Analysis for enlarging the Marine Protected Area within the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, Tempisque Conservation

Area (ACT).

Technical feedback for the Management Plan, 2010.

Prepared by Wagner Quirós Pereira
ISV Costa Rica Projects Director. Project director for leatherback and black sea turtle research in Ostional Beach. Member of Costa Rica’s National Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Office number: 2560-4695


1. SOME LEGAL BACKGROUND TO CREATING THE OSTIONAL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (OSTIONAL NWR).................................................................................................................................................4 2. SOME TECHNICAL-BIOLOGICAL BACKGROUND: ...............................................................................4 2.1. NESTING AND HABITAT USE BY THE OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE Lepidochelys olivacea: .......................................... 4 2.2. NESTING AND HABITAT USE BY THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE Dermochelys coriacea: ........................................ 7 3. THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE AND GLOBAL AND NATIONAL COMMITMENTS TO CONSERVE THIS SPECIES AND ITS HABITAT IN COSTA RICA. ..........................................................................................9 4. PROTECTED AREAS WITHIN THE TEMPISQUE CONSERVATION AREA AND THEIR CONNECTION TO OSTIONAL ........................................................................................................................................ 10 5. SOME ECONOMIC BACKGROUND.................................................................................................. 11 6. OBSERVED SEA TURTLE MORTALITY, SPECIFICALLY THE OLIVE RIDLEY WITHIN NESTING BEACHES ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST OF COSTA RICA ..................................................................................... 12 7. FISHING ACTIVITIES THAT NEED IMMEDIATE REGULATION, SPECIFICALLY SHRIMP TRAWL FISHERIES. ........................................................................................................................................................ 12 8. CONCLUSIONS: ............................................................................................................................. 18 9. REFERENCES ................................................................................................................................. 20 10. ANNEXES .................................................................................................................................... 22 1. 2. MARINA IN SAN JUANILLO, CUAJINIQUIL, SANTA CRUZ. ............................................................................ 22 SAN JUANILLO’S OPPOSITION TO THE MARINA . ........................................................................................ 27


I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to those individuals who, thanks to their advice, work and feedback, helped create this technical document. To George Shillinger, the first one I contacted for providing information for this document. Didiher Chacón Chaverri, MSc., who has been the advisor of my Project in Ostional since it first began 6 years ago. Very special thanks to Dr. Roldan Valverde and Dr. Kartik Shanker for providing information and advice, to the members of the Costa Rican National Sea Turtle Conservation Network, especially Randall Arauz and Mr. Mario Boza. I would also like to thank Carlos Mario Orrego, and research assistants, Rolando Parra, Andrey Castillo and Jaykel Bran Gómez. To Maria Pilar Santidrián for sharing her ideas and data, and to CIMACO for receiving this document and analyzing it. To Felipe Gómez, Mauricio Solano and Philip Antman for the important work they did in the area and to Jose Francisco Nuñez for his support and map design. To Liliana Grandas and Mariana Vásquez for their commitment and hard work in the ISV office. Lastly, I would like to thank the local communities of Ostional, Peladas, Guiones and San Juanillo who should be the true beneficiaries of this planning process.


1. Some legal background to creating the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (Ostional NWR).
 The Law for the Conservation of Wildlife No. 6919 of November 17th, 1983 describes the refuge as being “the two hundred meters of the Maritime Terrestrial Zone that extends from the right bank of the Nosara river mouth to India Point in the district of Santa Cruz”. In 1985, executive decree number 16531- MAG (Ministry of Agriculture) of July 18th, extended this to “two hundred meters from the mean high tide line, stretching from the bank of the Nosara river mouth to Guiones Point in the district of Nicoya”. After its ratification by Law 7317 in 1992, Executive Decree number 22551- MIRENEM (Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining ) amplified the Refuge to a three nautical miles strip of coastal water in 1993.

2. Some technical-biological background.
2.1. Nesting and habitat use by the olive ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea: Since enlarging the marine part of the Ostional NWR in 1993, almost twenty years ago, studies have been done that have allowed Ostional beach to be recognized as an increasingly important nesting site for olive ridleys at a local, regional and global level. According to 2007 data (Valverde 2007), Ostional NWR can be considered the second most important mass nesting (arribada) site in the world for the olive ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea, second to Escobilla Beach in Mexico, and has more repeated mass nesting events when compared to beaches in the region of Orissa, India (Valverde 2007). This is of great significance and an important responsibility for Costa Rica. Solitary nesting of the olive ridley occurs practically year round at Ostional beach, something that does not occur on other nesting beaches in the world. On the other hand, mass nesting generally occurs once a month (Plotkin et al. 1995), which can range from several hundred turtles over a period of a couple of days during the dry season to more than 60,000 individual nesting females over the course of 6 or 7 days during the peak arribada season (Valverde 2007). Ostional has approximately 335,555 nesting females per year (Valverde 2007). Data from the University of Costa Rica indicate that the abundance of mass nesting turtles in Ostional was approximately 300, 000 nesting females per year in 1990, and in 2000, this number increased to 2,000,000 nesting females (Eguchi et al. 2007). Despite the fact that the data from these two different studies on mass nesting in Ostional report significant differences in the number of nesting females, both confirm that hundreds of thousands of olive ridleys nest each year; all of them, without a doubt, use the marine habitat of the Ostional NWR during this important part of their life cycle, before they come ashore to nest. In regard to habitat use by olive ridleys, satellite telemetry (Fig.2) was used to monitor six nesting females in 1990 and three in 1991 during the arribadas in order to provide insight into their post-nesting movements from Nancite beach, Costa Rica (Plotkin et al. 1995). This study demonstrated that after finishing their nesting cycle, the turtles did not show any social grouping or any definite routes (Plotkin et al. 1995). All of them moved in different directions, traveling independently from one another. It is important to note that, of the 6 turtles tracked, which can be seen clearly on the maps (Plotkin et al. 1995) (Fig.2), 67 % of the females lose what is observed as a circumstantial congregation trend from nesting, in the area near nautical mile 10-12 (Fig.2). This may imply that from this point, where indefinite


