Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC)

Barra del Colorado, the first Fisheries Management Plan for a responsible fishing area in Costa Rica

As part of the activities framed within the REBYC II LAC project, and given the legislative restrictions towards shrimp trawling in Costa Rica, organized communities, along with fishing authorities and the scientific community, promoted the creation of the first “Responsible Fisheries Management Plan for Barra del Colorado”; its main objective is to demonstrate the sustainability of artisanal fishing in this region, and therefore, to provide continuity to the way of life of the communities that engage in shrimp fishing in Barra del Colorado.

In 2013 Costa Rica’s Constitutional Supreme Court resolved to suspend the granting of new licenses and the renewal of existing licenses for shrimp trawling until there is a legal reform and technical-scientific studies that demonstrate the environmental and social sustainability of these type of fisheries in the country. This situation resulted in communities, like those of Barra del Colorado, seeing the continuity of their way of life threatened. For this reason and, seeking a solution that granted long-term artisanal fishing rights in a sustainable manner, artisanal fishermen and shrimp peelers from Barra del Colorado, with the support of the INCOPESCA’s Extension and Training Department, the Regional Directorate of Limón from INCOPESCA, FAO through the REBYC-II LAC project and with the technical cooperation of CoopeSoliDar RL, proposed the creation of a “Plan for the Management of the Barra del Colorado Responsible Fishing Marine Area” as the ideal mechanism for conservation and use of marine resources in this region.

The joint effort and hard work aimed at determining the sustainability of the artisanal fishery, incorporating scientific knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, traditional knowledge and cultural aspects of the communities that have been fishing in this area for decades. In addition, a socio-economic and biological baseline was defined for the creation of the Responsible Fishing Marine Area, developing monthly participatory workshops with the association of fishermen and female shrimp peelers. Likewise, the Local Council has been a fundamental governance structure for the participation of different actors and for the articulation of actions aimed at the rational use of fishery resources. The result was a Management Plan that not only provide strict guidelines for fishing activities, but also a document that incorporates the knowledge and aspirations of a whole community.

Some of the elements that can be highlighted from this Management Plan are: definition of 6 special management zones, which combine use of fishing resources and conservation of sensitive habitats. Also, definition of type and characteristics of fishing gear allowed, proposals for fishing seasons closures, generation and recording of scientific information for management, definition of monitoring and research programs, definition of training programs for local fishers and, finally, a detailed work plan for sales and marketing strategies. All of these actions, framed in a context of well-defined responsibilities and timelines. 

Costa Rica