Eight sport-fishing associations and two fishing clubs represented by FECOP, the sport-fishing advocacy group in Costa Rica, voted unanimously against the Alvaro Ulgalde Marine Reserve even though its promoters claim sport-fishing will be allowed in the proposed law sent to the Costa Rica’s Congress.
FECOP has asked the government to reject the bill, which would create the nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.
“We (FECOP) are very much in favor of marine conservation and management of marine resources but we like it done correctly,” said Carlos Cavero, the FECOP President.
The group sent a press release citing several reasons why it cannot support the bill, which are listed below:
• There wasn’t a complete technical study done consulting with Costa Ricans who would be affected, as required the law.
- The area is larger than all other marine protected areas and encompasses areas already under protection. Proper analysis to make that change has not been completed, according to the group.
• There is no management plan or budget for proper control for an area that size effectively, which would make it only a “paper reserve.” Proponents are urging passage of the law with the management plan developed afterwards.
• The new law would change control of the area to another government agency, one that has not been so favorable to sport-fishing interests in the past.
• The proponents of this bill have used the FECOP name without authorization, making it appear that FECOP supported the bill and would be involved with management of the reserve. The affiliation continued even after FECOP requested it to stop.
• There are already procedures in place to create management areas. In 2015, 35 activities with 190 participants had workshops to create a Marine Area of Responsible Fishing. FECOP supports this procedure, which offers protection without changing control to another government agency.
The FECOP listed its accomplishments at the end of the press release:
• Stopped the exportation of sailfish from the country in 2009
• Sponsored the Tuna Decree, which protected 120,000 square miles of territorial waters from tuna purse seiners in 2014
• Backed by scientific data, FECOP lobbied the government to reduce purse seine licenses from 43 to 13 in 2017, saving 25 metric ton of marlin that would have been bycatch as well as other pelagic species and marine mammals.