Costa Rican environmentalist Randall Arauz took home $150,000 Tuesday in support of his work promoting ocean conservation in Costa Rica.
Arauz, president of the environmental group Pretoma, was selected as one of five recipients of the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. During the three-year fellowship, Arauz will use the grant money to support his work in ocean preservation.
“The policy work we are trying to do here is very difficult and has met a lot of opposition, so it’s nice to get some affirmation,” Arauz said. “It’s a very prestigious award and it’s nice to get a pat on the back.”
A marine biologist by trade, Arauz is best known for his successful campaign to halt shark finning in Costa Rica as well as Pretoma’s continued work towards influencing public fishing policy. For this work, Arauz was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2010.
Recognizing his past achievements, a panel of international marine conservation leaders nominated Arauz to submit an application for the fellowship.
Arauz plans to use the grant money to launch a policing campaign in Cocos Island National Park, a marine protected area where illegal fishing is commonplace. The campaign will use unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, to fly over the park and watch for pirate fishing boats.
Additionally, Arauz plans to coordinate with regional NGOs to push for stronger international conservation policies, and to serve as a watchdog over Costa Rica’s fishing policy.
“We want to make sure that what Costa Rica sells to the world is what is actually happening here domestically,” Arauz said. “We want to make Costa Rica the international conservation leader that Costa Ricans and the world expects it to be.”