FAO marine protected area report includes Costa Rican case study
Multiple government institution “rivalry” to improve country’s small-scale fisheries hinders effective management
(San José, Costa Rica – February 22, 2017)
On February 20, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Fisheries Expert Group released a report on marine protected areas (MPAs) and their role in fishery livelihoods and food security based on case studies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. The report contains an analysis of Costa Rica’s coastal MPA System and its effectiveness in managing the country’s small-scale fisheries written by Andy Bystrom, an environmental consultant and marine researcher at the University of Costa Rica.
Bystrom’s analysis states that thousands of Costa Rican households rely on artisanal fisheries for their economic well-being. However, the country’s coastal MPA system has not been adequately designed to sustainably manage the country’s small-scale fisheries. In what could be deemed as a “rivalary” to attend to fishing community concerns and needs, a type of sectoral coastal management system has since taken shape. In the present system, the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (INCOPESCA) and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) have adapted to better include fishers in the MPA design and implementation process, but both institutions lack co-management governance structures that otherwise would allow local communities to absorb some of the monitoring and control responsibilities.
“Without this mutually agreed upon governance structure, the roles that MPAs in Costa Rica will play in the future concerning food security and sustainable livelihoods benefits in the country’s small-scale fishing communities will be weakened” warned Bystrom. “This situation is highlighted by the shrimp trawler that was caught illegally fishing in the Camaronal Wildlife Refuge on February 8, 2017, (not mentioned in the original FAO analysis) and its use of destructive fishing gear and resulting environmental impact that threatens a large portion of the country’s small-scale fishing population.
For this reason, it is essential for Costa Rica to continue to work through the growing pains it is experiencing and develop a coastal management system that supports the development of science based sustainable fisheries and community supported management regimes.
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