Month: October 2018

Costa Rica Fishing Illegal

10 Steps to Reduce Illegal Fishing Globally

Ten Principles for Global Transparency in the Fishing Industry

Out of the Shadows: Improving Transparency in Global Fisheriesfrom Environmental Justice Foundation

By MarEx 2018-10-27 18:36:02

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has published its 10 principles for global transparency in the fishing industry in a new report.

EJF’s report and film asserts that the global fishing industry suffers from a shocking lack of transparency, allowing illegal operators to create as much confusion as possible around their identities; escaping detection by changing vessel names; concealing ownership; flying different flags to avoid detection; or removing ships from registers entirely.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Vessel identification systems – which allow the boats to be tracked – are tampered with, switched off or missing altogether; front companies are set up so that the true beneficiaries of illegal practices can evade prosecution.

These activities allow illegal fishing to thrive, says the EJF. It is estimated that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing costs the global economy between $10 – 23.5 billion every year and is a critical factor undermining efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries.

tuna for ticos

Vulnerable coastal communities that rely on healthy fish stocks for food security and income suffer as a consequence. In West Africa, a region with some of the highest levels of illegal fishing, 6.7 million people depend directly on fisheries for food and livelihoods.

Illegal fishing creates a vicious cycle of degradation and decline, says the EJF. As ocean ecosystems are degraded and fish stocks fall, so does income from the vessels. To scrape a profit, unscrupulous companies exploit workers, often engaging in violent human rights abuses and employing forced, bonded and slave labor. EJF has documented shocking abuse aboard fishing vessels across the world – from slavery to murder – all facilitated by the lack of transparency.

EJF’s Executive Director Steve Trent says: “The time has come to make the fishing industry open and transparent and to move from words to action. This does not require new, sophisticated technologies, or unrealistic expense. Give vessels unique numbers – like a car number plate – publish license lists and make tracking data public: these measures, along with the few others on our list, are politically realistic, logistically and technologically deliverable right now and, crucially, economically viable. They are within the reach of all countries, today.”

EJF’s 10 principles for global transparency in the fishing industry state that all countries should:

1.     Give all vessels a unique number.
These would stay with vessels from shipyard to scrapyard, regardless of name or flag changes, and should be kept in a global record of fishing vessels.

2.     Make vessel tracking data public.
This will mean neighboring countries, non-governmental organizations and others can all help with surveillance.

3.     Publish lists of fishing licenses and authorizations.
Who’s allowed to fish where? Combined with vessel tracking data this means anyone can monitor and raise the alarm about illegal fishing.

4.     Publish punishments handed out for fisheries crimes
The arrests and sanctions imposed for illegal fishing or human rights abuse on fishing vessels should be public, so offenders can be identified.

5.     Ban transferring fish between boats at sea – unless pre-authorized and carefully monitored.
This practice enables unscrupulous companies to keep workers at sea, unpaid, for months or even years. It also makes the source of the fish, once landed, very difficult to trace.

6.     Set up a digital database of vessel information.
Storing information on fishing vessel registration, licenses, catch and crew is vital, and could eventually enable catches to be certified as fished legally and ethically.

7.     Stop the use of “flags of convenience” for fishing vessels.
Some countries don’t properly monitor their flagged fleet, which allows the owners of illegally fishing vessels to remain unaccountable.

8.     Publish details of the true owners of each vessel – who takes home the profit?
False front companies are often used so that the true beneficiaries of illegal fishing are safe from prosecution.

9.     Punish anyone involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Countries must ensure that none of their citizens support, engage in or profit from illegal fishing, no matter where they are, or which flag they are flying.

10.  Adopt international measures that set clear standards for fishing vessels and the trade in fisheries products.
These include the Port State Measures Agreement, the Work in Fishing Convention and the Cape Town

By MarEx .

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Yellowfin Tuna

Costa Rica Fish Species

Meet the Yellowfin

 

One of FECOP’s primary initiatives is to reduce “bycatch” resulting (most often times) from illegal, non-sustainable, tuna fishing operations in Costa Rica’s Pacific ocean. The aftermath of this illegal activity includes the  death of non-targeted species such as sailfish, marlin (billfish), dolphins, sea-turtles, and the destruction fragile marine ecosystems. Learn more about our current initiatives Tuna for Ticos, and The Costa Rica Tuna Decree

From the IGFA Fish Database
Occurs worldwide in deep, warm temperate oceanic waters. It is both pelagic and seasonally migratory, but has been known to come fairly close to shore.

