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Call for US Trade Restrictions Against Costa Rica for International Fishing Violations


Call for US Trade Restrictions Against Costa Rica for International Fishing Violations

A call for U.S. Port Access and Import Restrictions to Protect Endangered Sharks and Billfish

An international coalition of 18 Marine Conservation Organizations (MCOs) has presented evidence to the Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce (IATC) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that Costa Rica is in violation of at least two fisheries conventions as well as U.S. Public Law, and its actions threaten populations of endangered sharks and commercial billfish.

The coalition is calling on NMFS to present a negative finding against Costa Rica in its next Biannual Report in 2023 to the US Congress and maintain its status as a nation that repeatedly practices Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. NMFS had already identified Costa Rica as an IUU nation in its 2021 Congressional Report which also highlighted unsustainable fishing problems that the country has since failed to rectify.

IUU fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Until these illegal practices are halted, Costa’ Rica’s fishery threatens marine biodiversity and regional fisheries within the Pacific Central American Coastal Large Marine Ecosystem (PACA). The issuing of a negative finding for Costa Rica by NMFS could deny Costa Rican fishing vessels access to U.S. ports and potential import restrictions on fish or fish products under the U.S. Moratorium Protection Act.

Specifically, the petition lists several violations under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas treaty (ICCAT), including the illegal take of endangered hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, and thresher sharks, as well as illegal take of swordfish without a quota and overfishing of white marlin. Furthermore, it calls out Costa Rica’s failure to institute an onboard observer program after 12 years of promising one, without which it is impossible to properly document and manage its fisheries. Costa Rica is similarly in violation of its treaty obligations under the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission treaty (IATTC).

A negative listing should be a wakeup call for the Costa Rican government to take corrective actions and lead the process for other countries to take similar measures to comply with their international maritime agreements”, said a hopeful Joe Ryan, of Beyond the Se@. “This is what the world expects from Costa Rica,” affirmed Ryan.

The coalition further calls on the U.S. to encourage a list of actions Costa Rica can take to improve its fishery management practices and prevent a future negative listing including:

  • Immediate implementation of an observer program and requiring the recording and monitoring of bycatch.

  • Prohibition of directed and incidental fishing and commercialization of endangered sharks under Costa Rica’s Wildlife Conservation Law. Incidental catch of endangered sharks should be capped at a level that protects the species, with consequences for any exceedances.

  • Catch limits must be established for sharks that are not listed as endangered to establish a sustainable fishery. Once these limits are surpassed, fisheries must be suspended.

  • Immediate and permanent ban on the use of steel leaders.

  • Implement a six-month Pacific longline seasonal closure (from May to October) during the time when mahi-mahi catch is at its lowest and shark catch is at its highest. Costa Rica´s endangered shark catches are increasing, and what is described as a mahi-mahi fishery actually targets endangered sharks.

  • Promotion of green-stick yellow fin tuna fishing, or trolling, by Costa Rican fleets, and help Costa Rican longliners transition to this form of fishing when the longline fishery is closed during the months of May to October to protect sharks.


Mozambique Should Put Privinvest Boats into Operation

The next several months will be critical for Mozambique. A peace agreement signed in August between Frelimo and Renamo, its ruling and opposition parties, has set the stage for national elections on October 15. “Free and fair elections,” with results accepted by all, would bolster national reconciliation in this fragile country and would be a major step away from years of low-level conflict and acrimony. Successful elections would also build momentum for Mozambique to reach its economic potential.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Mozambique suffered from years of civil war beginning soon after its 1975 independence from Portugal. One million Mozambicans died. Earlier this year, Mozambique was hammered by two devastating cyclones. While there is hope for economic progress — the country enjoys abundant natural resources — Mozambicans will need Frelimo and Renamo to overcome their bloody past and work together, whichever party wins the election.

One area of potential cooperation is securing the country’s rich but vulnerable coastline.

Earlier this decade, the Frelimo government committed to invest some $2 billion into boats and related maritime equipment to police Mozambique’s rich fisheries, which are being illegally exploited by China and others. Another aim was to develop Mozambique’s own fishing and maritime industries, including through ship repair and building. Since then, global energy giants have committed tens of billions of dollars to developing the country’s large offshore natural gas fields. This development makes securing its coastal region all the more important for Mozambique.

