Dumping of agrochemical pesticides and herbicides in the waters of two rivers in Costa Rica this week is suspected to be behind massive slaughters of aquatic life. A number of news media outlets have reported the events, and Fuerza Publica investigators are looking for those responsible.
Dead Fish in San Pedro Creek
The municipality of San Carlos, one of Costa Rica’s most important agricultural regions, asked the Ministry of the Environment to investigate the deaths of dozens of fish found floating belly up this week in the waters of the San Pedro creek, just west of Ciudad Quesada. Members of the community of Barrio Cristo Rey, located about a kilometer west of the San Carlos High School, were the first to spot the schools of dead fish floating downstream. Later that day, neighbors whose homes are near the banks were surprised to find guapotes (wolf fish) and barbudos (catfish) lining the edge of the creek.
The San Pedro creek provides choice fishing spots enjoyed by both the community and freshwater fishermen visiting from the Central Valley.
Radio Santa Clara 550 AM interviewed members of the community who explained that there had been a strong scent of herbicide in the air. Fuerza Publica officers dispatched to the scene collected water samples for further analysis. Farmers expressed their concern since the San Pedro creek flows into the Peje River, a main water source for hundreds of hectares of farmland. Further north, neighbors of a small community in Upala reported a similar incident weeks ago, but officials have not yet released information on it.
Shrimp Fishermen Turn to Poachers in the Nosara River
According to reports from digital newspaper Voz de Nosara, the lucrative shrimp catch business in the Nosara river in Guanacaste is bringing out the worst in the fishermen. An article written by Adam Dietrich and Ariana McKinney, exposes a dark side to the shrimp business, one that moves unscrupulous individuals to dump agrochemical pesticides in the river waters in order to make their catch easier.
According to the Voz de Nosara article, a fisherman noticed hundreds of small shrimp on the surface of the river, along with a few dead fish floating belly up and decomposing. This was not the first time Don Javier Hernandez Jiron had seen such a ghastly sight. Heavy rains in early April bring out the shrimp bandits who know that this is one of the two best times to catch the coveted jumbo shrimp. The other occasion is still months away, at the end of the rainy season.
The traditional method of catching shrimp is by hand, at night. To make this process less arduous, nefarious shrimp catchers dump pesticide on the water to poison the shrimp, which end up dead on the surface. Once that is accomplished, it is a matter of picking up the large shrimp and leaving the rest.
The chief of the local Tourism Police knows of one confirmed case of water poisoning dating back to 2011. Such clandestine fishing and willful damage to the environment could lead someone behind bars. There is more than just the dead shrimp to consider: once these poisoned shrimp are on the market they could also become toxic to the humans who consume them.