Snapper fishery rebounds in Coyote and Bejuco, Nandayure, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

by | Apr 20, 2020

Attributed to the Constitutional Court’s mandate to ban shrimp trawling.

(Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica – April 20, 2020)

The small scale fishers of Coyote and Bejuco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, landed more spotted rose snapper in 2019 than they had ever landed in any of the 12 previous years since records have been kept, with more than twice as much snapper landed when compared to 2011.  The rebound in the production of the most important commercial species of this fishery is attributed to the ban on shrimp trawling, which has propitiated the recovery of the population.  This is the main conclusion of a Preliminary Report of Results distributed by the non-profit organizations (NGOs) Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation, based in Colorado, and the Costa Rican Endangered Marine Species Rescue Center (CREMA) of Costa Rica.

A process initiated in 2007 with the fishers of Coyote, to which the Bejuco fishers joined in 2009, to obtain a sustainable fisheries certification.  Even though a spotted rose snapper stock assessment performed in 2016 concluded that the population still wasn’t overfished, it also pointed out that fisheries induced mortality by shrimp trawlers was biologically unsustainable.  A process to ban shrimp trawling through a 2013 Constitutional Court mandate culminated in August of 2019.  The authors of the study consider that the shrimp trawl ban translates into a greater availability of the snapper resource for small scale fishers as well as enhanced reproduction capacity, which propitiates the recovery of the population.

“Its only logical that the spotted rose snapper fishery is better now in the absence of the pressure exerted by the shrimp trawlers,” said an enthusiastic Amado Quirós, a small-scale fisher from Coyote.  “The huge shrimp trawlers didn’t come here to target shrimp, but rather spotted rose snappers and other resources, and we couldn’t compete with our small-scale fishing vessels,” reminded Quirós.

“Not only is the spotted rose snapper population recovering, so are other species that live in deeper waters, such as congrids and groupers,” affirmed Miriam Vargas, small scale fisher of Bejuco.  “This is of the utmost importance for us as the spotted rose snapper is a seasonal resource and we need options when its abundance seasonally declines,” explained Vargas.

According to Jeffry Madrigal, co-author of the study and representative of CREMA, more actions are now necessary to improve the management of the spotted rose snapper fishery in Nandayure.  “This year we are going to focus on obtaining more data on certain parameters, such as total production, total fishing effort, abundance of larvae and migratory movements of snappers,” informed Madrigal.

Concern exists however, among NGOs and small scale fishing organizations over a bill that would reinstall shrimp trawling in Costa Rica, the viability of which is currently under consultation by the Constitutional Court.

“I hereby call on the Judges of the Constitutional Court to declare the bill that would reinstall the destructive and unsustainable shrimp trawling industry in Costa Rica a violation of our constitution,” said vehemently Randall Arauz, of Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation.  “No academically acceptable science exists to claim that shrimp trawling can be done sustainably in Costa Rica, and would only function in detriment of the small scale fishers who have to opportunity to exploit this resource in a responsible and sustainable fashion, to the benefit of the public interest,” affirmed Arauz.

For more information:

Randall Arauz

Fins Attached Marine Research and Conservation

+506 8708 8253

Jeffry Madrigal

Centro Rescate de Especies Marinas Amenazadas CREMA

+506 8859 6514

Miriam Vargas


+506 8325-4664

Amado Quirós

Pescador de Coyote

+506 8718 5406