Aquaculture for all

Shrimp Trawling Now Banned in Costa Rica

Crustaceans Sustainability Politics +3 more

COSTA RICA - Due to the serious harm that trawling causes to the marine environment and sea bed, Costa Rica has banned all shrimp trawling in the country.

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The ruling, written by Justice Paul Rueda, declared admissible a lawsuit filed by six environmental organizations against various articles of the country’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Law, reports TicoTimes.

"Based on extensive scientific studies, it is clear for the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court that this fishing technique causes serious harm to the marine environment, due to the amount of marine life that is incidentally captured and then discarded, and also the negative effects on benthic (ocean floor) domains," the ruling stated.

According to Randall Arauz, president of the Marine Turtle Restoration Project (PRETOMA), shrimp trawling licenses have few restrictions, allowing boats to target other species as long as they declare them as bycatch.

“In Costa Rica a license to trawl is a license to kill,” he told the newspaper. “Industrial shrimp trawlers can target snappers, call them bycatch and not leave anything for local fishermen.”

The Sala IV ruling urges the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) "to halt the granting of new fishing licenses and to refrain from renewing expired permits for shrimp trawling boats."

Active licenses will remain valid until they expire, but must not be extended.

Justices also clarified that permits may be reinstated in the future if authorities require the use of Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD), and if it can be demonstrated that a new technology can effectively reduce bycatch.

According to PRETOMA, some 80 per cent of the total catch in trawling nets is later discarded. Costa Rica’s shrimp fleet discards some 4,000-6,000 metric tons of bycatch each year. In addition, trawlers snag some 15,000 sea turtles annually, PRETOMA reported.

US officials last year lifted a three-year ban on imports of Costa Rican shrimp issued in 2009 when US inspectors found that INCOPESCA was not effectively sanctioning shrimp trawlers that did not use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on their nets. US law requires any boat exporting shrimp to US markets to use TEDs to prevent sea-turtle bycatch.

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