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Alejandra Vargas M.
Periódico La Nación, Aldea Global, Pág. 19A
Miércoles 5 Noviembre, 2008

70 countries plead to maintain limits of Baulas Park

Representatives of 70 countries signed a letter that was presented on Monday to the Environmental Commission of the Congress, in which they plead so that the present limits of the Baulas (Leather Back Turtle) Marine Park are kept just the same, in the Matapalo, Guanacaste area.

Randall Arauz, president of the Program of Restoration of the Marine Turtle (Pretoma), declared this to La Nation

According to Arauz, the letter at issue was given to Congresswoman Mauren Ballestero, and asks that two new law projects - N 16.915 and N. 16.916. - presented by Congressman Jorge Eduardo Sanchez (of the PUSC) are rejected.

Both projects try to modify the law that created this national park in 1991 and its limits.  They are being evaluated at the moment in a sub-commission of the Congress.  “ If they are approved, these laws would eliminate the strict protection of Baulas beach, allowing developments that would threaten this earth strip that serves as shield for the most important nesting beach of the leather back turtle of the Eastern Pacific”, added Arauz.

On the other hand, Congressman Sanchez defended himself by saying: “It will not be foreigners the ones that are going to tell us how to take care of the leather back turtles.  They do not have any moral authority to do that after they destroyed their own countries.  Actually, some of them are making profit out of Tico Nature.  There are students that are charged from $2.000 to $3.000 to come here to study the leather back turtles, and Costa Rica does not see a single cent out of that money”, he denounced.

“This country does not have $700 million to expropriate the land that is requested so this park stays as it is originally planned.  We have to look for alternatives to coexist with the nature without destroying it! It has been demonstrated that this can be done and there are experts in places like Boca Raton, in Miami, that verify it”, explains Sanchez.

“There is time until November for the project to be approved by the commission.  If not, they will have to wait until May next year”, finished the Congressman.

The Leather Back Turtle (Coriaciea Dermochelis) is the only marine turtle with “leather back” and it is the largest: it weighs about 500 kilograms and it measures up to 1.75 meters.  In the last two decades its world-wide population was reduced in 97% and it is estimated that there are only 1,700 females in reproductive age left in the world. That is why it is so important to preserve these nesting sites.

Miguel Gomez, biologist and coordinator of the campaigns of the Pretoma Network, assures that the great amount of people supporting this initiative represents a very clear message for the Costa Rican authorities.  This support was obtained by Costa Ricans who participated last October in of the World Nature Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

“The global conservationist community is closely observing the actions that Costa Rica takes to protect the leather backs, and hopes that the nation acts according to the international reputation that it has created”, emphasized Gomez.

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