Taiwanese fishing vessels registered in Belize navigate the territorial waters of Costa Rica without the requisite tracking devices in violation of fishing laws.
Such were the statements made before the National Assembly earlier this week by Claudio Monge, a legislator from the Civic Action political party -but who mostly acts independently. Mr. Monge added that the executive board of the Fishing Institute of Costa Rica (INCOPESCA in Spanish) has looked into the matter, but have failed to take action.
According to an article published in the online news daily El Pais, the tracking devices that Mr. Monge referred to function by means of global positioning system (GPS) technology. Fishing interests like the Taiwanese businesses in question must be fitted with these tracking devices by law. This is a measure to protect against irresponsible fishing, poaching, or incursions into protected areas of Costa Rica. Mr. Monge claims that Taiwanese-owned vessels are willfully disabling these devices, and that INCOPESCA officials are failing to take action. These vessels should be boarded and not allowed to bring their catch ashore, argues the legislator.
Mr. Monge called attention to the case of the Fishing Vessel Hung Chi Fu and other Taiwanese fishing boats that have been found implicit in illegal shark finning in the Pacific. The Costa Rica Star has reported on the FV Hung Chi Fu and other cases in which fishing businesses from Taiwan have been caught by law enforcement while trying to skirt shark fin poaching restrictions.
Mr. Monge is a popular legislator who has called for the immediate release of Paul Watson, the controversial founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society who is currently fighting extradition to Costa Rica on charges of reckless endangerment of a vessel at sea. That incident dates back to 2002, and Mr. Monge has suggested that Costa Rica should drop the charges and invite Mr. Watson and the Sea Shepherd fleet to patrol our Pacific waters instead.