movement is observed in a marine area farther from the nesting beach, it is now considered to be the disperse, post-nesting period. It is just as important to note that during another study done at Nancite Beach with male olive ridleys (Plotkin et al. 1996), in five out of the six cases (83%), if a line was drawn between the first location of the males closest to the arribada nesting beach and their final location now further out to sea, there is a similar pattern as seen with the females in figure 2, a circumstantial congregation for reproduction in the 10-12 nautical mile zone (Fig.1). This implies that there are high male and female congregations prior to this distance from the coast. Despite the fact that there is a lack of information on mass nesting and post-nesting activities of olive ridley turtles at Ostional beach, one would expect a similar behavior of the males and females at Ostional beach to those that occur at Nancite beach (the only other olive ridley arribada nesting beach in Costa Rica after Ostional). Therefore, after nesting during an arribada event, the turtles would begin travelling in different directions around 10-15 nautical miles from the coast.

Figure 1. Distribution of male L. olivacea tagged with transmitters on Nancite Beach, Costa Rica. The lines represent the distance travelled by each male turtle (Plotkin et al. 1996).


Figure 2. Locations of L. olivacea nesting females during arribada at Nancite beach in 1990 and 1991 (Plotkin et al. 1995).


2.2. Nesting and habitat use by the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea: For many years, Ostional has been known mostly for its nesting of olive ridleys, but after 6 years of research on the leatherback turtle at Ostional beach, this site can presently be considered one of the most important nesting sites for this species in the eastern Pacific of the American continent. It can even be considered the second most important site on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica after Las Baulas National Marine Park (Las Baulas NMP), (Quirós and Furler 2008), which is the most important nesting site for this species along the entire eastern Pacific coast of America. It was during the report on the 2007-2008 season that Ostional was noted as potentially being one of the most important nesting site for this species after Las Baulas NMP, representing up to 10% of the total nesting reported at the national park during the same season (Paladino et al. 2008). Even reporting more nesting than Caletas beach and Junquillal combined (Arroyo et al. 2008, Francia 2008).

Table 1. Leatherback nesting at Ostional beach (2004-2010 Seasons): Season 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 TOTAL Nesting activites 24 58 53 47 34 41 257 Number of confirmed nests 19 41 38 39 23 27 187 Number of females 3 8 8 6 4 9

Since the first season researching leatherback nesting activity in Ostional began, turtles tagged within Las Baulas NMP have been recorded nesting in Ostional, and therefore, there is an important connection between the two beaches (Quirós and Furler 2008). Figure 3 shows that in a study on habitat use and inter-nesting movements that tagged 46 leatherback turtles with satellite transmitters in the Las Baulas National Marine Park, 20 (43.5%) of these females used the habitat within the 12 nautical miles in front of as well as to the north and south of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (Shillinger et al. PLoS 2008, and Shillinger et al., ESR 2010). Therefore, because some females of this species are highly pelagic, they continue to be unprotected by the current dimensions of the marine protected area. It is important to remember that figure 3 only shows those females tagged within Las Baulas NMP which then move closed to Ostional. However, it does not show the high density of points one would expect if the females observed in table 1 had been tagged, since most of those females have greater nesting site fidelity towards Ostional beach, and thus use the marine habitat of the Refuge extensively.




Figure 3. A. Distribution of female leatherback turtles tagged in Las Baulas National Marine Park and their inter-nesting locations during the 2004, 2005 and 2007 seasons. B. Dermochelys coriacea. Habitat use by 46 leatherbacks during their inter-nesting period in the region in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Image. M. Castleton and G. Shillinger, Stanford University/Tagging of Pacific Pelagics; Data from Shillinger et al. ESR 2010, Stanford/University/Tagging of Pacific Pelagics.


The fact that almost half of the leatherbacks tagged in Las Baulas NMP were found in close proximity to the Ostional NWR shows a strong link between the two sites. These points out the importance of maximizing conservation efforts at Ostional beach and Las Baulas NMP its marine protected area, in a way similar to what has been done within Las Baulas NMP through its extension, control and protection. It is also important to be consistent with efforts to conserve this species not only when it is nesting on shore, but also during its inter-nesting movements in the marine area. Ostional has documented females returning to nest up to 11 times during the same season with an inter-nesting interval between 9 and 12 days (Quirós and Cortés 2010). This demonstrates constant and significant movement in and out of the waters close to Ostional NWR when nesting. This is not the first time that protected areas and their connectivity are given importance, and what better opportunity for the ACT to include the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, Las Baulas National Marine Park, Junquillal beach, and the Caletas-Ario and Camaronal National Wildlife Refuges within the marine area of their regional initiative, the Chorotega Biological Corridor, that seeks to provide functional connectivity between protected areas located in the Nicoya Peninsula (SINAC-ACT-MINAETUCR. 2010).

