18 Marine Conservation Organizations (MCOs) accused Costa Rica of violating at least two fisheries conventions and U.S. Public Law. The complaint was presented before the Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce (IATC) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The organizations requested the country NMFS to “present a negative finding against Costa Rica in its next Biannual Report in 2023 to the U.S. Congress and maintain its status as a nation that repeatedly practices Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.”
Unfortunately, Costa Rica was labeled by the NMFS as an IUU country in 2021. The National Marine Fisheries Service’s report stressed the country’s problems regarding unsustainable fishing. The issues remain unresolved.
“Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems due to its potent ability to undermine national and regional efforts to manage fisheries sustainably as well as endeavors to conserve marine biodiversity,” stated the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The country’s failure to tackle this issue could result in serious problems, as restrictions could be imposed on imports by the U.S., and Costa Rican fishing vessels could be denied access to U.S. ports.
”Costa Rica has long turned over the direction of fishery policy to the sole interest of commercial fisheries, disregarding science and ignoring the public interest, with the result that Costa Rica is now an international pariah when it comes to fisheries management. Endangered sharks and billfish are in greater threat than ever in Costa Rican waters,” said Costa Rican biologist Randall Arauz.
Todd Steiner, marine ecologist and Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration, believes Costa Rica should be sanctioned as it hasn’t complied with these regulations.
“Costa Rican waters are a stronghold for many of the essential and endangered species in the sea, which makes it high time to hold the country accountable for its IUU fishing activities,” he added.
Organizations hope this will be a wake-up call for Costa Rica to meet its international legal obligations. They also expect the Costa Rican government takes corrective actions and provide the required data.