Tuesday, March 3, 2009

COSTA RICAN TUNA FARMS - Pose Threat to Sea Turtles

Randall Arauz - Pretoma

(March 2, 2009 San José, Costa Rica) – On February 16 the National Technical Environmental Secretary (SETENA) rejected an appeal for annulment presented by Pretoma on November 11, 2008, deciding instead to move forward in the approval process of the Tuna Farm Project in Golfito, according to resolution N° 3170-2008-SETENA, November 5, 2008. SETENA’s decision to approve the project comes without completing the Constitutional Court’s order to clear up inconsistencies found within the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) undertaken by the project’s Developer Granjas Atuneras Golfito S.A. and now places the decision to ratify the project with Mr. Roberto Dobles, the Environmental, Energy, and Telecomunications Minister (MINAET).

In July, 2006 Pretoma and the Punta Banco Association of Neighbors filed suit against the project, sighting the serious environmental impacts it might cause. What is still unknown is whether or not the large amounts of metabolic waste, produced by the tuna and dispersed by the currents, will be swept into the Golfo Dulce. These uncertainties, along with questions about the possible effects the project will have on sea turtles that nest along beaches close to the proposed project’s site, represent some of the study’s weaknesses of which the Constitutional Court has asked for clarification in the form of technical studies.

“It’s incoherent how SETENA chooses not to address the Constitutional Court’s doubts, while at the same time recognizing the project’s viability without even researching certain technical criteria that might show how the tuna cages will impact the Golfo Dulce”, mentioned Miguel Gómez, Pretoma’s political campaigns coordinator.

“We hope that the Minister is consistent with other court decisions in this case and asks SETENA to comply with the Constitutional Court’s mandate”, said Andy Bystrom, Pretoma’s communications coordinator.

The project proposes to install 10 tuna cages at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. It was suspended by court order on May 9, 2007 due to a series of inconsistencies referring to contamination threats to the surrounding ecosystem and its impact on sea turtles.

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