Costa Rica’s New “Blue” Agenda

by on Friday, 24 August 2012

On the picture above at this meeting, from left to right: René Castro, Costa Rica Ministry of Environment and Energy; Leonora Jiménez; Costa Rica International Model; Sra. Laura Chinchilla: Costa Rica Gobernante President; David Chacón, Artisanal Fisherman and President of Coopetárcoles Fishing Cooperative; Randall Arauz, Environmental Goldman Prize; Andrés Jiménez, ISV Supporter and “Consultant” © used with permission by Wagner Quiros, ISV Costa Rica

National and international environmental policies have direct impacts on local conservation initiatives. Motivated individuals and groups of people have to lobby directly to governments in order to raise attention to vital issues with the goal of greater protection of natural resources and cultural heritage.  This blog is about a positive event that happened recently that gives us hope for the future.

Since 2002 in Costa Rica ISV has supported grass-roots initiatives in several marine conservation and research projects at both Pacific and Caribbean coasts. ISV volunteers have been actively involved in programs in: Playa Gandoca; Playa Nancite; Playa Ostional; Pacuare Sea Turtle Conservation Projects; Golfo Dulce Cetaceans Research Project; and San Juanillo and Tárcoles Responsible Fishing Areas.

Sunset over San Juanillo’s proposed sustainable fishing area, Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

In partnership with local host organisations and community groups we have accomplished great results over the years; however often the success of certain initiatives is still governed by national policy.

In November last year Andrés Jiménez from ISV’s Costa Rican office, prize-winning biologist Randall Arauz, International Model Leonora Jiménez and artisanal fisherman David Chacón from Tárcoles met with Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla.  The goal was to highlight the sustainability of Costa Rica’s artisanal fishing communities and the threats to marine resources on which their livelihoods depend. Their presentation (in Spanish) can be found at

During this meeting the President committed to the creation of a commission of experts to evaluate our marine governance. This was the first step and it showed great commitment from the government to pay attention to our marine territory which is around 500,000 km2 compared with Costa Rica’s land territory of 50,000km2 yet the land to date have received the most funding and focus from government bodies. It is exciting to see the new ‘blue’ (as in oceanic) agenda to our government’s stated priorities!

Last week, after six months of investigation by the presidential commission, Randall, David, Leonora, myself and others were invited to the Costa Rica Presidential house to hear their results.

The main recommendations from the Commission were:

  • Urgent action is needed to totally reform of Costa Rica´s Fishery Institute to improve the governance of marine resources
  • A marine authority must be created which reports directly to the president with the task of overseeing Costa Rica’s oceans and activities.
  • Create several new laws designed to protect Costa Rica’s marine resources so they may be used sustainably.
  • Promote and invest in enhanced scientific research and the training of Costa Rican researchers
  • Propose a national vision that guarantees the sustainable use, security and conservation of marine spaces and resources

This is a very important step forward for the country, now we have to make sure that the main users, small scale fishermen and women, are also being heard so that we cover all bottom-up as well as top- down levels of decision making and responsible fishing efforts.

Wagner Quiros, ISV Costa Rica Project Director

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