3. The leatherback turtle and national and global commitments to conserve this species and its habitat in Costa Rica.
Global conventions and well known organizations that have recognized the importance of conserving this species and its habitat:     Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); includes the species Dermochelys coriacea on its Appendix I that lists species that are the most endangered world-wide, The Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles Costa Rica is Party to the Convention and hosted its Pro Tempore Secretariat; This species is considered to be among the conservation priorities of various inter-governmental organizations such as FAO; It is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN);

The Political Constitution is at the highest level of hierarchy of the country’s legal system, specifically Article 50 that establishes that all citizens have the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, referring to the fundamental right to defend the environment. Costa Rica has also signed a series of international conventions in addition to adopting other national commitments geared towards not only the protection of sea turtles, but also protected areas, biological diversity and conservation of terrestrial, marine and coastal natural resources, some of them are mentioned below:    Resolution COP2CIT-001: Conservation of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. Margarita Island, Venezuela, November 2004. Law for the Protection, Conservation and Recovery of Sea Turtle Populations, number 8325 of the 4th of November, 2002. Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, ratified by Law No. 7906 of the 23rd of August, 1999;


   

In the Regulations to the Wildlife Conservation Law, Decree No. 32633-MINAE, of the 10th of March, 2005; the leatherback turtle is included among the endangered species of fauna; Convention for the Conservation of Biodiversity and the Protection of Priority Wild Areas in Central America, ratified by Law No. 7433 of the 14th of September, 1994; Convention on Biological Diversity signed in Río de Janeiro on June 5th of 1992, ratified by Law No. 7416 of the 30th of June, 1994. Convention concerning the Protection of Flora, Fauna and Natural Scenic Beauty of the Americas, ratified by Law No. 3763 of the 19th of October, 1976

4. Protected areas within the Tempisque Conservation Area and their connection to Ostional.
Within the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT), protected areas have been created on the premise of sea turtle protection and it was considered that they include marine protected areas of 12 nautical miles in order to fulfill this intention, seeking to protect the conservationist reason for which these Wildlife Protected Areas were created: the Las Baulas National Marine Park, the Caletas-Ario and Camaronal National Wildlife Refuges (Fig. 4).

Las Baulas National Marine Park: Official Newspaper La Gaceta Nº 154 of Wednesday the 16th of
August, 1995. As its name implies, it is focused on protecting leatherback turtles. The motives do not appear in the publication of the law, but they are included in the Decree that created the Park. Motive 5, mentions the need to “to create a national park to protect in perpetuity the colony of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and other natural resources existing in the area...” (Fernández et al. 2006). The text of the law states that the protected area includes “the territorial waters of Tamarindo bay, comprised of the area between Conejo point and the southern extreme of Langosta beach…”. According to article 6 of the political constitution, the indication of territorial waters describes a distance of twelve miles from the low tide line along the coast (Fernández et al. 2006).

Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge: Official Newspaper La Gaceta Nº 154 of Friday, August 11th,
2006. “The area of interest is considered to be of great importance to the conservation of biodiversity in the region, since it presents special characteristics for conserving important species of flora and fauna associated with wetlands, among them: all species of mangrove found in the Pacific of Costa Rica, four species of sea turtles: the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), black turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata)… ” “A marine sector that includes an area of 19,846.3 hectares….”. “for a distance of 12 nautical miles until the coordinates …”.

Camaronal National Wildlife Refuge:
Official Newspaper La Gaceta Nº 83, of Monday, May 2nd, 1994. “Camaronal beach is an important site for the reproduction of a great number of coastal-marine species. Furthermore, it is a nesting site of global importance for the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), black turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii) and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)”….. “Furthermore, it includes a marine zone of 12 nautical miles, from Punta Islita to Punta El Roble, defined by the following coordinates…”. Note: The decree has already been signed by the President of the Republic and the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications and is currently awaiting publication



Figure 4. Marine protected areas within the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT).

5. Some economic background.
From the first time olive ridley eggs were harvested in Ostional 23 years ago by the Ostional Integral Development Association (ADIO), the town’s economic development has revolved around this activity. Several generations from Ostional have been born with this connection and dependency on the resource and it is necessary to protect it responsibly to ensure that future generations can do the same. The program for consumptive use of olive ridley eggs in Ostional can generate over a million dollars in annual gross revenue according to a 2003 estimate (Troeng and Drews 2004). At the same time, of nine case studies done world-wide, it was the third most important one in terms of generating income, involving more than 230 people from the community of Ostional and approximately 66 intermediaries (Troeng and Drews 2004). Protecting nests is a very important activity and, in order to do that, ADIO and their guards along with MINAET and their civil servants carry out protection efforts in Ostional, but just as important or perhaps even more important on the hierarchy level is protecting reproductive nesting females that can lay numerous nests during their reproductive life. For that reason, one of the most important approaches to ensure the conservation of this species is to protect them while they use the marine habitat on their way to the beach to nest, during inter-nesting activities, reproduction and subsequent migration. Within


the Ostional NWR these important moments in the sea turtle’s life cycle can be assured through the creation of a marine protected area that is both sufficient in size and effectively managed.

