Use of trawler nets for shrimp defended in legislature

The head of the nation’s fisheries institute appeared Tuesday before a legislative commission to urge rejection of a proposal to ban the use of trawler nets to catch shrimp.

He is Luis Dobles, executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura.

Lawmakers in the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Agropecuarios  are considering a bill, No. 18.543, that would, as it says, make fundamental changes in the commercial fishing laws.

The non-profit organization MarViva has embarked on a campaign to have these nets made illegal in Costa Rica. Records show that the organization has appeared before the committee.

Among other changes, the proposed law would prohibit anyone who is not Costa Rican for trawling for shrimp. Also banned would be factory ships. Dobles said that there are 69 current licenses for commercial shrimp fishing and about 37 of these are in active use. He said that by eliminating the use of trawler nets the shrimp industry would go into bankruptcy.

The discussion comes at a time when commercial and sports fishing operators say that the bounty of the ocean has been seriously depleted. The trawler nets also can snag air-breathing turtles, but the use of turtle excluded can allow these protected creatures to escape.  Costa Rica has been barred from shipping shrimp to the United States several times in the last decade because of limited compliance with the excluder rule.

Dobles also added that there was no government plan to pay off shrimp fishing workers if the nets were prohibited.

Committee members were told that there is a Sala IV constitutional court appeal involving the use of trawler nets in the country’s waters.

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