of the company.

According to the Liberation party’s statement, Granjas Atuneras representative Eduardo Velarde insists the company has done everything according to Costa Rican law, that the site chosen has very little activity and the tuna farm will provide economic opportunities to nearby residents.

 

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