EcoGourmet was born in Colombia as an initiative to improve the living and working conditions of fishermen and their communities. All restaurants at the Clubhouse at Prieta Beach serve seafood supplied by the EcoGourmet value chain and will continue to curate seasonal menus to incorporate as much of their responsibly sourced and delicious fare as possible.
By Francesca Poddie | August 2, 2021 | Guanacaste

EcoGourmet is an alliance between local fishermen, restaurateurs and consumers that ensures the planet’s precious marine life is being sourced in a sustainable fashion, protecting not only the environment but also the way of life of many Costa Ricans.

High-quality seafood at a reasonable price…but what else makes EcoGourmet a worthwhile initiative?

Conservation International at Peninsula Papagayo: collaboration and awareness

Conservation International (CI) launched EcoGourmet as a pilot plan in Costa Rica, right here at Peninsula Papagayo, during a meeting of CI´s Board of Directors, when diners savored sea bass provided by Chira Island.

Chef Neptalí and the team were impressed by the quality, texture and freshness of the product and supported the project, working with San Juanillo mariners as well. These days, the restaurants at the Clubhouse at Prieta Beach serve seasonal seafood of unrivaled quality supplied by the EcoGourmet value chain.

When we spoke to José Quirós, biologist and marine program manager at Conservation International Costa Rica, the word traceability came up often. EcoGourmet´s main goal is building a sustainable value chain that is equitable and fair for all those who participate. The product needs to be traced every step of the way, from the moment it emerges from the ocean to when it reaches the consumer’s plate. Reducing the number of intermediaries along the way is key to achieving economic justice.

Education and communication across the board are game changers

One of the greatest challenges EcoGourmet faces is keeping the program at a manageable scale. The message to fishermen is to fish less, do it right and earn more. Communities where the program has been successful have learned sustainable fishing techniques, including being selective regarding species and their sizes, proper handling, and storage throughout the distribution chain. In turn, they receive better pay for their catch, thus rewarding their commitment to responsible practices.

Training and awareness go beyond the fishermen and their communities, extending to the restaurants and hoteliers where the seafood will be served. Food and beverage personnel, specially waitstaff, are given communication packages regarding seasonality of species, appropriate fishing sizes and fishery closures, which allow species to reproduce.

Why does it matter?

The UN is set to hold its summit on food systems in September of this year — its main objective is to ensure food security worldwide.

Studies have shown that 63% of people in poor living conditions are farmers and fishermen. Sadly, those who feed us are more vulnerable to poverty and hunger.

2020 was a difficult year for fishermen around the world, and especially in Costa Rica. This was due to the pandemic, and to environmental and climate changes as well. The La Niña phenomenon causes fish to swim further out to sea, taking them longer to return. During this time, Peninsula Papagayo continued its support of EcoGourmet, even subsidizing groceries and other supplies for the affected families.


Regeneration culture

Culinary experiences need not be thwarted by issues of sustainability, and good fresh ingredients make all the difference in the flavors of a dish. Experiencing seafood you have never tried — the catch of the day, if you will — is a good way of supporting regeneration culture. Instead of snapper or sea bass, why not try a snook or a roncador for a change?

Your choices have power and generate impact on the environment. Always ask questions, know where your seafood came from, how and where it was raised or caught. When consumers begin demanding these answers, the market will start to change.”

With our support, regeneration can become the predominant direction of the future evolution of this planet.

Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac, The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis