Costa Rica: Sustainable Fisheries


The overexploitation of marine fisheries is a major global issue and a key driver of changes in the marine environment. A variety of related factors are behind this, including our growing global appetite for seafood. With 3.5% of the world’s marine biodiversity and a valuable fishing industry, Costa Rica is one of the countries facing the difficult challenge of balancing pressing conservation needs with the further development of a vital economic sector.

In 2016, the National Platform for Sustainable Fisheries of Large Pelagics, led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, alongside the Costa Rican Institute of Fishing and Aquaculture and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and enabled by UNDP Green Commodities Programme was launched. This Platform provides a neutral space where stakeholders from across the industry can discuss the challenges they face and what a sustainable industry for large pelagic might look like.  

This Platform is part of the Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities project, which includes four countries: Vietnam, the Philippines, Ecuador and  Costa Rica.

In November 2018, The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), with the support of the UNDP Green Commodities Programme, officially presented the National Action Plan for Large Pelagic Fisheries 2018-2030. The National Action Plan is the result of a process of dialogue which lasted for twelve months and in which more than one hundred people participated, such as government officials, academia, civil society, international cooperation, fishers representatives, exporters, restaurants and supermarkets.


The plan in detail

The plan, which will run for ten years, proposes 18 objectives divided into three areas of work. The first one will promote a series of precision fishery projects that seek to establish a biological, socioeconomic and productive information system, timely and of high quality for the management, monitoring, adaptation and decision making of large pelagic fisheries, based on the use of technology and improving profitability. The second strategy proposes a group of activities that allow the governance of large pelagic fisheries, with scientific, management and other capabilities, with the acquisition of the necessary equipment to be competitive, considering the social economy, and allowing the institutional framework for making decisions based on technical and scientific criteria, as well as a more efficient use of resources.

The third key strategy of the Action Plan is focused on the need to serve the global market of responsible seafood products. The aim is to position the Costa Rican supply of sustainable and high-quality seafood products of large pelagic species such as tuna, mahi mahi or swordfish into both the international and national markets, which are also demanding sustainable seafood products, through the development of a country seal, campaigns for consumers and new niches in markets for products with added value.

The implementation of the Plan will be led by a monitoring committee composed of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the governing body of the fisheries sector together with the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX), the National Learning Institute (INA), the National Longliner Sector and the National Chamber of Fisheries and Aquaculture Exporters (CANEPP), among others.

Through the National Platform of Sustainable Fisheries of Large Pelagics, it is expected to achieve an increase in demand for sustainable seafood products both domestically and internationally; and in this way, achieve the global positioning of Costa Rica as a country committed to the sustainable use of marine resources.

Currently, most of the catches of the Costa Rican Pacific of large pelagic species are destined to export. In fact, about 95% of the mahi mahi is exported to the US, which is also the main destination for tuna, with opportunities also opening in Europe. Hence the need to implement strategies to bring responsible seafood products to these highly demanding markets.

Learn more about the work of the Green Commodities Programme in Costa Rica in the 10th Year Anniversary At-A-Glance Country Guide.


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