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Costa Rican Tuna Universities Cut Off From Fishing Income

A warning about removing money from tuna fishing for two public universities in Costa Rica was announced by the Frente Amplio legislator José María Villalta ealier this week.
Villalta alerted the public universities about a decree issued by the Executive Legislation Authorities and published on February 23rd inwhchi they seek to deprive the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National University (UNA), part of the income they are entitled to and derived from the payment of fishing rights by foreign-flagged tuna boats.
Article 51 of the Fisheries Act states that -of all the income generated by these vessels that pay fees for registrations, licenses, fines and restitutions- 25 percent will be for the funding of the Regional Office of the UCR Puntarenas, another 25 percent for the career of Marine Biology UNA and 20 percent for colleges and regional campuses UCR Limon and Guanacaste.
However, Article 10 of the decree states that the resources generated “by the annual payment of tuna fishing rights established in this regulation, will go to fund the normal operations of INCOPESCA.”
“In a clearly illegal act, they are trying to alter the specific purpose of the funds established by law and divert the resources of the higher public education towards the inoperative INCOPESCA (Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries). This is shameful”, Villalta says.
The Fisheries Act distributes to universities and other entities the funds generated by all of the fees paid by foreign tuna vessels -for their registration and fishing license- with no exceptions.
However, Villalta said that the decree aims at inventing a special scheme for the allocation of fishing rights from the “tuna fishing capacity” granted to Costa Rica by the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Thus, according to the decree, INCOPESCA grant “authorizations” to fishing rights to foreign tuna vessels using IATTC quotas. However, the resources generated by the payment of these rights would not be governed by Article 51 of the Fisheries Act, but would fully go to INCOPESCA.
“This is only a crude maneuver to dodge the specific purpose in favor of the public education. The law does not exclude IATTC quota payments from the obligation of allocating resources to public universities and colleges. All revenue from the payment of tuna fishing rights by foreign tuna boats must be distributed under Article 51. There is no legal basis for INCOPESCA to remain with 100% of the resources,” he said.

Therefore, Villalta called on the university communities of the UCR and the UNA, as well as colleges, teachers, students and administrators, “so that we can demonstrate in defense of public education funding and not allow this maneuver, which aims at cutting the resources of regional headquarters in the coastal provinces.”