Costa Rican oceans are the most ‘healthy’ in Central America

The diversity of marine species, adequate protection in coastal and artisanal fishing areas are the factors to put Costa Rica at position No. 38 of the comprehensive index of ocean health.

The study was conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California and was published in the scientific journal Nature.

Costa Rica obtained 61 of 100 possible points, beating the rest of Central America and Mexico.

The weakest aspects of the country are the lack of cultural value in the tourism and a deficient protection of ecosystems that help in the fixation of carbon.

“We have to reorient tourism to intrinsic values, beyond the economic factor. When beaches are sold to tourists we ignore what represents the small-scale fishing activity and the protection of mangroves, “said Bernardo Aguilar, executive director of the Foundation Neotrópica.

To improve we have to do studies to design public policies that promote sustainable extraction and culture appropriate to the conservation of wetlands.

“The index provides an excellent parameter to consider what things are doing well and what should be changed in every nation,” said Ben Halpern, director of research in California.

One of the initiatives that are promoted in Costa Rica is the marine governance plan, which has been developed in conjunction with the draft law for the creation of the Deputy Minister of Water and Mares.

“In a country where only a rare financed and weak, as is Incopesca, it is important to develop these initiatives to account for marine resource,” said Aguilar.

The index considers a total of ten goals overall, that take into account factors such as the number of jobs and income generated from the ocean and features protection and sustainable harvesting of non-food products such as coral, shells and fish aquarium.

“Fishing is one of the most important services that the sea has to offer and one of the areas of greatest impact on the sustainability of ocean ecosystems,” the study concludes.