Strengthening no-take zones to protect sharks in Costa Rica
Randall Arauz has many years of experience working on environmental conservation in Costa Rica. In 1997, he founded the grass-roots Sea Turtle Restoration Program Association, better known by its Spanish acronym PRETOMA.
Decades of overfishing and ineffective conservation policies have decimated shark populations in the eastern tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean. To slow this decline, Costa Rica in 1978 established the Cocos Island National Park, one of the world’s oldest no-take reserves, where no fishing is allowed. It is also a top destination for divers to observe sharks. Although the park’s waters are widely recognized for their abundant shark populations, the enforcement of the no-take policy is not adequate, and illegal fishing continues both inside and outside its borders. In 2011, Costa Rica established the Seamounts Marine Management Area, which surrounds the Cocos Island park, to address these issues with expanded marine protections.
In his Pew marine fellowship, Arauz is working on policies and interventions to better enforce these no-take areas, including the possible use of unmanned aerial vehicles to track anyone fishing illegally. His efforts also will help ensure that Costa Rica’s shark conservation policies are based on the best available science and that the public continues to be educated about the importance of rebuilding shark populations.
To learn more about Arauz, read his bio online.