The new protected marine area at Cabo Blanco, with an extension of more than 800 square kilometres in the Gulf of Nicoya, expands from 12.7 percent to 15.7 percent the share of the country’s seas under conservation.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, Costa Rica unveiled a new marine protected area on the country’s Pacific coast, contributing to the global goal of protecting at least 10 percent of marine zones before the year 2020.
The new protected marine area at Cabo Blanco, with a length of more than 800 square kilometers in the Gulf of Nicoya, increases from 12.7 percent to 15.7 percent the percentage of the country’s seas under conservation.
The Cabo Blanco marine area is home to 37 high-value marine species, three turtle-hatching sites, and three sizes of importance for dolphins, whales, and other aquatic mammals.
“As a nation between two shores, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Costa Rica is conscious of the immeasurable benefits that these bring to life on earth. With this in mind, we are striving to become a plastic-free zone and expand marine protected areas, along with models of local governance to manage fisheries and tourism sustainably,” said Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica aims to fight plastic marine debris after meeting the global UN Clean Seas campaign earlier this year. Around 20 percent of the four tonnes of waste that the country produces daily ends up in rivers and coastal zones.
The Clean Seas campaign is seeking to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics, and the excessive, wasteful use of single-use plastic, by the year 2022.
Costa Rica is working to replace single-use plastics – which can take hundreds of years to degrade – with renewable materials that can decompose in the ocean in no more than six months. The country also launched a National Wetlands Policy (2017-2030) and recently outlined a long-term National Sanitation Policy to prevent further water pollution.
Alongside UN Environment, Costa Rica hosted a Global Dialogue on Oceans from June 8-9 in Puntarenas on the country’s Pacific coast. High-level decision-makers and stakeholders from around the globe planned definitive actions to improve the health of the oceans at the meeting.
Healthy oceans – which absorb roughly 25 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions – are critical to fighting climate change and are essential for life and livelihoods at many levels. They provide wide-ranging social and economic benefits and are crucial in reducing poverty for millions of people. Thriving oceans can ensure food and energy security, and are closely interlinked with peace and prosperity, said the UNEP.
Oceans face unprecedented challenges due to increasing human activities and impacts. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in seas and rivers, causing 8 billion dollars in damages every year. By 2050, oceans will have more plastics than fish at this pace, and approximately 99 percent of marine birds will swallow plastic, concluded the UNEP report.