6. Observed sea turtle mortality, specifically the olive ridley within nesting beaches along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
According to data compiled by Orrego (2005), from August of 2000 to December of 2001, research was conducted to find out the natural and anthropogenic causes of sea turtle mortality along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. A total of 423 dead turtles were recorded at the 11 beaches studied and a total of 66.90% of these animals were found at Ostional. Unfortunately in 316 of the turtles, or 74.70% of the total, it was not possible to identify if they died from natural or anthropogenic causes because only their carcasses and skeletons were found. A high percentage of mortality in Ostional was expected due to its high nesting density when compared to other beaches. Therefore, it is important to reduce all types of impacts on the species that may result in their death from anthropogenic causes. Arauz (1997) reported that during one commercial shrimp fishing trip that lasted 2,556.5 hours on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, a total of 281 turtles were captured, of which 253 were Lepidochelys olivacea, 27 were Chelonia mydas and one was Eretmochelys imbricata with a mortality rate between 37.5% and 50% respectively.

7. Fishing activities that need immediate regulation, specifically shrimp trawl fisheries. (Filmed in February of 2007).

A B Figure 5. A. Shrimp boat Virginia P137 and a small boat from San Juanillo next to it (name of boat unknown). B. Same shrimp trawl vessel while fishing. Photo taken on January 8, 2007 in the company of MINAET officer Pablo Baltodano Díaz. Ostional National Wildlife Refuge.


Figure 6. Four shrimp trawlers spotted very close to the coast from the beach in front of the MINAET building in Ostional. Photo February 5, 2007.

Figure 7. Carapace and plastron of an adult leatherback found in the northern part of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Photo March 10, 2007.


Figure 8. Olive ridley arribada at Ostional beach. November 17, 2007.

Figure 9. A. Shrimp boat OH Gloria P6967. Photo taken on April 09, 2009 from inside the MINAET building in Ostional. Note: All photos shown in the previous figures include the date they were taken for any future reference.


The attached photos come of no surprise to the local inhabitants or the civil servants of MINAET, and to the contrary, the photos are few in relation to the true number of shrimp boats that year after year are observed in areas significantly close to the Ostional NWR. These vessels are not just passing through, but are also fishing in as seen in Figure 5B, where you can make out the coastline behind the vessel, and therefore, tell how close it is to continental land. Figure 8 gives us an idea of the density of L. olivacea turtles that nest during an arribada at Ostional beach, which is few in comparison to the number that can be found in the water column during the 3 to 7 days that an arribada will last. In March of 2007, the carapace and plastron of one leatherback turtle were found (Fig. 7). Although it may seem like a coincidence, according to comments made by other researchers and locals at the time, that year there were many sightings of shrimp trawlers close to the Ostional NWR. Figure 6 shows 4 shrimp boats that are traveling close to the Ostional NWR; this was one month before the remains of the leatherback turtle were found on the beach. Although the shrimp trawling fleet cannot be blamed for the leatherback turtle found, in this case it is best to apply the in dubio pro natura principle: when in doubt we should decide in favor of the environment, due to the critical status of the species previously mentioned. Coastal commercial fishing represents the leading cause of mortality in adult and juvenile sea turtles worldwide (Magnuson et al. 1990, Crowder et al. 1995, Pandav et al. 1997, Lewison et al. 2004, Gass 2006). In particular, shrimp trawling, gillnet (ex. trammel nets) and pelagic longline fisheries (Magnuson et al. 1990, Crowder et al. 1995, Pandav et al. 1997, Lewison et al. 2004, Gass 2006). Even on an arribada beach located in Orissa, India, scientists have identified that the main cause of mortality of olive ridleys is due to incidental capture from the illegal use of trammel nets and trawl fishing in waters near shore and offshore from nesting beaches (Pandav, 2000 a). Despite prohibition mechanisms, the trawlers continue to operate in waters 5 km off the coast of Orissa and 20 km in Gahirmatha, and sea turtle mortality has increased over the last ten years (Sridhar et al. 2005). The researcher, Dr. Kartik Shanker, considers that the low numbers of arribadas in some parts of India, and the high loss of olive ridley stocks in the Bay of Bengal, are a result of the large impact caused by incidental capture from fisheries (Kousik et al. 2007). In January of 2007, a shrimp boat that was fishing in the northeast sector of the marine protected area of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge was approached (Figure 5). From a distance, the type of fishing done was observed and a significant variety of sizes of different species was noted, mostly conger eel and grouper. Unfortunately they did not allow us to board the boat and take photos. A MINAET officer, Pablo Baltodano Díaz, was also present at the time. A few months later, a researcher observed illegal unloading of conger eel, grouper and shrimp by a shrimp boat in the San Juanillo Bay. Figure 10B (Gómez and Quirós 2007). It is important to mention that the artisanal Fisherman’s Association of San Juanillo (ASOPESJU) had nothing to do with this situation, which was completely at the hands of the shrimper who sent his cargo in a small, unidentified boat.