Unfortunately, this effort fell apart. The international shipbuilder Privinvest, supplier to some 40 navies, delivered over 60 boats, equipment and support systems. Yet these assets remain mostly unused. Almost two dozen former Mozambican government officials, including the then-president’s son, have been charged with corruption that sunk this project. Sadly, this isn’t unusual. Transparency International labels Mozambique’s corruption as “endemic,” having cost the country nearly $5 billion between 2002 and 2014.

Without these boats in use — many are literally rusting in dock — Mozambique is doing little to protect its coast against continued illegal fishing and other harmful activities. No local fishing industry is being built. The is a major lost opportunity. Despite having “great growth potential,” it should be no surprise that fisheries in Mozambique are an “under-performing sector,” according to the World Bank. The bank also has identified “strengthening governance and management” as a key goal in developing Mozambique’s coastal economy.

The new Mozambique government that takes power after the elections should make putting these boats into the water a priority. They are simply too valuable a resource to be wasted.  Overcoming this scandal and making strides to protect and develop the country’s ocean wealth for the benefit of all Mozambicans would send a powerful signal that the country is on the right track. It would also be a tangible example that Mozambique is overcoming its devastating legacy of corruption, which would help attract badly needed foreign investment.

Effectively deploying these maritime assets would require Frelimo and Renamo to shift from the campaign and to work for the common good. The new government should figure out what went wrong but, more importantly, look ahead at what needs to go right to fix the problem. Private operators would probably be best to replace the defunct state-run companies set up to operate the boats; business consultants could help figure out the best way forward. International donors and others would likely want to help recover these fixed costs.

Too often, democracies, both young and more established, suffer from a “winner-take-all” mindset that stifles cooperation and progress. Mozambican politicians, with years of violent conflict, are particularly tested. Unless Frelimo and Renamo cooperate to solve problems, setting aside their hostility, democracy will sputter, and the country will backslide. In that case, coastal problems would only worsen.

Pope Francis just visited Mozambique. He urged “hope, peace, and reconciliation,” praising the peace deal and personal courage shown by Frelimo President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade. Both men face hard-liner opposition within their parties. Hopefully, this spirit of cooperation and reconciliation will grow in Mozambique.

The new Mozambique government will face many challenges. Expectations by Mozambicans run high, especially with the development of natural gas. Putting idle boats and other maritime assets to work to protect and responsibly develop the country’s natural wealth would be an excellent way to help meet these challenges.


Tom Sheehy is a former staff director of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Second Innovation Award Earned for Lund Boats

Fishing boat innovation and manufacturing leader, Lund Boats, took home the second award for innovation, this time for its Lund Adventure 1675 and 1775 models. The Lund Adventure was recognized as the winner for the 2019 Innovation Award, spotlighting the versatility and variety offered to market consumers. This award carefully identifies and honors suppliers and manufacturers that bring substantial new consumer marine products, particularly those that provide innovation.

“We are extremely honored to be awarded with the 2019 Innovation Award,” said Jesse Hanish, Lund inside sales and dealer support manager. “It’s our employees’ passion for fishing that continues to drive our culture of innovation and pride in craftsmanship. This is a great honor to be recognized again in 2019.”

The two models offer options for a family-friendly or new fishing fuels experience. Both boats are loaded with interior layout options and offers additional amenities such as a boarding ladder, ski pylon, bow cushions, and an impressive storage capabilities.

“Versatility is extremely important to our anglers and their families, and the Adventure puts this versatility front and center,” says Rory Wiebe, product manager for Lund. “No matter the species you choose to pursue, who you choose to bring with you on the water, or how you choose to spend your time, the Adventure makes it happen.”

About Lund
Since 1948, Lund has been building boats from the heart of lakes country in New York Mills, Minn.  Built with professional grade materials to withstand a lifetime of use, Lund Boats are guide tested and wilderness proven and demanded by more camps, resorts, fishing guides and professionals throughout North America.  Whether the preference is aluminum or fiberglass, each boat is carefully designed with fishing features and optimal fishing layouts in mind.  They’re engineered for maximum performance and superior boat control to effortlessly stay on the breaks and catch more fish, delivering The Ultimate Fishing Experience.  Lund Boats – Built by Fishermen for Fishermen. For more information, visit

Source: EIN Presswire