Communities leading sustainable Fisheries Management

Olman Viquez, Coope SoliDar
Published: 26 August 2015
Last edited: 30 September 2020
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Costa Rica’s coastal population is culturally and economically closely tied to the seashore and strongly dependent on artisanal fisheries. However, blocked access to marine resources, degraded and polluted habitats and declining fish stocks threaten livelihoods and increase local poverty. The artisanal fishermen’s cooperative CoopeTárcoles R.L, encouraged the community to use local marine resources sustainably, thus guaranteeing their economic future and cultural way of life. They led a dialogue with the semi-industrial fleet to reach agreements on the use of the marine territory. They have promoted a collaborative governance model for the management of the country´s marine territory where fishers and government work together towards responsible fishing and improvement of the quality of life of the communities.


Central America
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Fisheries and aquaculture
Local actors
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Other theme
Marine collaborative governance models
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Infrastructure development
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Lack of food security
Sustainable development goals
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Tárcoles, Garabito, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica | Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica


Restricted access to marine resources, declining fish stocks and increasing poverty. Rural communities in Costa Rica such as Tárcoles are strongly dependent on artisanal fisheries for their livelihood. Rapidly growing real estate development and even some marine conservation initiatives that do not include a human rights based approach, limit the access to coastal and marine resources. Local fishermen witness declining fish stocks due to pollution, illegal fishing and overfishing. Degraded habitats reduce important food and revenue sources, thus increasing local poverty.


local communities, artisanal fisherfolk, semi-industrial fishery and tourism

How do the building blocks interact?

The establishment of the marine managed area (MMA) and its legal recognition by the government and all actors involed are crucial first steps in the process. Participatory Governance ensures that all stakeholders are involved in setting the rules and also enforcing them. This also builds trust and improves long-term relations between different actors. The Fishery database enables data driven management actions and ensures that fishermen are an integrative part of the process. The adoption of responsible fishing practices leads to a more sustainable exploitation of marine resources and helps population recovery of overfished stocks. Ecotourism provides and alternative income to fishermen, and can alleviate fishing pressure in the MMA, although it is crucial to have rules in place to make sure that tourism activities remain sustainable, both for the local communities and their livelihoods, and for the marine ecosystem.


• Recognition of Marine Area for Responsible Fishing • Local Responsible Fishing Code and participatory mapping and governance model that considers scientific and traditional knowledge • Fishermen from Tárcoles and neighboring communities actively participate in the zoning process. • Environmental management plan for better fish processing practices and clean local beach shores • Database developed to monitor all exploited species in the Tárcoles area• Institutionalized sustainable fishing protects economic future of the community • Cooperative benefits workers in related occupations - often women and youth • Collective action provides an equitable and just distribution of benefits. • Development of a local enterprise that promotes guided visits to learn about local fishing practices • Expanding ecotourism provides alternative income sources. • Proposal for the recognition of a community governance model to ensure the collaborative management of MPAs by communities and government. • Establishment of a community-based Marine Area of Responsible Artisanal Fishing of Tárcoles (MARAFT) • Uniting artisanal fishers for political purposes through visits to the localities in Tárcoles. • Tárcoles has been a flagship project in the creation of a National Network of Marine Responsible Fishing Areas.

Contributed by

vivienne.solis.rivera_36459's picture

Vivienne Solis-Rivera

Other contributors

David Chacón
COOPE Tárcoles R.L.