National Conference in Costa Rica will gather ocean workers to devise strategies that will reduce unlicensed small-scale fishing.

Dani Meneses • 2 November 2021

In Costa Rica, 8 out of 10 fishers are unlicensed. In this conference, participants will work to create a plan of action to reduce unauthorized small-scale fishing. Obtaining licenses will improve the quality of life, access to jobs, and sources of financing for an estimated 15,000 people nationwide.

The plan of operation is defined in the 2nd National Congress of Small-Scale Artisanal Fishers and Mollusk Gatherers 2021 by the Cooperative CoopeSoliDar. The congress will be held on the 8th through the 10th of November at Hotel Villa Lapas in Garabito, Puntarenas.

CoopeSoliDar organizes the meeting along with Red de Areas Marinas de Pesca Responsable. Present will be around 60 inhabitants of territory Bribrí, Puerto Pochote, Puntarenas, Tarcoles, Isla Chira, Puerto Jiménez, Sierpe, Cahuita, Valle La Estrella, Barra del Colorado Sur, Barra del Colorado Norte, Playa Blanca, Chomes, Lepanto, Cabuya, Costa de Pájaros, Isla Venado, Territorio Boruca, and San Juanillo.

According to Ivannia Ayales Cruz (President of the board of directors for CoopeSoliDar), most communities work without a proper organization, which becomes an almost insurmountable barrier. She also stated that getting more small-scale fishers to strengthen their connections with legally established organizations is a step in the right direction. Being legitimized allows them to fight for their rights, gain the credit they deserve, and improve their products’ ability to market with other business partners.

Plan of Action

According to the congress program, practical experiences will highlight the inequalities that developing communities face. The largest of which is an inability to meet their basic needs. Another issue is the necessity to incorporate, value, and improve the working conditions of fisherwomen and female mollusk gatherers. Fortunately, there have been improvements; fishers and gatherers now have access to an organized and fair market in San Jose to sell their products. The market highlights the consumption of sustainably caught fish while educating the public about the importance of small-scale fisheries.

Fishing is essential for the country and the local economy, explains María Carrillo Co-Coordinator of the Red de Areas Marinas de Pesca Responsable y Territorios Marinos de Vida. She continues, fishing generates food security and is sustainable; on the other hand, it can be pointed out that artisanal fishing mainly operates informally. This unlawful manner of operation brings socio-economic consequences. Often, those who dedicate their lives to this type of fishing live below the poverty line and find themselves in vulnerable situations.

In Costa Rica, the length of the coastline where artisanal fishing takes place is around 1,228 kilometers, 1,016 km on the Pacific coast, and 212 km on the Caribbean coast. The communities that inhabit this coastline provide a critical source of employment and have a tremendous impact on the supply and demand of ocean commodities. However, they are more than their effect on the country. They preserve a way of life, centuries-old, and embody what it truly means to be Costa Rican.


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