• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Shrimpers protest trawling ban

April 1, 2014

Carrying signs, horns and noisemakers, hundreds of shrimp fishermen marched outside the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday to protest the permanent expiration of another shrimp trawling license following the country’s trawling ban.

Known for its destructive impact on the ocean floor, shrimp trawling was banned  by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) for violating Costa Ricans’ constitutional right to a healthy environment. Boats with active licenses at the time of the ruling are allowed to continue trawling until their licenses expire.

The fishing boat El Rey became the second Costa Rican vessel unable to renew its license after it expired on Sunday. While the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) reports that only four total licenses have expired since the ban, ocean conservation group MarViva filed a lawsuit against the agency last week, alleging that Incopesca illegally renewed three licenses in August after the ruling.

According to Spanish-language daily La Nación, a total of 16 direct jobs were lost after the boats stopped trawling, along with other indirect jobs associated with the industry. Continued job losses were the primary fear for most of the protesters.

“In Puntarenas there is really high unemployment,” said Roy Carranza, the president of the Puntarenas Chamber of Fishermen. “To eliminate an entire sector will be catastrophic.”

Carranza’s position has found support outside of fishing circles as well, and a week after the Sala IV ruling lawmaker Rodolfo Sotomayor, from Puntarenas, the coastal city at the center of the debate, introduced a bill that, if passed, would regulate and reinstate shrimp trawling.

According to Sotomayor and Incopesca officials, the bill would make trawling more sustainable and therefore would not conflict with the Sala IV’s decision.

“We in the shrimping sector are in favor of regulation instead of elimination,” Carranza said. “We aren’t trying to fish wherever we want, whenever we want.”

Just last month, artisanal fishermen gathered in the same spot to protest against the bill. Those protesters claimed that overfishing by trawlers depletes resources for other fishermen, and that making the practice sustainable through regulation was impossible.

Tuesday’s rally centered on claims of environmental degradation, and fishermen argued that environmentalists have overblown the effects of trawling.

Tico Times photographer Alberto Font contributed to this story.

You may be interested

Authorities search for hiker missing in Chirripó NP
Costa Rica
5 views
Costa Rica
5 views

Authorities search for hiker missing in Chirripó NP

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 7, 2021

Costa Rican authorities are searching for a woman who disappeared Tuesday while hiking to Cerro Ventisqueros, the country's second-highest peak…

Costa Rica unemployment rate remains elevated at 18.7%
Costa Rica
2743 views
Costa Rica
2743 views

Costa Rica unemployment rate remains elevated at 18.7%

The Tico Times - May 7, 2021

Unemployment in Costa Rica was 18.7% in the moving quarter from January to March 2021, according to the National Institute…

Mexico extradites ex-priest accused of child abuse to Costa Rica
Costa Rica
3940 views
Costa Rica
3940 views

Mexico extradites ex-priest accused of child abuse to Costa Rica

AFP and The Tico Times - May 7, 2021

Former Costa Rican priest Mauricio Víquez, accused of sexual abuse of minors, was handed over Thursday by Mexico to Costa…