Flip-flop, flip-flop… What is that sound you hear? That is sound of the Costa Rican government repeatedly flopping back and forth on the topic of shrimp trawling in Costa Rican waters. In what was originally seen as a large victory for the environment, last year Costa Rica passed a law that would in all effect ban shrimp trawling by not renewing or issuing new trawling licenses to anybody in Costa Rica.
That victory for environmentalist was short lived though, as the same day the law went into affect a bill was presented making shrimp trawling legal again based on the “wording” that shrimp trawling is unsustainable. When in fact the first bill stated that new license would be issues once a proven way to reduce bycatch which is the netting of anything besides shrimp that is responsible for the death 15,000+ sea turtle each year. What is even more sad is that a proven way to reduce by catch is already available! They are called turtle excluder devices (TED’s).
This new law would allow the current shrimp trawling fleet of 39 boats to continue and would renew their current licenses but not issue any new trawling licenses. The new law in no way addresses the current use of out dated trawling nets that have lead to Costa Rican shrimp being banned in some contries (including the USA) do the known effect it is having on the environment. The use of TED’s are required by U.S. law.
What we have here is a clear failure of the government to induce any change to an industry that is knowingly destroying one of Costa Rica’s natural resources.
The initial law set forth a president that shrimp trawling would only be allowed if the Costa Rican fleet was brought up the worlds standards of environmental protection. This of course was quickly reversed and now we are left with a watered down version that does nothing to bring forth any change to an industry that single handedly responsible for 4,000-6,000 cubic tons of bycatch (dead marine life not including shrimp) per year.