Costa Rica Boosts Plan to Track Vessels, Combat Illegal Fishing

InSight Crime

By providing satellite data on its fleets, Costa Rica is the latest country in Latin America to take on illegal fishing, which costs billions of dollars and taxes already over-exploited waters.

In July, the Costa Rican Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) signed an agreement to make its vessel tracking data publicly available through Global Fishing Watch (GFW), a partnership between international conservation group Oceana, satellite technology company SkyTruth, and Google. The process — completed in August — makes Costa Rica fourth Latin American country to openly share vessel monitoring data with the organization, which tracks vessels on a publicly accessible map. Panama, Chile and Peru began sharing information with GFW in 2019. Indonesia was the first nation to do so.

The information, published with a 72-hour delay, aims to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Data is collected from the government’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and through the Automatic Identification System (AIS), a mandatory navigational system for large boats that relays their locations to nearby vessels and coastal authorities.

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