Since the 1970s, the Costa Rican government has invested in environmental policies to reforest its land, protecting biodiversity, and focusing on renewable energy. This ongoing campaign has placed Costa Rica as a pioneer in ecological systems, truly embodying its Pura Vida philosophy. Developing nations’ economies have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, driving governments and congresses to their very last resources to sustain the economic effects of lockdown. In the case of our eco-warrior country, Costa Rica, the country might have to sacrifice all of their previous green effort to withstand the COVID downturn.
The current Costa Rican congress is proposing the following guidelines that will significantly harm both their environment and their reputation:
Trawling is an unsustainable practice that involves a massive fishing net pulling from a boat in the middle of the ocean that traps all fish and mollusks that it comes in contact with. This practice is commonly used for fishing shrimps, but many other marine animals get trapped along the way, such as sharks, dolphins, octopi, and big fish.
Trawling has been an illegal practice in Costa Rica for the past seven years. Even though it is unlawful, many fishermen keep trawling in the high sea, sometimes facing high fines by marine police officers. Due to these high fines, shrimp fishermen can face bankruptcy, especially during the pandemic crisis. Besides, fishing shrimps without a net is very difficult since shrimps live at the bottom of the ocean.
Fishermen in Puntarenas, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, are pressuring the government to lift the ban and allow trawling again to benefit the local economy. When the congress was going to determine the future of trawling, twenty one members did not show up to vote, leaving other incompetents to vote for the legalization of trawling.
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Now, the entire population of Costa Rica is asking President Carlos Alvarado to veto the motion for the sake of the Costa Rican marine habitat and its ecological reputation. Whereas congress members from the conservative evangelical party are making every effort to delegitimize the ban on trawling, giving explicit and threatening examples that the only other nation banning trawling in the American continent is Venezuela. The association with Venezuela is a ploy to undermine the current government’s ecological policies.
Legalizing trawling can have a significant impact not only on the marine habitat, but on the other artisanal fishermen who have benefited from increased fish stocks thanks to the ban.
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A petition is circulating through the internet to avoid this from happening. Sign here to protect the Costa Rican Atlantic, Pacific, and the Caribbean from trawling.
Reactivation of oil and natural gas extraction
Costa Rica has been running on renewable energies: such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, for the past twenty years, which has allowed the nation to offset its carbon emissions and maintain its ecosystem’s habitat intact. The current economic crisis might stop this from being the only energy source since economists are viewing the possibility of exporting oil and natural gas to solve the financial turmoil Costa Rica is facing.
Costa Rica is rich in natural resources, including petroleum and natural gas, both found deep in the nation’s tropical jungle. This means that deforestation needs to take place to jump-start the drillings.
The shift of this economic policy’s impact on Costa Rica can shift the nation’s principal focus from biodiversity and environmental pioneers to a mass-producing developing country, similar to that of Chile, or Brazil’s economic models.
Policymakers and future politicians in Costa Rica should maintain their focus on clean energy by taking advantage of its pioneering experience to sell power to big data processing networks, such as Netflix or Google. Selling clean energy is a great revenue source and secure future business model that can offset the economic turmoil the nation is currently undergoing–particularly as the rest of the world hastens to find renewable energy sources. Let’s not go backwards, but forwards. Costa Rica needs an economic policy focused on exporting renewables, not fossil fuels.
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Participate in the ongoing petitions advocating for persistent, sustainable policies that will maintain Costa Rica as a leader in the environmental sector. If you are Costa Rican, contact your congress, make sure they know how you feel, propose better policies, and inform yourself about all candidates in both presidential and congressional elections. Meanwhile, use your voice; public opinion has the power to impact major decisions.