Citizen Action Party lawmaker María Eugenia Venegas on Thursday presented a bill to the Legislative Assembly aimed at prohibiting the possession and sale of trawling nets in the country. The bill also seeks to close a loophole in current laws that allows shrimp trawlers to continue operating, but bans the use of trawling nets on other fishing boats.
Environmental organizations Pretoma and MarViva helped draft the bill.
According to Pretoma, some 80 percent of the total catch in trawling nets is later discarded. Costa Rica’s shrimp fleet discards some 4,000-6,000 metric tons of bycatch each year. In addition, trawlers snag some 15,000 sea turtles annually.
If passed, the bill also would revoke fishing licenses for approximately 100 semi-industrial fishermen who currently use trawlers.
Fishing companies in the country have used trawling nets for more than 50 years. Artisanal fishermen also use them, mostly in the Gulf of Nicoya. The bill would provide assistance to artisanal fishermen who quit trawling.
The Assembly’s Agricultural Affairs Commission is studying the proposal.