Friday June 24, 2022


Every morning, just after dawn, small-scale fishers Ettel Lattouche and Rafael Hernández head to the beach with their fishing gear to eke out a living. Together, the couple venture deep into the ocean off Punta Uva, a small town on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, and hope to return with some catch.

“Fishing is a lifestyle, a way of life,” said Hernández, a father of two.

Yet the couple operates in the shadow of the law. In 2005, the Costa Rican government introduced fishing regulations that ordered the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) to stop issuing small-scale fishing licenses until a technical study had been carried out to prove that the country’s fisheries were being harvested sustainably.

This order was in response to commercial fishing in the Pacific, where industrial-scale vessels, including bottom trawlers, were widespread. By contrast, fishing in the southern Caribbean is largely artisanal and fishers use wooden traps, fishing rods and free diving.

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