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Costa Rica NGO Places Cameras To Better Control Illegal Fishing With New Technology

Coco’s Island, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 535 kilometers from Costa Rica, is constantly besieged by fishing vessels, despite being a National Park and an area declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
For this reason, the Costa Rican NGO MarViva, which collaborates with the patrol boats in the area, will provide the island with two special cameras to monitor all night activities with new technology.

MarViva’s technician, Luis Carlos Montero, said that he expects the cameras to be operational within a maximum of three months, for the better control of illegal fishing.

Montero explained that one of the cameras will be installed on a antenna located about 20 meters high overseeing and controlling the bays of the island, where illegal fishing vessels usually approach to intimidate the boats of the NGOs and that of the local park coastguards.

The other camera will be installed inside the MarViva patrol boat surveying these waters.

Both cameras will be connected to the NGOs headquarters in San Jose, where the videos will be recorded videos, Montero said.

“This will allow a real-time recording of what is taking place at that moment. It will also speed up the complaints procedure, because we will already have the evidence material in our hands and will no longer have to wait for someone to return from Coco’s Island to present the evidence in court,” he emphasized.

Although the island is a National Park since 1978, with a prohibition to fish within 19.2 km of sea around it, fishermen, mainly domestic, flock to this area in search of tuna and sharks.

According to coastguard Mario Gonzalez, fishermen keep entering the protected area around Coco’s Island because they are aware of the limited resources the officials dispose of and their difficulty in obtaining indictments against those who commit the offense.

“Fishermen have therefore been taking over the area, imposing force and violence” Gonzalez said.

Last year, the coastguards and MarViva detained a Panamanian vessel that was fishing in these protected waters, discovering 280 tons of tuna on board.

Although the case was submitted to the authorities, the fishermen were not convicted. They were only charged with a fine of US$ 668,000 and the boat was returned to its owners, although the vessel did lose its fishing license.

The coast guard reported that he, his colleagues, as well as their families “had received death threats.”

“The main obstacle in controlling illegal fishing is that we must catch the fishermen in the act, therefore, with the fishing nets spread out at sea,” Gonzalez said. “However, their teams are much stronger than ours and as soon as they detect our boats, the cut the fishing lines. Once the lines are cut, we have no grounds for their detention.”

In the past two months, the coastguards have seized more than a hundred bags of fishing rope, eleven boxes of fishing hooks and numerous buoys.

Coco’s Island is one of the natural treasures of Costa Rica, mainly because of its marine fauna. The island is currently competing in an international contest to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world.