The expansion of the protected maritime zone (ZMP) could affect fishermen of all fleets and cause unemployment of more than 50,000 people, if the Tico Government insists on issuing the decree on September 15th, 2021.
The fishing sectors (artisanal, longliner, purse-seine fishing and tourist fishing, business sector) demand that the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, suspend the initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) to expand maritime protected areas, increasing the territory that occupies the Isla del Coco National Park, the MINAE Submarine Mountains Management Marine Area and Corcovado National Park.
The MINAE and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) promote the increase of protected conservation areas, in conflict with the competence of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) and INCOPESCA, to meet the political objective that several countries have assumed at the Summit on Biodiversity, on September 30th, 2021, known as “30 × 30”; which consists of a strategy to convert 30% of the planet into protected areas by 2030 and guarantee the sustainability of life for all species on earth.
Lic. Germán Pochet, a lawyer specializing in Environmental Law, explained that the urgency of being heard by the president arises after the requests made to the ministers of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, Foreign Trade, Andrés Valenciano, and Economy, Industry and Commerce, Victoria Hernández Mora, were not attended.
In a letter signed by the Cuajiniquil Longline Association, the San Luis Puntarenas Marine Association, the Pastoral de las Gentes del Mar of the Diocese of Puntarenas, the Mar Nuestro Artisanal Fishermen Association, the National Chamber of Fisheries and Aquaculture Products Companies , the National Chamber of Longline Industry, the Costa Rican Chamber of the Tuna Industry, the Chamber of Artisanal Fishermen of Quepos, the Chamber of Artisanal Fishermen of Puntarenas, the Network of Marine Areas for Responsible Fishing and Territories of Life and the Gentes del Mar Collective , the Federation of Entrepreneurs, Fishermen and Molluskers of Costa Rica; President Alvarado is asked to have a space to hold a widely participatory face-to-face meeting, with the presence of his ministers of Agriculture, Tourism and Foreign Trade; complying with the sanitary measures in force for face-to-face meetings.
The meeting seeks:
•Seriously and efficiently addressing the commitments of his ministers to our sector, in order to effectively suspend the 30 × 30 process, and initiate structuring proposals for the components through which this international political project is to be implemented;
•Developing work tables where our entire sector of the national fishing industry participates, in which the work referred to in the previous paragraph takes place, in addition, we request that the proposals and traditional knowledge of fishermen be accepted in order to promote not only conservation, but also the sustainable use of our fishing resources, as promoted by the large pelagic platform, which encourages economic reactivation, job creation and food security for thousands of Costa Rican families through decent work that encourages the prosperity of our citizens.
•Abstaining the Government of the Republic from any individual contact by subsector, association, chamber or representative group of the different units that make up the national fishing industry, which explicitly or implicitly tends to undermine or affect our unit in the care of the aforementioned process 30 × 30 and its derivative actions.
The expansion of the protected maritime zone could affect fishermen of all fleets, since it would concentrate them in a specific space, putting at risk the sustainability of the resources in the area and, therefore, the economic and environmental sustainability of the fishing activity in Costa Rican territory.
In addition, the different vessels will be affected by having to compete for the fishing resource in a smaller space, a situation that could cause the direct and indirect unemployment of more than 30,000 people in the different coastal communities of the Costa Rican Pacific.
“Our greatest concern is that President Carlos Alvarado intends to announce by Executive Decree, the expansion of that 30% of the maritime space, when the country needs effective economic reactivation and to recognize conservation models with the people”, Pochet said.
An ignored sector
The environmental lawyer indicated that the letter sent to President Carlos Alvarado exposes how, for several years, the fishing subsectors have wanted to approach the Government, through their ministers, to request a serious and conducive space, in order to address legitimate concerns, derived economic, social and political threats. However, the processes of rapprochement have not borne fruit and the fishermen have been displaced and ignored, “forging our conviction that the government’s will to effectively solve the problems has not existed”.
The fishermen demand to be part of the analyzes related to that 30 × 30 political project, under the commitment to serve the public interest, but the days pass and the threats grow, without the commitments of the ministers materializing.
He added that, in recent days, the Vice Minister of Agriculture, Marlon Monge, has individually contacted some of the entities that make up the national fishing industry, whether they are associations or chambers, offering a particular and segmented dialogue with each of them.
“This is not admissible. The only positive effect of the unfortunate threat of 30 × 30 has been the union of the sector and we reject any pretense of separation of the activity and the movement in common cause”, asserted Pochet.
Although each subsector has its own needs and particular issues, it is extremely urgent to allocate actions to redirect this process (“30 × 30”) and which, among other things, implies the expansion of the Isla del Coco National Park and the Marine Management Area Submarine Mountains, as well as the expansion of a marine area of the Corcovado National Park.
In this way, President Carlos Alvarado is required to immediately suspend the erroneous and illegal 30 × 30 process that MINAE has managed, to specify an agenda for joint dialogue, so that an agreement can be reached democratically without being put into risk the food security, the production chain and the employment of hundreds of Costa Rican families.