By Freddy Pacheco León
Very sure of representing the selfish interests of the owners of the monopoly of the canned tuna trade and of those who, since the inoperative Incopesca, seem to strive for such a gift to be strengthened and maintained over time, they simply turned their back on the Costa Rican people and they delivered the national tuna wealth on a gold platter.
As if the irrational overfishing of fisheries were not known worldwide, Costa Ricans who negotiated our natural resources within the framework of the FTA as if they were their property, worried about reaffirming the surrender practice of giving a powerful foreign fleet the permits to fishing for tuna in our sea. Very sure of representing the selfish interests of the owners of the monopoly of the canned tuna trade and of those who, since the inoperative Incopesca, seem to strive for such a gift to be strengthened and maintained over time, they simply turned their back on the Costa Rican people and they delivered the national tuna wealth on a gold platter.
In accordance with the legislative decision not to touch on this issue during the approval process of the "new" (without being it!) Fisheries Law, the FTA establishes that "Foreign-flagged vessels may pay a lower fee and benefit to have their fishing permit automatically extended if they supply their catch to national companies. " Thus, it was practically transcribed in the Treaty, the article whereby ignoble hands dirtied the visionary Ferrero Law, reflecting the level of influence that the so-called "Costa Rican tuna industry" had on the decisions of the "negotiators." Regulations that, on the one hand, allow indiscriminate and uncontrolled overfishing of skipjack and yellowfin tuna from the Pacific Ocean, while allowing transnational tuna companies to fish, commercialize and industrialize, practically free, the most important marine natural wealth of Costa Rica.
Likewise, thanks to the fact that the "rights and obligations" of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) are deepened in the FTA, establishing the concepts of "most favored nation" and "National treatment", depending on the interests present in the commercial "casino", little by little and without moving the waters, like stealthy sharks, American tuna transnationals and from the other side of the Atlantic, have been settling in the isthmus. In El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, they announce that the Spanish tuna groups, Calvo and Albacora are interested in the construction of canning plants in their territories and in the flagging of fishing vessels. In "El Nuevo Diario" (Nicaragua) of November 7, 2005, it is reported that "Five tuna vessels under the Nicaraguan flag, but with foreign capital, have been fishing for tuna for a few months in international waters ... But the main benefit of tuna is in the installation of a processing plant, something in which a Spanish investor was already interested. " And he adds: "In the region there is Spanish investment in Guatemala and El Salvador in tuna processing. In El Salvador, the Spanish group Calvo is about to inaugurate a processing plant." Although in the Washington Post of August 16, 2005, journalist Krissah Williams writes that it will not be easy for Central American tuna companies to enter the US market given that in NAFTA, tariffs on canned tuna persist for the next 10 years, plus recently, the Salvadoran "La Prensa Gráfica" (November 19, 2005) pointed out that "The Spanish tuna group Calvo does not want to leave loose ends to guarantee a place in the North American market after the validity of the trade agreement." And what is more, says the same information that the director of operations of the multinational stated that "Our target market is the largest in the world: the United States ... because with CAFTA the company can send tuna in oil free of tariffs and in 10 years don't pay for tuna in water. "
Costa Rican tuna
Now it is worth asking: Where will those thousands of tons of tuna fish that they plan to export? If one of the richest tuna regions of the Latin American Pacific is located in the "thermal dome of Costa Rica", whose main presence is included in the 540,000 km2 of our exclusive economic zone, we could not infer that it is precisely there where the ships will go tuna vessels. In addition, if the promoters of the tuna delivery have managed to include in the FTA the "benefit" of free fishing licenses and if, as confirmed, Incopesca (since its inception under the command of Mr. Luis Paris Chavarri) has defended as good, that unusual neocolonial practice, what will be the future of the Costa Rican tuna populations?
As long as our country continues to leave in the hands of the director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the responsibility of determining how much tuna is caught in Costa Rica and, likewise, continues to innocently trust the "confidential" fishing reports of foreign fishermen (of which Incopesca does not even receive copies), we will never be able to know exactly how much tuna is caught and, even more dangerous, we will never have the catch data that allows us to assess the dangers of overfishing. For the inhabitants of the Samoa islands, dependent on fishing and processing tuna, the FTA of their government with the isthmus represents a real threat to the tuna populations of the Pacific as they foresee how, given the good international prices of the resource, the fleet flagged in Central America will do everything possible to obtain the greatest economic benefits from the trade agreement, in the shortest term. If today it is estimated that Costa Rica contributes at least $ 100 million dollars a year in tuna (caught entirely by the foreign fleet!) The figure could increase to unimaginable levels. Threat of overfishing.
According to the Greenpeace organization, yellowfin tuna is under immediate threat of overexploitation, which is why they urge that fishing for this species should not be increased. However, although it is specified that the fishing industry should investigate new, more selective and less destructive fishing techniques, it is also recognized that such recommendations are being ignored, both by the fishing nations and by the owners of the resource, such as Costa Rica.
Similar attitudes allowed the slaughter of six million Latin American Pacific dolphins in just 15 years, on the part of unscrupulous tuna fishermen. Only in Costa Rica 60,000 dolphins were killed a year ... Now the danger rests on the survival of the species of yellowfin and skipjack tuna, and it seems that the government authorities have not found out about this.
Tied up by NAFTA
In summary, if the FTA is approved, the Costa Rican rulers would not be able, even if they wanted to, correct the Fisheries Law regarding the irrationality of giving away the valuable tuna to the foreign fleet.
Such practice, being included as part of the negotiated, could not be modified, unless we expose ourselves, as a State, to the demands inherent in a commercial treaty such as the one that threatens us.
Likewise, by finding in other countries of the isthmus the possibilities of catching tuna as Central Americans, the transnationals have found a way to exploit, as if it were their own, the bypassed Costa Rican tuna, which would inevitably lead to a situation of overexploitation.
* F reddy Pacheco, Ph.D.
Heredia. Costa Rica