First two coastal radar stations are part of an eventual 13 setups

Radar stations in Caldera and Isla del Coco are the first of some 13 stations that will cover all of the Pacific and Caribbean coast, Casa Presidencial said Thursday.

President Laura Chinchilla visited the Caldera station Thursday morning and then went to the distant island.

The $25,000 radar setup at the Estación Guardacostas Caldera-Puntarenas was financed by the U.S. Southern Command.

President Chinchilla noted that there is more to the network of radar stations than just catching drug smugglers. The radar will keep an eye on all of Costa Rica’s waters to prevent any incursions by other countries. The country is now involved in an international dispute with Nicaragua over conflicting borders in the oceans

The radar will be linked to an automatic identification network, similar to those used by airplanes so that any ship can be tracked. Casa Presidencial also noted that the radar network also will be much more effective than the patrolling by coast guard boats.

The Caldera station has a range of some 50 miles and can cover all of the gulf of Nicoya.

The radar station in Isla del Coco cost $3.6 million and has been financed by donations by Conservation International, the Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre and government agencies.  It has a reach of some 35 nautical miles.

The area around the island is a protected zone but there are many cases of illegal fishing there because the ocean is populated densely by marine life.

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