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Tourism vs. ecosystem: Dock project angers some in Puerto Viejo

August 29, 2019

Update [Aug. 29 at 9 a.m.]: The Municipality of Talamanca is inviting all interested residents of Puerto Viejo to an open forum about the dock project. The discussion will be held Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. at Casa de la Cultura in Puerto Viejo.

Original story: 

More than a dozen community organizations signed a statement opposing the construction of new docks in Puerto Viejo, Limón.

Expressing concern for local marine ecosystems, the organizations say the the dock project has proceeded after an insufficient environmental study that contains “a series of grave deficiencies and inconsistencies.”

The plan, as presented by Costa Rica’s Tourism Board (ICT) in 2017, calls for a fixed dock of approximately 75 m in length. But Tuesday’s statement from local groups says the required analysis of environmental impact was “superficial” and failed to consider several important marine species.

“Local eco-tourism will be negatively impacted,” the opposition statement reads. “Diving associations, surfing, artisanal fishermen, even local artisans will be displaced by this infrastructure.

“In addition, there will be irreversible impact on marine ecosystems due to the contamination of water with fecal waste, hydrocarbons and the construction of the berth itself.”

The project, valued at 415 million colones (about $732,000), has advanced without considering feedback of people who live in the community, the statement says.

It is scheduled to be completed in late 2019.

“The lack of transparency with which ICT has managed this plan is one of the things that most concerns the neighbors of Puerto Viejo,” the statement reads.

Casa Presidencial says the dock is a joint project between ICT and the Municipality of Talamanca. The venture also includes the construction of a pier in Cahuita, Limón, “for the safe transfer and enjoyment of people visiting the main attractions of these areas.”

The Puerto Viejo dock is included as part of the Costa Rican Government’s initiative to boost tourism to the country’s Caribbean coast.

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