AIDA statement on the death of thousands of fish in Costa Rica


Anchovy. | Credit: CSA-UPCH.

February 22, 2017

The recent mass die-off of anchovy—a species on which birds, marine mammals, and other fish depend for nutrition—must be analyzed in detail. Upon finding the cause, an integrated solution must be implemented at the national and regional levels.

San José, Costa Rica. On February 15, thousands of anchovy washed onto the beaches of Puntarenas, two kilometers from the gulf of Nicoya. Experts from the National University of Costa Rica have ruled out algae-producing toxins and a red ride—which occurs from excessive proliferation of microalgae—as possible causes. At this point, authorities do not know why the fish died.

The anchovy is a species that contributes greatly to the balance of the marine environment. Many species of birds and marine mammals, as well as other fish, depend on the anchovy as a vital source of nutritients and protein.

Responding to the incident, Gladys Martínez, attorney with AIDA’s Marine Biodiversity and Coastal Protection Program, said:

“It is vital that we analyze in detail the factors that may have caused this mass anchovy die-off. We have to determine what is affecting them and prevent a similar situation from happening again. Once the cause is found, a solution must be implemented that takes into account all components of the marine environment.

“In addition, it is important that Costa Rica work both nationally and regionally on a comprehensive solution. Anchovy is a common species in the region and, although not highly migratory, it does move over short distances, warranting the involvement of surrounding nations as well.”

Press contact:

Gladys Martínez, AIDA,, +506 8321 4263