Costa Rica’s fishing practices make it “an international pariah”

At the start of this year, Costa Rica was accused of violating at least two fisheries conventions. The complaint was presented to the Office of International Affairs, Trade and Commerce (IATC) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by 18 Marine Conservation Organisations (MCOs).

The organisations requested that the NMFS should “present a negative finding against Costa Rica in its next biannual report to the US Congress and maintain its status as a nation that repeatedly practices Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.” In 2021 the country was reported as an IUU nation, and the problems and issues still hold.[1]

Randall Arauz, a Costa Rican biologist, explained that “Costa Rica has long turned over the management of fishery policy to the sole interest of commercial fisheries, disregarding science and ignoring the public interest, with the result that Costa Rica is now an international pariah when it comes to fisheries management.” He further explained that sharks and billfish are now more endangered in Costa Rican waters than they have ever been.

Also in early 2023, representatives of the School of Biology of the National University and the Marine Sciences Research Centre of the University of Costa Rica questioned the studies used by the government to support its position and refuted the idea that there existed a space for debate around the issues.

The liberal deputy Kattia Cambronero Aguiluz described the government’s attempts to claim that these issues were debatable as a return to “the old practices of the past, repeating a pseudo-study with fake criteria which enable them to validate practices that are damaging to marine ecosystems.”


  • Daniela Muñoz Solano, 09.02.23, ‘Diputada Cambronero: Tratando de revivir la pesca de arrastre, el gobierno pone en entredicho la imagen conservacionista del païs’, Semanario Universidad
  • Ileano Fernandez, 06.02.23, ‘Costa Rica faces accusation over International and US fishing violations’, Tico Times

[1]  Apologies for all the acronyms.