Shrimp processing companies in Costa Rica continue to lay workers off and shut down operations as the fishing industry suffers without regulatory laws, according to the Puntarenas fishing chamber of commerce.
Talmana, one of the nation’s principal shrimp factories, recently went out of business, leaving 132 former employees without jobs, the chamber said. Another company, Don Emmanuel del Pacífico, cut its workforce by 50 percent, it added. There is a Sala IV prohibition on trawler net fishing that damages coral and traps turtles.
The government fishing regulation agency, the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, is not allowed to issue new licenses or reactive expired ones to those who fish with shrimp trawler nets.
The Cámara Puntarenense de Pescadores is now calling on lawmakers in the Asamblea Legislativa to pass legislation that would regulate semi-industrial shrimpers. Chamber President Roy Carranza said legislators need to help fishermen by changing the fishing law
to more fairly accommodate them, or else more jobs will be lost.
“What we’re going through in Puntarenas is a true emergency,” Carranza said. “Hundreds of families are without jobs and without power to bring food into their homes. For us fishermen that get our livelihoods from shrimping, there is no other way than the modification of the Ley de Pesca, which is not a priority in the Asamblea Legislativa right now.”
The chamber has long campaigned for official laws that encourage sustainable fishing practices and allow for fishermen to have more access to fishing licenses. So far this year, two fishing licenses of chamber members have expired, leading to the layoffs of 60 workers. Carranza said another expiration coming in August will cause 30 more jobs to be lost if the government does not act quickly to turn things around.
“We feel helpless because government authorities don’t realize the impact that this brings to our families in Puntarenas,” Carranza said. “How is it possible that they don’t care about this problem and that they don’t come to us to eliminate any doubts or to know more about our livelihoods and the sustainable practices we employ?”