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Environment and Security Ministries sign accord to protect Costa Rica's marine resources
By Clayton R. Norman, Tico Times, 7th November 2011

http://www.ticotimes.net/Current-Edition/News-Briefs/Environment-and-Security-Ministries-sign-accord-to-protect-Costa-Rica-s-marine-resources_Monday-November-07-2011

The heads of Costa Rica’s Public Security and Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministries (MSP and MINAET, respectively) signed an accord Monday establishing an alliance between the two organizations to work together to protect Costa Rica’s marine resources.

The agreement is part of the development of the System of Marine Vigilance and Control, which will also include an electronic network of monitoring equipment to keep a close eye on Costa Rica’s maritime territories. The network, as it is proposed, would include 13 stations outfitted with different types of radar, optical equipment and other forms of electronic surveillance.

“The plan will allow us, on one hand, to improve security for tourists and for fishermen,” said René Castro, head of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry. “To identify at all times where they are and to facilitate help if they need it, and, on the other hand, to know quickly if there are unauthorized people in an area or they are fishing illegally or preying on natural resources or if they are engaged in activities of organized crime.”

Marco Quesada, marine coordinator at Conservation International, a non-government organization that helped develop the plan said the agreement between MSP and MINAET is the first part of the process of developing a unified system to protect marine resources. The plan will start to go into effect by the beginning of next year, Quesada said, but the exact costs of the system have not been fully determined.

Viewing environmental protection and combating organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, as two parts of the same problem is a major step forward, Castro said.

“This allows us to demonstrate to our neighboring countries that an agreement can be effective in which the fight against organized crime and the protection of natural resources are brought together – it’s not a common perspective,” Castro said.