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Shrimping, Good and Bad

"Costa Rica can make its shrimp fishery turtle-safe, or it can lose the privilege to sell shrimp to the U. S.", from a spokesperson from the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

On the 1st of May the United States placed a one year embargo on Costa Rican shrimp because of a failure by the Costa Rican government to monitor and punish those shrimp trawlers not using Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs). The TED is an internationally required device for commercial shrimp trawlers that allows over 90% of netted sea turtles to swim free. Last year commercial shrimp trawlers not using the TED netted over 15,000 sea turtles in Costa Rica alone, the majority of which died. Over the past five years there have been 29 unpunished offenses in Costa Rican waters among the 55 licensed trawlers and several of them have been second offenses.

I read this article first, with shock, and then disappointment in Costa Rica, the country in which I live and work, for its failure to enforce simple actions to save natural resources. Shrimping here is big business. Last year the United States bought over 161 MILLION pounds of shrimp from Costa Rican fishermen. The Costa Rican government has gotten big press internationally lately for all the green things it is doing to preserve the natural resources of the country, but it is only now getting started on preserving the waters that border it on either side, and is obviously turning a blind eye to the offenses of big business.

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