The changes proposed in bill No. 21478 are related to semi-industrial shrimp fishing.
/ A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo.

-Monday, December 2, 2019-

Congress approves in initial vote Shrimp Trawling Fisheries Law

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Deputies of the Legislative Assembly, in the first round of voting, approved, 26-18, the bill No. 21478, promoting the sustainable use of shrimp fishing in Costa Rica.

According to a legislative announcement,
the bill No. 21478 proposes to reform and add some articles of the current Law No. 8436, entitled Fisheries and Aquaculture Law.

The changes proposed in
the bill No. 21478 are related to semi-industrial shrimp fishing. "With the goal of solving the social, economic and environmental problem created in coastal areas by the suspension of this economic activity for more than five years," said the congress in its statement.

The bill No. 21478 also calls for the sustainable harvest of shrimp with fishing nets that must have devices that exclude fish and turtles, following the technical and scientific regulations, to avoid their capture.

According to the congress, the specific regulations mentioned will be established by the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, known as INCOPESCA.

"In addition, every vessel must have its satellite equipment installed and in proper operation, according to the law," said congress.

Other changes that would be made to the law are banning shrimp fishing with nets in coral reef areas. Areas with coral reefs would be delimited by INCOPESCA as well.

Also, another change would be to grant licenses for shrimp fish for commercial purposes only to vessels registered in Costa Rica.

One of the deputies who approved a vote in favor of
the bill, was the Melvin Núñez-Piña, who said that the people who oppose this bill are based on erroneous information because a modern fishing technique is now available.

On the other hand, Paola Vega, who voted against
the bill, said that the court will review the content and a series of substantive errors will be found. So she believes that the court will reject the bill.

The bill No. 21478 will be scheduled next week, to be voted in the second round by deputies.

However, there is the possibility that the deputies who voted against the bill, will request the Constitutional Court to review the bill before this second round of voting.

In May, representatives of the government and the fishing sector announced the agreements in the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the Costa Rican Bar Association.

"From the agro-productive sector we are aware of the need to maintain an open and constant dialogue with the national fishing sector," said Renato Alvarado, minister of Agriculture and Livestock. "By reactivating these meetings we reaffirm our commitment to this productive sector."

According to the ministry, meetings have been started with representatives of the government and the fishing sector to reach agreements on fish regulations.

The main agreements were:

- Setting meetings to analyze issues of sports fishing, artisanal fishing, and shrimp trawling.

- Representatives of the United Nations, Ombudsman's Office, deputies of the province of Puntarenas will participate in the meetings as guarantees of the dialogue and negotiation process.

- Representatives of the Fishermen Chamber, Fishermen Union, Sport Fishing Associations, among others will participate in the meetings.

- Authorities of the Fisheries Institute and the Ministry of Environment, among others, will participate in the meetings.

In January, the government announced an investment of almost $5 million in shrimp fishery studies. INCOPESCA signed a cooperation agreement to invest in about $4.9 million in  a study on the consequences of the elimination of trawling.

According to the institute, the results of these analyses will be the basis for determining if it is possible to make sustainable use of the shrimp resource and to establish its maximum sustainable yield parameters.

It will also define the levels of non-shrimp fauna caught in the nets and determine seasonal closures to protect the species when it is in its reproductive period to protect those reproductive peaks.

According to Moisés Mug, President of INCOPESCA, "from these studies you have information on the behavior of shrimp pinky (Farfantepenaeus brevirostris), fidel (Solenocera agassizi) and camels (Heterocarupus vicarius and Heterocarpus affinis), which allows the design of management and conservation measures of a trawl fishery."

This study will identify the areas in which each species is distributed, considering factors such as the quantity and depth of the populations and whether there is greater abundance according to a particular time of the year.

The National Learning Institute, which is also collaborating in the study, said the new investigations complement those already developed to the percentages of exclusion of accompanying fauna in the trawl fishery of deep-sea shrimp pinky and fidel shrimp.

These studies will be carried out within 24 months, providing the first report at the beginning of 2020, to compare at least two years of data and consider possible variations caused by the ENSO phenomenon (known as the climatic phenomenon of El Niño and La Niña).

The institution hired six biologists and six fishing technicians, who, after getting the results of the study, would provide training in the following activities:

- Producers in preparation of sausages and other foods for humans or animals, using the accompanying fauna.

- Elaboration of trawl fishing systems following national regulations.

The fishing institute will also hire six vessels to carry out experimental fishing.

On August 2013, the Supreme Court, known as Sala IV, ruled that shrimp trawling is contrary to the principles and contents of the International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and the Code of Ethics for Responsible Fisheries and Aquaculture in the United States of the Central American Isthmus.


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