Cocos Island is one of the most special places to dive on this planet: Schooling hammerhead sharks and manta rays are just two of the sights you can expect during a visit. But a plan to expand protection for the marine protected area around Cocos has failed—nearly two years after being promised by the government of Costa Rica.
Protection for this unique marine environment seemed assured when former Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís made an international announcement promising to expand the protected area around Cocos by 4,000 square miles. In a region beleaguered with shark finning and illegal fishing, the step would be critical to ensuring Cocos’ future.
However, Solis left office last May without completing his promise. He was facing pressure from local fishermen who feared for their livelihood in the event of an MPA expansion.
While Costa Rica has excelled at protecting natural resources on land, only one percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone is protected. Meeting with officials at the National Geographic Society office in Washington, Costa Rica’s newly elected President Carlos Alvarez promised to add five MPAs, according to Nat Geo. Take that promise with a grain of salt.
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