Save The Waves Coalition

Victory for Pavones!

Save The Waves is thrilled to announce that the Government of Costa Rica has halted plans to construct a tuna farm at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The proposed project consisted of the construction of 80 tuna farms which would have caused significant pollution of the nearshore waters close to Pavones and Punta Banco on the southern edge of the Golfo Dulce.

This is a victory for all the groups working on the issue especially Pretoma who led a successful campaign against the project together with attorneys, the surfing community, local organizers, and many more. Save The Waves worked to bring this issue to the light through the media and to galvanize the international surfing community to encouage the government to stop the project.

Below is the press release issued by Andy Bystrom, who spearheaded Pretoma's No Tuna Farm Campaign.

On Monday November 7, 2011 Costa Rica’s Environmental Secretariat (SETENA), via official document 2723-2011, stated it would no longer consider Granjas Atuneras de Golfito SA’s  petition to construct a yellow fin tuna aquaculture project, or tuna farm, at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce.  SETENA’s decision permanently closes the case on Granjas Atuneras’ (the company responsible for the project) 7 year campaign to bring industrial aquaculture to Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific coast.

Concerned Pavones Fishing Association president William Mata points out the proposed tuna farm location earlier this year (photo: Andy Bystrom)

SETENA’s decision to stop the tuna farms was based on an existing Supreme Court order against the project, the company’s apparent falsification of information in its environmental impact assessment, and the expiration of project permission granted by SETENA in 2004 and in 2008, among other factors.

“So many people worked to stop the tuna farms: Golfo Dulce residents, the Pavones No Tuna Farms Association (ANAGA), the international surfing community, national and international NGOs, attorneys, and many more,” said Andy Bystom, a Pretoma consultant.  “On behalf of everyone involved, we’d like to applaud SETENA’s decision to stop this project.”

Approval of the project would have meant the installment of up to 80 circular tuna cages located 1 km off the coast of some of Costa Rica’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches.  Tuna aquaculture would have also been a major contributor to biological waste that could have potentially degraded water quality along economically important surfing and ecotourism areas, as well as negatively impacted local fish stocks.

One caveat in the tuna farms episode relates to recent free trade agreements between Costa Rica and China that allow for the commercialization of farm raised tuna.  Because of these new economic relationships, more industrial aquaculture projects could be proposed in the near future.  “For this reason, it’s imperative we continue to gather information on the importance of maintaining the environmental integrity of our coasts both for the economic development of local communities and for the protection of endangered species,” said Bystrom.

Read more background on the tuna farm issue including the falsified document controversy.