Schools of hammerhead sharks, Silky, Galapagos and Tiger sharks, and gentle sea turtles abound in the waters surrounding Cocos Island National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cocos Island sits approximately 350 miles from the Costa Rican mainland and is surrounded by a 12-mile no-take Marine Protected Area.

Yet despite the protected status of the Island, industrial longline fishing vessels linger along the 12-mile limit. Rangers have noted that the vessels invade the MPA to target sharks and tunas.

Cocos Island is an area of focus for improving the process of monitoring fishing in and outside of the marine protected area in order to better enforce the protections.

In order to bolster existing resources to identify illegal fishing within the marine protected area, Turtle Island is working in partnership with PRETOMA, our sister NGO in Costa Rica, and technology firm Precision Integrated to develop pilot solutions to stop illegal fishing at Cocos Island National Marine Park, Costa Rica. A team of monitoring professionals from Precision Integrated is planning to donate their time to design a surveillance strategy for the Marine Protected Area to identifying illegal fishing.

The partnership plans to test unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which will record information about the illegal fishing. We will then involve Costa Rican authorities to begin legal proceedings against identified outlaw longliners.

This innovative program will help preserve the Island’s treasure – the incredibly complex web of marine life that survives in this island reserve.

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