QCOSTARICA – In the middle of the discussion about the project to revive trawling on Thursday, independent legislator Zoila Rosa Volio was very critical of the situation of neglect in the province of Puntarenas, which directly affects households headed by women.
Legislators have been debating whether or not to revive trawling (“pesca de arrastre” in Spanish).
On the one hand, a group of legislators defend the process as an option to bring employment to the province, on the other hand, others are clear that the environmental impacts of trawling would bring more harm than good.
Volio justified her change of opinion on the bill, citing the situation in the coastal province, which has worsened in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since they do not have a job, they either have to engage in prostitution or sell drugs and there is no prostitution because there is no tourism, so they have to dedicate themselves to selling drugs Zoila Rosa Volio
The legislator points out that among the populations most affected by poverty and unemployment in the area are women heads of households, who in many cases do not have enough to feed their children.
“There is a word that has made me change (my opinion), the pandemic! Whoever says they the same as before 8 months ago, lucky! Because it’s taking the hell out of us all. But the most serious of all is hunger, poverty, extreme poverty, and Puntarenas is one of the most affected areas and among the most affected are women, single mothers, some with 3 children, who do not have to feed them, because they don’t have a job.
“Since they do not have a job, they either have to engage in prostitution or sell drugs and there is no prostitution because there is no tourism, so they have to dedicate themselves to selling drugs,” said the legislator.
Volio highlighted the case of a woman who was imprisoned for selling drugs and transferred to the Vilma Curling (Buen Pastor) prison for women in Desamparados (San Jose), which also caused the uprooting of her young children, who cannot even visit her.
“I am a woman, I am a mother and if my children are hungry, I will do whatever it takes to feed them,” emphasized the legislator.
Volio said that it is necessary to give the population of the area a chance and that, although protecting the environment should be a priority, it should not be above the social and economic aspects.
Legislators have been carrying out an intense discussion this week on trawling, in which there are antagonistic positions.
Legislator Ana Karine Niño has been one of the most critical of the project, emphasizing the serious environmental and social impact it would have. “It is totally inconvenient for the country. The negative effects are in the sight and patience of all in the social, environmental, and economic fields. The fact that this project is approved today does not guarantee – under any circumstances – the granting of licenses, nor does it automatically generate employment.”.
Legislator Melvin Nuñez has been the subject of conversation on social networks because he stated that the fauna that is extracted in trawling and that does not represent the species that is sought, is used for the preparation of “croquettes” for cats.
On Thursday, October 22, prior to the suspension of sessions due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Legislative Assembly building, legislators approved the bill that would reactivate trawling, despite the lack of scientific studies that support the sustainability of this activity.
The final vote was 28 in favor and 18 against of the legislators present in the Assembly floor (“Plenario” in Spanish).
According to the bill, the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Incopesca) may grant temporary licenses while conducting new studies to technically support the activity.
One of the categories of licenses will be for semi-industrial shrimp fishing in the Pacific Ocean and Incopesca will be the entity that will determine the usable shrimp species.
However, fishing with trawl nets will be prohibited in estuaries, river mouths, reefs, national parks and in any other area delimited by Incopesca.
The bill approved this Thursday by the congressmen would reactivate semi-industrial trawling in the country as long as it is not vetoed by President Carlos Alvarado. Months ago, the former Minister of the Environment, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, affirmed that the Executive maintained its opposition to the extractive activity, but that the decision to veto or not the initiative would be left to the President.
Opposition to trawl fishing
Nine chambers of tourism, 11 Guanacaste municipalities and more than 25 associations of fishermen from the artisanal and tourist sector of Costa Rica gave their thumbs down to the approval of “Proyecto de Ley para el Aprovechamiento Sostenible de la Pesca de Camarón”.
This type of fishing is a technique that uses large nets to “sweep” the seabed and capture shrimp; however, it also collects other non-target species such as small (juvenile) fish, sharks, turtles, rays, mollusks, crustaceans, urchins, starfish, and other invertebrates.
By scraping the seabed, sediment is removed, which causes turbidity in the water and directly affects the sites for diving and snorkeling. It also causes damage to fish ecosystems that are a source of food for species of tourist interest such as dolphins,” declared the director of the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (CATURGA), César Gallardo.
The municipalities that add to the rejection of trawl fishing are: the Federation of Municipalities of Guanacaste (Abangares, Bagaces, Cañas, Carrillo, La Cruz, Hojancha, Nandayure, Nicoya, Liberia, Santa Cruz and Tilarán), as well as the municipalities of Colorado de Abangares and Lepanto de Puntarenas, who expressed their opposition to the project in support of various statements made by 25 fishing organizations from the communities of the Pacific coast of the country.
“We are going to see what response the president gives us between now and Tuesday. If he has not vetoed it by Tuesday, we will probably be on the street blocking between Thursday and Friday,” said Martín Contreras, president of the Guanacaste Chamber of Fisherme.
Contreras assured that “the entire fishing sector of the province” will take to the streets to demonstrate if President Carlos Alvarado does not veto the bill.
Like the fishermen, the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (Caturgua) requested the veto of this bill and assured that it would begin contact with the Executive Power.
For his part, the Minister of Communication, Agustín Castro, assured that in the Casa Presidencial there is still no decision on a possible veto of this bill. “As soon as it (the bill) arrives, an analysis of its contents will be carried out,” said Castro.
In a visit to Puntarenas on September 30, President Carlos Alvarado stated that he was awaiting the decision of the legislators in the second debate.