We are working with Conservation International Costa Rica and local harvester associations across Costa Rica to help advance projects which support environmental sustainability and socioeconomic prosperity.
These projects — initiated in late 2020 and early 2021 — span Costa Rica’s western coast and focus on fisheries and farms producing a variety of seafood, such as snapper (pargo mancha), weakfish (corvina reyna), and white shrimp (camarón blanco). Unlike many traditional sustainability initiatives, which focus primarily on environmental indicators, our work in Costa Rica also incorporates socioeconomic improvement.
This approach to small scale fisheries sustainability — which we describe in more detail here — evaluates needs, plans improvements and monitors progress against environmental, social and financial sustainability indicators.
Community based fishery improvement projects, or C-FIPs as they have been called in Costa Rica, have quickly caught on as a way to help improve the quality of seafood production and seafood harvester incomes, while also achieving conservation goals. (Learn more about C-FIPs here.)
To wrap-up 2021, our small scale fisheries team visited three of these projects, meeting with seafood harvester associations and other local stakeholders to assess the progress of the past year and plan for 2022 work.
The projects take place in three areas dedicated to responsible fisheries management and seafood production on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, known as Areas Marinas de Pesca Responsable.
Fishing villages, such as this one in the Gulf of Nicoya, rely on healthy fish stocks and marine ecosystems for food and incomes, but face challenges such as resource overexploitation, pollution and lack of effective management and enforcement.
Ocean Outcomes and Conservation International Costa Rica team members arrive at Chira Island, where they visited the members of the fishing associations of Palito (ASOPECUPACHI) and Montero (ASOMIXTA) — associations that have launched C-FIPs.
Generating a science based understanding of the needs and opportunities for local fishing communities is core to the success of any sustainable fisheries efforts in the region. In this photo, members of the fishing association COOPREPOMAR meet with Ocean Outcomes and Conservation International Costa Rica to discuss the progress of the C-FIP action plan.
The C-FIPs in Costa Rica evaluate the need for new technologies and infrastructure that will help improve product quality and reduce spoilage, such as this ice machine at the ASOPECUPACHI processing facility on Chira Island. Access to ice to keep catches cold can result in a higher price for local harvesters and reduces the amount of catch that might be wasted.
Many fisheries in Costa Rica take place in and around mangrove forests, such as this one between Chira Island and the Nicoya Peninsula. Healthy mangroves support a wide variety of biodiversity, including fish stocks on which local harvesters rely.
Shrimp harvesters on the northern part of the Gulf of Nicoya agreed to work with Ocean Outcomes and Conservation International Costa Rica to implement improvement work. Currently, there are three different farms participating and the work has led to less use of energy and medication (antibiotics), translating to savings for the harvesters.
On Chira Island, community members (some of them also members of fishing associations) participate in mangrove rehabilitation projects. Diversification of improvement activities is an important aspect of the C-FIPs — mangrove restoration supports both local ecosystems and grows nursery grounds for harvestable fish stocks.
The fishing association of San Juanillo (ASOPESJU), located on the Northwestern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, mainly catches and processes snappers and groupers. They have been working with Ocean Outcomes and Conservation International Costa Rica on a C-FIP project since February 2021.
A triple bottom line approach to sustainable fisheries incorporates economic considerations. Here, project members and the fishing association in Paquera review the results from implementation of the first year of work. This work focused on increasing business efficiency, reducing operating costs and improving product quality.
Even limited investments in processing equipment can have significant benefits. In San Juanillo, new vacuum sealers helped the ASOPESJU association to produce a higher quality and longer lasting product.
Across Costa Rica there are an estimated 6,000 number of seafood harvesters, such as this one pictured in San Juanillo. Socioeconomic and environmental approaches to fisheries sustainability helps ensure local livelihoods continue to thrive while at the same time we collectively work towards conservation goals.