A B Figure 10. A. Shrimp boat in front of the port of San Juanillo. B. Illegal unloading of grouper, conger eel and shrimp in the San Juanillo Port by the shrimp boat. Photograph by Felipe Gómez. Taken between September and December of 2007. Conger eel and grouper are two of the 3 major target species for artisanal fishing in the communities of San Juanillo, Peladas and Guiones, therefore, the impact caused by shrimp trawlers is not only environmental, but social and economic as well. All target species for artisanal fishing (now includes snapper as well), are affected by shrimp trawl fisheries because they capture a large number of immature species that have not yet reproduced (FAO 2008), which can, over the long term, cause a collapse of artisanal fishing in the area. The local artisanal fisheries like those in San Juanillo, Peladas, and Guiones are directly affected by trawl fishing activities. The comments made in previous paragraphs on figures 5 and 10 are also supported by data from FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), which shows at other sites world-wide such as in the Gulf of Mexico, trawl fishing catches snapper as bycatch (FAO 2008). Since snapper, conger eel and grouper are considered to be shrimp bycatch species, according to comments from local artisanal fishermen, there is an increase in shrimp trawl fishing activities when a high number of these species are caught, especially snapper which has a greater commercial value. The shrimp fishermen direct their fishing efforts to the bycatch species because of the small amount of shrimp and the fact that no control exists. Overfishing is a serious problem for shrimp trawl fisheries, and this has caused an important recession in this sector (FAO 2007). It is interesting that catch data from the shrimp trawling fleet in Costa Rica shows an increase in 1993 and 2002. However, if you look closely at the information, you will see that this rise is due to an increase in fish catch, suggesting that due to a significant reduction in shrimp catch, these vessels now focus their fishing efforts on fish species of important commercial value such as snapper and grouper in shallow waters (FAO 2007). FAO 2008. Part 3. Global Study of Shrimp Fisheries Pgs 142-143. “A recent FAO study indicated that shrimp trawl fisheries are the main source of discards, accounting for 27.3 % (1.86 million tonnes) of the total estimated discards in world capture fisheries. The aggregate, or weighted, discard rate for all shrimp trawl fisheries is 62.3 percent, which is very high compared with other fisheries.” “Bycatch, particularly that which is discarded, is a serious concern because of various interconnected reasons that are not specific to shrimp fishing. First, the lack of identification of the animals captured


and discarded (many of which are vulnerable or threatened emblematic species) impedes proper assessment of their state of exploitation and any direct management, thereby raising the risk of depletion or outright extinction. Second, the bycatch creates interactions with other fisheries targeting the same species, complicating assessment and management. Third, bycatch, like directed catch, affects the overall structure of trophic webs and living habitats. Finally, the discarding of killed animals raises the ethical issue of waste of natural resources”. It is clear that the marine environment as well the communities of Ostional, San Juanillo, Peladas and Guiones are affected by shrimp trawl fishing, and for a long time they have held and expressed these concerns. Some even say that artisanal fishing drops after seeing shrimp boats fishing, and the competition is unfair. It is also clear that the artisanal fisherman will now have more restrictions than ever under the management plan and, therefore, it is fair that if the law limits them from using gill nets, then trawl fishing within and around the Ostional NWR should be eliminated, and it should support a sustainable fishing initiative by amplifying the Marine Area of the Ostional NWR to include a responsible fishing area where local communities, and specifically the artisanal fisherman, would be the direct beneficiaries.


8. Conclusions:
The Marine Protected Area of the Ostional NWR needs to be increased to 15 nautical miles, following the lines perpendicular to the coast, using the current 3 nautical miles as a reference. Furthermore, creating a buffer zone of 5 nautical miles to the north and south parallel to the straight line of the new marine protected area of 15 nm, using the 50 public meters as a land reference. This area must restrict in its entirety shrimp trawl fishing and the passage of these vessels, as well as allow legal responsible artisanal fishing and prohibit the development of marinas. Because of the interests of developers whose intentions are usually guided by economic before social and environmental principles (Annex 1 and 2), there is an urgent need to declare the marine zone from the northern limit of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge to the rocky area just before Lagarto beach called Cóncavas, a priority buffer zone that allows only artisanal fisherman and sustainable tourism fishing boats to use it. And, for its control and protection, all plans of building a Marina in the San Juanillo Bay must be permanently prohibited (Annex 1 and 2). A terrestrial boundary of the 50 public meters and up to the 15 nautical miles should be used for this zone. These increases should take into consideration the principle of prevention, which is one of the governing principles of Environmental Law and recognized by the Constitutional Court in ruling No 2003-6322 (Fernández 2006). The principle of prevention applies when there is scientific certainty. The Court has established its foundation as “the governing principle of prevention is based on the need to take and assume all precautionary measures to avoid or minimize possible affects to the environment or health of the people”. In addition to this, article 8 , clause e) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, commits their parties, among them Costa Rica, to “promote environmentally appropriate and sustainable development in zones adjacent to protected areas, with visions of increasing protection of these areas” (Fernández 2006). This document technically justified enlarging the marine protected area of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, by taking into consideration: 1. The responsibility of the government to protect the conservationist purpose for which the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge was created, and the rest of the Marine Protected Areas of the Tempisque Conservation Area; 2. After the Ostional NWR was last amplified by 3 nautical miles, new scientific studies have been done that confirm that this area is not enough to assure the protection of the second most important arribada olive ridley population in the world; 3. Information on leatherback turtle nesting, a critically endangered species that nests at Ostional, show that it is one of the most important nesting sites on the eastern Pacific coast of the American continent; 4. Satellite telemetry data on leatherback and olive ridley turtles show that habitat use by both species encompasses much more than the 3 nautical miles in front of the nesting beach; 5. That Costa Rica has acquired environmental and social commitments at a national and international level that justify enlarging this marine area; 18

