Effort to overturn trawling ban in Costa Rica fails

Published on
March 21, 2016

An effort by Costa Rica’s president to overturn a ban on shrimp trawling has been abandoned after meeting disapproval in the country’s Assembly.

Trawl fishing was banned in Costa Rica in 2013 by the country’s Constitutional Court, which declared that it violated the country’s laws on environmental preservation. President Luis Guillermo Solís, who took power in 2015, introduced Bill 19.838, the Bill for the Development and Sustainable Exploitation of Shrimp in Costa Rica, soon after his election.

Costa Rica Vice Minister for Waters and Oceans Fernando Mora told the Tico Times the bill did not seek to open the country’s waters to unlimited shrimp trawling, but rather would have allowed shrimp trawlers that held permits for the activity in 2013 to renew them, while also allowing for the study of more sustainable fishing regulations.

However, the bill was opposed by environmental groups, including MarViva, an environmental nonprofit that operates in Costa Rica, Colombia and Panamá.

“If the government can provide studies that show the practice has been made more sustainable, then maybe we could get on board with that, but those studies need to be done before we bring back shrimp trawling – not after,” MarViva director Jorge Jiménez told the Tico Times.

Jiménez said his group opposed shrimp trawling because of its propensity to destroy the sea floor and its high rates of bycatch.

Facing insurmountable opposition, President Solís withdrew the bill on 10 March.

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