Fish deaths in central Pacific blamed on shrimp trawler

Dead fish are littering the beach at Playa Matapalo, and the chief suspect is a shrimp trawler that was working offshore.

Resident Kenneth Keyser reported the damage and provided photos. He said that the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas had been called but that officers arrived in a truck and not a boat.

The use of drag nets by shrimp trawler boats results in the catching of a lot of sea creature that are then discarded. That is the likely reason for the killing of the fish.

The damage is so bad that the Sala IV constitutional court Aug. 7 ordered a halt to the practice. The court did not order an immediate halt. It told the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura not to renew permits for this type of fishing and not to activate any inactive permits. Those fishing operations that have active permits can continue using their same equipment under close official supervision until the permit expires, said the court.

Meanwhile there is a movement in the legislature to pass a bill that nullifies the court ruling.

Government officials in the fishing institute has said that the court decision would cause shrimpers to go bankrupt.

Environmentalists generally oppose the use of drag nets, which are damaging to coral, too. There also is a movement to boycott shrimp as a food due to the environmental damage.

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