6. That sea turtles nesting within the Ostional NWR and their marine ecosystem, including the species of artisanal fish and tourist attraction, are the main sources of income and survival for the communities of Ostional, Guiones, Peladas and San Juanillo and, therefore, assuring and increasing their protection will benefit these coastal communities; 7. The awareness of shrimp trawl fisheries in near shore and adjacent waters of the current Ostional NWR, and knowing the great social, environmental and economic problems this type of fishing causes at a local, national and global level, and the need to restrict its use in this area; 8. That the information presented above does not support the proposal of the draft Marine Management Plan of January, 2010, which reads underneath the title of Evaluation and Analysis of the limits of the Ostional NWR: “The area occupied by the refuge is large enough to comply with the conservation objectives for which it was created and, therefore, making new amplifications was not considered”. It is essential to create a Law or Regulation on Navigating within protected marine waters and the marine area of the buffer zone of Ostional NWR. Lastly, due to the current lack of Control and Protection of the Marine Protected Area by MINAET Ostional, it will be necessary that these actions be carried out through a Local Control and Protection Committee of the Ostional NWR, headed by the Ostional Development Association and MINAET Ostional, with support from INCOPESCA, Coast Guards and artisanal fishermen. This would enable patrols to be carried out within the MPA of the Refuge and its buffer zone in order to control the entering of shrimp boats, in addition to providing an opportunity to develop further research.


Arauz, R.; Isabel, N.; R. Rojas and R.Vargas. 1997. Evaluation of the super shooter and seymur. Turtle excluder devices with different deflector bar spacing in the shrimp fishery of Pacific Costa Rica. Epperly, S., and Braun, J. (Compilers). Proceedings of the XVII Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-415, pp114-116. Arroyo, S., A. Hutchinson y R. Arauz. 2008. Conservación e Investigación de Tortugas Marinas en el Pacífico de Costa Rica. Reporte Técnico PLANS: Temporada de Anidación 2007-2008. Programa de Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (PRETOMA). Crowder L.B., Hopkins-Murphy S.R. & Royle J.A. 1995. Effects of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on loggerhead sea turtles strandings with implications for conservation. Copeia 1995 (4): 773-779. Eguchi, T., Gerrodette, T., Pitman, R.L., Seminoff, J.A., and Dutton, P.H. 2007. At-sea density and abundance estimates of the olive ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea in the eastern tropical Pacific. Endangered Species Research 3:191–203. Fernández E.A., Fallas E., Chaves S. 2006. Análisis de la situación limítrofe del Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas de Guanacaste. CEDARENA. 55 pags. FAO. 2007, 04/26/2007. "Resumen informativo sobre la pesca por países, Republica de Costa Rica." Revisado el 04/04/2010 de FAO. 2008. El estado mundial de la pesca y la acuicultura. Departamento de Pesca y Acuicultura de la FAO. Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación, Roma 2009. 196 pags. Francia, G. 2008. Conservación Baulas del Pacífico-Playa Junquillal. Período de Informe: Julio a Diciembre del 2007. Actualizado al 31 de marzo del 2008. WWF-Central America. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 11 pags. Gass J. 2006. Bycatch mortality of leatherback turtles in Trinidad's Artisanal Gillnet Fishery. Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Durham, North Carolina, USA, Duke University. Master of Science: 31 pp. Gómez F., Quirós W. 2007. Reporte parcial del proyecto de investigación de las actividades pesqueras de la comunidad de San Juanillo. 35 pp. Sin publicar. Kousik, A., Kar C., Shanker, K. 2007. Study of the 2006-2007 olive ridley nesting season at Rushikulya, Orissa, India. Final Project Report submitted to Southeastern Louisiana University & Forest Department, Government of Orissa. Lewison, R,L., Sloan, A.F., & Crowder L. B. 2004. Quantifying the effects of fisheries on threaten species: the impact of pelagic longlines on loggerhead and leatherbacks sea turtles. Ecology Letters 7 221-231. Magnuson J.J., Bjorndal J.A., DuPaul W.D., Graham G.L., Owens D.W., Peterson C.H., Pritchard P.C.H., Richardson J.I., Saul G.E. & West C.W. 1990. Decline of sea turtles: causes and prevention. Washington, D.C., USA, National Research Council, National Academy Science Press 260 pp.


