Costa Rica’s Administrative and Civil Court has taken decisive action in response to concerns raised by the MarViva Foundation, ordering the immediate suspension of new trawling studies in the country’s waters.
The court declared the measure admissible, citing an imminent and irreparable danger to marine ecosystems and state finances.
This legal development is a direct response to a series of irregularities and flaws that have been identified, conflicting with normative dispositions issued by the Constitutional Chamber.
These irregularities include technical deficiencies in the project, developmental flaws, and potential environmental harm that could lead to irreparable damage, thus violating the constitutional right outlined in Article 50.
As part of the court’s decision, there is an order to suspend all ongoing fishing activities and any other related acts by the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) that could facilitate the execution of the controversial study. This includes the issuance of new fishing permits and agreements by the Board of Directors endorsing the initiative.
The suspension will remain in effect until a substantive resolution is reached for MarViva’s lawsuit, filed back in May.
“This precautionary measure signifies a resolute step by the court to protect marine ecosystems and defend the fishing resources crucial for thousands of artisanal fishermen and their families. Amid inconsistencies and a lack of transparency, this ‘study’ is riddled with technical and methodological shortcomings, posing a considerable risk to the sea, coastal economies, and public finances. We trust in our country’s democracy and the rule of law, and we respectfully applaud the court’s decision,” stated Katherine Arroyo, MarViva’s Advocacy Manager.
The precautionary measure will remain in effect until a definitive judgment is reached for MarViva’s lawsuit, aiming to annul the trawling reactivation study in Costa Rica.
New Trawling Studies Face Scrutiny for Inconsistencies
President Rodrigo Chaves announced in September 2022 that new technical studies would be conducted to revive shrimp fishing in Costa Rican waters. These studies, approved by the INCOPESCA Board of Directors, were scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2023.
However, MarViva, along with academia, conservation organizations, and renowned scientists, raised questions about the study’s methodology and transparency. The study faced criticism for failing to meet minimum requirements, and these concerns were not exclusive to MarViva.
Based on a flawed research proposal, INCOPESCA issued fishing permits authorizing commercial shrimp exploitation through trawling. MarViva denounced INCOPESCA’s formalization of these decisions as illegal acts that should be declared null and void.
MarViva argued that the proposal fell short of the Constitutional Chamber’s requirements, as detailed in previous resolutions. These resolutions outline the minimum components a scientific investigation should encompass when analyzing the social, economic, and environmental viability of trawling in Costa Rica.