Costa Rican fishermen demand closure of private docks to foreign fleets in Puntarenas
(San José, Costa Rica - October 6, 2010)
Costa Rican fishermen at the protest
Upset and tired of the negative impact of foreign fleets upon the fishery economy of Puntarenas, more than 100 fishermen, called by the Union of Pacific Fishermen, protested in front of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute headquarters in demand of fishery policies that benefit the national fishery sector. Among the fishermen's demands, are the closure of private docks to foreign fleets and the halting of the massive importation of "pangaso" fish from Vietnam. Members of Pretoma participated in the protest as observers, invited by the fishermen
The use of private docks by foreign fleets has been pointed out as one of the main precursors of shark overfishing and shark finning in Costa Rica for years, and the massive importation of pangaso represents a threat to the activity of small scale artisanal fishermen.
"What we are witnessing, is the result of state policies that are purposely designed to favor the interests of foreign fleets, even though they have to violate and ignore laws to do so", said Randall Arauz, President of the Costa Rican NGO Pretoma. "This seriously handicaps local fishermen who do respect laws and regulations, and it affects the image of our country, as it in fact promotes activities that act against the public interest, such as environment (shark finning), migration (slave trade) and national security (drug trafficking)", denounced Arauz.
Fishermen with Randall Arauz
At 3:00 pm the fishermen met with the President of Incopesca, where they announced that if their demands were not met, they would turn to other measures that could affect other industries, such as the tourism cruises.
"It is really a shame that the fishermen have to turn to such measures only to call for the law to be abided by in Costa Rica", said Miguel Gómez, campaigns coordinator of Pretoma. "The Constitutional Court, the Comptrollership, the Legislative Assembly and the Defender of the Inhabitants have all called for the operation of these docks to be closed immediately, but Incopesca refuses to do so".
Pretoma is a Costa Rican Civil Association of Public Interest and is an active member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN and the World Society for the Protection of Animals WSPA.