Orrego, C. 2005. CAUSAS ANTRÓPICAS Y NATURALES EN LA MORTALIDAD DE LAS TORTUGAS BAULA (Dermochelys coriacea), LORA (Lepidochelys olivacea) y VERDE (Chelonia mydas agassizi), EN LA COSTA PACÍFICA DE COSTA RICA. Programa Regional en Manejo y Conservación de Vida Silvestre para Mesoamérica y el Caribe. Universidad Nacional, Heredia- Costa Rica. Pandav, B., 2000a. Conservation and management of olive ridley sea turtles on the Orissa coast. Ph.D. Thesis, Utkal University, Bhubaneshwar India. Pandav B., Choudhury B.C. & Kar C.S. 1997. Mortality of Olive Ridley turtles Lepidochelys olivacea due to incidental capture in fishing nets along the Orissa coast, India. Oryx 31: 32–36. Plotkin, P.T., Byles, R.A., Rostal, D.C., and Owens, D.W. 1995. Independent versus socially facilitated oceanic migrations of the olive ridley, Lepidochelys olivacea. Marine Biology 122:137–143. Plotkin, P.T., Owens, D.W., Byles, R.A., and Patterson, R. 1996. Departure of male olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) from a near shore breeding ground. Herpetologica 52:1–7. Paladino, F.V., J. Spotila., P. Santidrián y G. Silvina. 2008. Monitoreo, conservación e investigación de la población de tortuga baula (Dermochelys coriacea) en el Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 11 pags. Quirós W. y Furler., S. 2008. Proyecto de conservación de la tortuga baula (Dermochelys coriacea) y negra (Chelonia mydas agassizii). Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional. Temporada 2007-2008. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Quirós W. y Cortés., M. 2010. Proyecto de conservación de la tortuga baula (Dermochelys coriacea) y negra (Chelonia mydas agassizii). Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional. Temporada 2009-2010. Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Sin publicar. Shillinger GL, Palacios DM, Bailey H, Bograd SJ, Swithenbank AM, Gaspar P, Wallace BP, Spotila JR, Paladino FV, Piedra R, Eckert SA, and BA Block. 2008. Persistent leatherback turtle migrations present opportunities for conservation. PLoS Biol 6(7): e171. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060171. Shillinger GL, Swithenbank AM, Bograd SJ, Bailey H, Castelton MR, Wallace BP, Spotila JR, Paladino FV, Piedra R, and BA Block. 2010. Identification of high-use internesting habitats for eastern Pacific leatherback turtles: Role of the environment and implications for conservation. Endangered Species Research (Preprint, doi: 10.3354/esr00251). Sridhar, A., Tripathy B. and Shanker, K. 2005. A review of legislation and conservation measures for sea turtles in Orissa, India. Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter 1: 1 – 7. SINAC-ACT-MINAET-UCR. 2010. Plan General de Manejo del Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional. Documento Borrador. Troeng S., Drews C. 2004. Hablemos de Plata: Aspectos económicos del uso y conservación de las tortugas marinas. WWF Internacional, Gland, Suiza. Valverde R. 2007. Global Assessment of Arribada Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Southeastern Louisiana University. Final Report for the USFWS. 12 pags.


Annex I Marina in San Juanillo, Cuajiniquil, Santa Cruz.
March 1st, 2008

San Juanillo is a community of about 70 houses and approximately 220 inhabitants. Its main activity is fishing and other activities such as construction, hotel services, and other seasonal work. There are two associations that work in the area; the San Juanillo Fishermen’s Association (ASOPESJU) and the San Juanillo Integral Development Association (ADISJ). They are currently creating the San Juanillo Women’s Association (AMSJ) with the help of World Vision, Costa Rica. The San Juanillo Fishermen’s Association (ASOPESJU) was legally created as an association in 1998. It’s Board of Directors has 8 members, 7 of them have voice and vote. At the beginning, ASOPESJU had 17 members and has now grown to 36; 13 women (wives of fishermen) and 23 men, in a total of 14 families. The fishermen of San Juanillo created the association 9 years ago for three reasons: 1. To improve sanitary conditions of the receiving plant for fishing products, 2. To obtain better market prices as an Association without the need for intermediaries and 3. Because a Canadian immigrant with beach front property wanted to close vehicle access to the beach, which would make it difficult to get ice to the receiving plant and transport fish. There are 14 small boats in San Juanillo that employ mainly gill nets and deep long line fishing gear. Snapper, conger eel and grouper are their main target species. A few of the boats work for lobster diving. Each member of the ASOPESJU pays 280 colones per kilogram of fish to the association to help cover administrative costs and group coordination. At the same time, the association organizes festivals, soccer matches and food sales to raise funds, of which 70% goes toward community programs. One of the latest projects that they are developing is a community recycling program. They now have a small collection center and 14 stands with 3 trash cans so that the trash can be separated. Trash was identified as a problem in the community and they have already seen an improvement. Similarly, over the years, the fisherman’s association has provided materials to the school and church, and equipment to the community’s athletic committee as well as helping those who have lost close family members. ASOPESJU also has a rotating fund that it uses for loans to its associates that are paid back at a very low interest rate, which is a very important program for a group of this nature. The association has developed good relationships with different organizations that have supported them in the past, among them:      PRODAPEN (Nicoya Peninsula Development Program); INA (National Learning Institute); INCOPESCA (Costa Rica’s Fishing and Aquaculture Institute) World Vision; ISV Costa Rica.


Among the threats expressed by the Fishermen is the shrimp trawl fishing due to the environmental impact it causes. Over the last few years fishing has decreased, as has occurred in many sites around the world, and among those most affected are the artisanal fishermen. For these reasons, last year an initiative was started for fishermen to provide artisanal fishing tours, so that one can get to know their fishing culture while at the same time it provides them with an economic alternative. Since the middle of 2007, there was a great amount of uncertainty in the community due to a proposal by a foreign fishing tour operator, who sought out some of the leaders in the town of San Juanillo to propose the development of a large scale Marina in the San Juanillo Bay (Fig. 1, 2 and 3). The project is located at the same site where the receiving plant of the artisanal fishermen is located and their boats are kept. The leader of the Project, Michael Edwin Paszkiewicz, has his own tour operation called Paskis Adventures and he works mainly with the Hotel El Santuario, located very close to the community of San Juanillo. The communication between this individual and local groups, mostly with the group of fishermen, has not been very clear due to language barriers and a lack of interest on the behalf of this person to communicate to the entire community about this potential project. In a personal meeting with Michael Paszkiewicz and one of his investors, he showed his interest in building the Marina and was happy that this project would benefit the town. He says he has worked together with the community of San Juanillo for many years, but members of the Fishermen’s Association say that this is not true and he does not work as closely with them as he claims. Michael has still not clearly explained the project, but has pressured to obtain support for it. Informally they talk of an investment of US$35,000,000 dollars for this development that includes a marina and practically a small city as seen in Figure 2. It is my opinion that this project would devastate this community described in previous paragraphs. Not only the social impact of this project is important, but also its environmental impact is of great concern. The San Juanillo Bay borders the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (Fig. 6), one of the few sites in the world where mass nesting behavior is observed where thousands of olive ridley turtles synchronize their nesting over the course of 3 to 7 days, almost 11 times a year. The passing of ships through a site with these types of characteristics will directly affect the turtles, which the community of Ostional depends on due to their eggs consumptive use that is allowed by the government of Costa Rica. In addition to their extractive use, they also carry out guided tours for sighting nesting females which is also an important source of income for some inhabitants. The community of San Juanillo is concerned about this matter and has requested support in the form of information and professional opinions so that they may better understand what a project like the Marina would offer their community.


