Costa Rica recently put together a massive new marine park that increases the area of protected waters surrounding Cocos Island five times what it was before. The Cocos Island area is home to some of the highest abundances of sharks and other large ocean predators recorded anywhere. The new marine protected area (MPA), dubbed the the Seamounts Marine Management Area, includes a grouping of deep seamounts located 35 miles south of Cocos as well as other important waters for shark and tuna nearby.
A recent expedition by National Geographic and other local NGO partners in 2009 showed the Cocos Island National Park has some of the highest abundances of large ocean predators found anywhere in the world. The expedition team also concluded that illegal fishing inside the park and fishing pressure outside the park are threatening the biodiversity of this World Heritage Site.
A 25,000 square-kilometer reserve was recommended by the expedition but the government of Costa Rica instead created a 9,640-square-kilometer MPA that excludes purse seining for tuna, but will allow long-lining for tuna in some of its waters. Overall it is a good start and a move in the right direction and it would be encouraging to see the banning of long-line fishing in the MPA in the future.
[via National Geographic]