June 21st, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) A study by the Costa Rican Fishing Federation shows that between 2002 and 2011, international fishing fleets have captured at least 253,000 metric tons of tuna from Costa Rican waters, which represents about 90% of the total supply.
Priscilla Cubero, scientific director for the Federation, said in a statement that the study involved the analysis of 10 years of statistical information, as well as the last four years of data on fishing licenses granted by the Costa Rican government to international fishing fleets.
According to the study, 146 tuna fishing vessels operated in national waters in the last ten years. Most of the vessels were from Panama or Venezuela. Moreover, little of the catch is ever brought to dock in Costa Rica – some 51% of the catch is brought to dock in Ecuador, while only 15% of the catch is brought to dock in Costa Rica.
Domestic fishermen have exclusive access to the first 12 miles of Costa Rican waters from the coastline. Further than that, Costa Rican fisherman must compete for space and fish with international fleets.
Meanwhile, studies show that tuna fishing has a high impact on the marine ecosystem of the country, as it results in the unnecessary death of a host of non-target species, including dolphins, sharks, marlin, sailfish and others which are killed and discarded because the fleets are forbidden to target species other than tuna.
Some 100,000 people on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast earn their living directly or indirectly from fishing.
The National Commission of Fisheries and the Costa Rican Fishing Federation hope to open a national public debate surrounding the situation of Costa Rica’s tuna fisheries.