Conservation Efforts Turn to Oceans, Islands

March 19, 2010

Conservation Efforts Turn to Oceans, Islands

After the recent debut of National Geographic’s documentary, “SharkIsland,” an exploration of Costa Rica’s treasured Isla del Coco, the audience left with a romantic sentiment toward the ocean and its riches.

At the event, Jorge Jiménez, director of the marine conservation group MarViva, said that “the time has come for us to return our eyes to the sea.”

And two donations this week seem to indicate that officials are beginning to heed the call of the great, deep blue.

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a donation of $3 million for Costa Rica from its Fund for the Environment in order to preserve marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Nicoya and the country’s southern Pacific waters.

Other governmental organisms will provide an additional $8.8 million in funds. The total of $11.8 million will be used for the “sustainable, integral management” of nearly 800,000 hectares of sea.

MarViva will administer the funds and use the money for marine and coastal planning, promoting sustainable practices and uses of marine resources and improving databases and information systems regarding the plant and animal species that live in Costa Rica’s Pacific waters.

On Tuesday, The Japanese government offered its own donation of $94,995 to the Friends of the Isla del Coco Foundation (FAICO) in order to improve the vigilance on illegal fishing near the island.

The money will be used to employ 10 park guards and build a 48-square-meter cabin on the island for the new park officials.

The donation also will help purchase a turbine to install in a small hydroelectric plant that the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) plans to build on the island.

Other purchases will include two life rafts and a mechanism that will help pull illegal fishing lines out of the water. This equipment will be installed on the island’s two patrol boats, Cocos Patrol and Faico II. In a news conference at the Japanese Embassy, Environment Minister Jorge Rodríguez called the donation “very important” because “without donations such as these, the country would not be able to completely protect its rich biodiversity.”

Rodríguez said that more donations for the Isla del Coco could help the ministry expand its protection zone beyond the currently protected 12 miles of ocean around the island.

–Mike McDonald

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