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Left Wingers: Higher Charges For Foreign Tuna Seiners


Costa Rica hopes to expand its own national tuna fleet and raise charges to foreign vessels fishing in its waters in the EPO. The country wants to increase the exclusivity of its fishing grounds that have the potential catch of over 25,000 tons of tuna per year.

“Currently foreign vessels pay Costa Rica an average of only USD 37 per ton of tuna caught in its 200 miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ), despite the world market price of tuna for canning holding the value of approximately USD 2,800 per ton for yellowfin. The price is dramatically steeper for fresh tuna, which can reach a value of between USD 6,000 and 10,000”, says José María Villalta.

The proposal for the national fleet was part of a draft submitted by the deputy of the left wing party Frente Amplio, José María Villalta. He refers to the Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture by saying: “We want to reformulate the criteria established in the Act to determine the amount of fees payable by licensed foreign vessels.

“With the creation and development of a national fishing fleet we will take advantage of this resource’ wealth through cooperatives or other forms that generate significant jobs for the impoverished population of our shores.”

Foreign tuna fishing vessels are reported to have caught a total of 253,000 tons of tuna in Costa Rican waters over nine years from 2002 to 2011. The country’s own national fleet’s average yearly catch is only about 6% of that of the foreign vessels. Currently more than 90 percent of the tuna in its waters has a foreign destination.

The below graph shows the total tuna catch in the EPO annually by Costa Rican flag vessels.

Villalta added: “The Pacific Thermal Dome is an area of exceptional conditions for marine life and the proposal is aimed at establishing a management plan for the exploitation of the area, with priority for the national fleet.”

The executive director of the Costa Rican Federation of Fishing, Enrique Ramirez, told the national press that foreign vessels are not permitted to fish any closer than 12 miles from the Costa Rican coast, this area is exclusively accessible to the national fleet.