Privatization of Costa Rica`s Natural Heritage Hinders Ecotourism Initiative in Favor of Artisanal Fishermen

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     A project aimed at promoting income diversification for an organization of artisanal fishermen in El Jobo de La Cruz, province of Guanacaste, remains blocked because a part of the area that is a State Natural Heritage now appears in the hands of foreign private owners. .

    In that community, the Association of Artisanal Fishermen of Jobo La Cruz Pacífico Norte (ASOPAR) promotes an ecotourism project to diversify income, especially during the natural closed season due to the north winds, since this makes the work of artisanal fishing more difficult. occasional.

    The plan consists of offering trips for national and foreign visitors, especially from several hotels surrounding the community, so that they can learn first-hand the culture of artisanal salt production and go bird watching;  In addition, getting to know the diversity of the flora and fauna of a mangrove during daytime and nighttime sessions.

    According to Rodrigo Rojas, President of ASOPAR, to carry out the venture, a group of fellow associates received proper training, especially in English and conversational bird watching, to serve potential clients who visited and will generate the plan called Project Ecotourism Salinera La Coyotera” located on the beach of the same name in the Punta Descartes sector in La Cruz.

    A venture developed in a sustainable way

    “This plan took a long time to plan and coordinate permits in public institutions such as the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Vice Ministry of Water and Seas, the Municipality of La Cruz and others so that everything was done in an orderly manner with the aim of so that people would have an alternative source of income when they cannot fish due to the issue of the north winds, an already approved Management Plan was even designed so that the venture could be developed in a sustainable way,” said Rojas.

    Big surprise

    The possible tours that will take place in La Coyotera include an area of ​​11 hectares, where it is located called La Isla – on the mainland – which is within a State Natural Heritage area.

    “To our surprise, when we were managing the project, we realized that La Isla had already had a plan and deed in the hands of an individual, a fact that is inconceivable if it is a public asset owned by the Costa Rican State, which is inalienable. and outside of any commercial transaction,” lamented Rojas.

    The President of ASOPAR added that due to this new legal status of the area of ​​the Island – located right in the center of the old salt mine – the ecotourism project plan loses attractiveness and; In addition, it is impossible to make trips to the site because it is now a private property surrounded by mangroves.

    An unforeseen change

     “Now the plan that we plan to carry out and whichfact, because has a low environmental impact is blocked due to this unforeseen change that no one can explain, a very regrettable fact because it threatens the improvement of the quality of life of a good group of families in the area,” said Rojas.

    According to the Guanacaste Conservation Area, the canton of La Cruz, where small-scale artisanal fishing represents one of the most important sources of employment, also has great potential in rural tourism activities, eventual visits to Bolaños Island or Las Playitas. Chiquitas de El Jobo with its various food services, visits to the old salt mine, the collection center, oyster cultivation and tours to the Bahía Junquillal Nat ural Wildlife Refuge.

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