Figure 1. Location of the community of San Juanillo. Cuajiniquil, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste.

Figura 2. Propuesta de proyecto de M

Figure 2. Design Concept 2 of the Marina presented to a San Juanillo community member by Mr. Michael Edwin Paszkiewicz.


Figure 3. 1. Area of impact by the project outlined in red. 2. Area where the community is located outlined in green. Main street to enter town and the bay in black. Pink dot denotes the intersection of the entrance to the town. Dirt road that comes from Santa Cruz and goes to Ostional and later connects with Nosara and Nicoya.

Figure 4. Fishermen getting gear ready to fish and San Juanillo Bay.


Figure 5. Current and future generations.

Figure 6. Marine Area of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and, in red, the area with highest nesting density of olive ridley Lepidochelys olivacea, leatherback Dermochelys coriacea and black turtles Chelonia mydas agassizii at Ostional beach.
The approximate distance between San Juanillo Bay and the main arribada nesting beach in Ostional is 4.5 Km.


Annex II San Juanillo Community opposition to a Marina.
Translation of letter send to the Secretariat of the Costa Rica Inter-institutional Commission for Marinas Development by the two grassroots Fisherman and Developmental Association of San Juanillo. May 26, 2008 Mr. Oscar Villalobos Charpentier; CIMAT Technical Secretary. Tourism Institute of Costa Rica. As a representative of CIMAT, we would like to express to you on behalf of the Development Association and the Fisherman’s Association of San Juanillo in Cuajiniquil, Guanacaste, our position against building a marina in the San Juanillo Bay. This proposal was presented to our community by two groups: the Estates investment company and Sedona Resorts and Paski’s Adventures Company. Despite not knowing the process this project could have within the commission that you lead, we consider it relevant to provide you with this information and the opinion of our community early on. Our firm position is described in the attached document which is signed by all members of the associations within our community, in addition to the majority of the adult population or associates, totaling more than 85 signatures. We consider that the proposal to build a marina in San Juanillo Bay is not environmentally, socially, culturally or institutionally sustainable. As a community we have worked at achieving sustainable development for many years and we want to continue with this line of work and we don’t see that is feasible with a marina. Over one year ago, and before receiving the proposal of this potential marina, we began discussing the possibility of building a dock that would be administered and lead by our community with INCOPESCA representatives in the Guanacaste area. We wish to analyze this initiative in more detail so that it fulfills our social, environmental, cultural and institutional objectives and, as an authority on the subject, we will be in contact with you to study the feasibility of this project. Best Regards, San Juanillo Development Association San Juanillo Fisherman’s Association


Signatures against that marina in the San Juanillo Bay, Cuajiniquil, Guanacaste, Costa Rica This letter serves to express, on behalf of the undersigned members of the Community of San Juanillo, Cuajiniquil, Guanacaste, our opposition to the plan to build a marina of approximately 200 slots for yachts and adjoining infrastructure in the fragile and closed San Juanillo Bay by the investment company The Estates, which also involves in this process the company Sedona Resorts. After learning more about the different aspects of building this marina in our community, we jointly believe that the negative effects of the proposals submitted and planned by those interested in developing this project are very great. This project puts our culture as an artisanal fishing community and the bay that we depend on daily for our nourishment and have for the last 30 years, at risk as well as the natural resources of our neighbor, the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Also, these types of development, over the medium and long term, will inevitably cause an increase in the cost of living for the local population, threaten the security and peace of our community and put the heritage we want to leave our future generations, at risk. For these reasons, we demand our right to a healthy and balanced environment as stated in article 50 of the Constitution. Our town is over 70 years old and we are aware that we live in a very beautiful place with unique characteristics that attract many interests, and we want to keep it that way, promoting sustainable development projects such as rural tourism lead by representatives within our own community and the organizations that represent us. The marina project is not congruent with our plans and the projects that we, as a community, have been planning and carrying out over the last several years. Therefore, we ask that those representatives of Costa Rican institutions, mainly the Municipality of Santa Cruz, MINAE, INCOPESCA, Defender of the Habitants, charitable and environmental organizations, other national and international communities, and national and international educational centers to support us in our declaration to not allow a Marina to be built in our bay. This project has been denied on behalf of our community and confirmed by the positions taken by our strongest local organizations, in addition to the local population that has signed this petition and we ask for your support before following-up on this process in order to avoid any vain efforts on this project by the interested investors. As the first to sign, we represent the board of directors of the two local associations in the community that are unanimously against this project; for the San Juanillo Development Association (ADISJ):








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