Tuna Fast Facts

Did you know – The yellowfin can be distinguished from the blackfin by the black margins on its finlets?

Tuna are considered warm blooded because they can regulate their own body temperature . The very few partly or fully warm-blooded fish possess organs near their muscles called retia mirabilia that consist of a series of minute parallel veins and arteries that supply and drain the muscles.

IGFA FISH DATABASEMost large yellowfins have overextended second dorsal and anal fins that may reach more than halfway back to the tail base in some large specimens. In smaller specimens under about 60 lb (27 kg) and in some very large specimens as well, this may not be an accurate distinguishing factor since the fins do not appear to be as long in all specimens. The pectoral fins in adults reach to the origin of the second dorsal fin, but never beyond the second dorsal fin to the finlets as in the albacore. The bigeye tuna (T. obesus) and the blackfin tuna (T. atlanticus) may have pectoral fins similar in length to those of the yellowfin. The yellowfin can be distinguished from the blackfin by the black margins on its finlets. Blackfin tuna, like albacore, have white margins on the finlets. It can be distinguished from the bigeye tuna by the lack of striations on the ventral surface of the liver.

 

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

tuna for ticos costa rica

This is probably the most colorful of all the tunas. The back is blue black, fading to silver on the lower flanks and belly. A golden yellow or iridescent blue stripe runs from the eye to the tail, though this is not always prominent. All the fins and finlets are golden yellow though in some very large specimens the elongated dorsal and anal fins may be silver edged with yellow. The finlets have black edges. The belly frequently shows as many as 20 vertical rows of whitish spots.

tuna for ticos

The diet depends largely on local abundance, and includes flying fish, other small fish, squid and crustaceans. Fishing methods include trolling with small fish, squid, or other trolled baits including strip baits and artificial lures as well as chumming with live bait fishing.

It is highly esteemed both as a sport fish and as table fare. Its flesh is very light compared to that of other tunas, with the exception of the albacore, which has white meat.

If you would like to make an impact and help FECOP  stop illegal fishing in Costa Rica, please sign the petition below

Dear representatives,

Presidency of the Republic,

Legislative Assembly Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,

National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture,

Ministry of Environment and Energy,

Vice Ministry of Water and Seas,

National Coast Guard Service,

The situation of illegal fishing that is happening in our country is a serious problem that affects our marine resources, the national economy and that of our communities.

It is for this reason that through this petition we request better controls and effective surveillance for foreign tuna fleets.

Better penalization mechanisms for those who break the law of our country and exploit our resources indiscriminately.

As well as support and prioritization for national fleets in the consolidation of sustainable tuna fishing in our territorial waters.

I hereby support this cause by registering my information on the following petition.

More Costa Rica Fishing  Species

Related Posts

Sustainable Fishing – Greensticking for Tuna in Costa Rica

Explaining the Costa Rica Tuna Decree

Tuna for Ticos – Sign the Petition Against Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

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FECOP Featured On Channel 7 – Tuna for Ticos

FECOP’s Tuna for Ticos Campaign Against Illegal Fishing Featured Today on Channel 7 News

Watch the Video Below to see the impact of illegal fishing first hand

FECOP’s Tuna for Ticos Campaign which is aimed at stopping illegal fishing in Costa Rica was featured today on Channel 7 News Teletica. We hope you’ll watch the following clips depicting video of the impact some of these non-sustainable practices have on Costa Rica’s precious marine resources. This kind of illegal fishing is also harmful to the prosperity of local communities via jobs in the artisanal fishing and the tourism sectors.

Click The Following Image to View The Video

Your Voice is Important – Sign the Tuna for Ticos Petition and help put an end to illegal, non-sustainable fishing practices – Make an Impact!

Dear representatives,

Presidency of the Republic,

Legislative Assembly Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,

National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture,

Ministry of Environment and Energy,

Vice Ministry of Water and Seas,

National Coast Guard Service,

The situation of illegal fishing that is happening in our country is a serious problem that affects our marine resources, the national economy and that of our communities.

It is for this reason that through this petition we request better controls and effective surveillance for foreign tuna fleets.

Better penalization mechanisms for those who break the law of our country and exploit our resources indiscriminately.

As well as support and prioritization for national fleets in the consolidation of sustainable tuna fishing in our territorial waters.

I hereby support this cause by registering my information on the following petition.

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Blue Marlin

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Pacific Blue Marlin

FECOP  Costa Rica Fishing Species

Pacific Blue Marlin

Pacific Blue Marlin

WHERE FOUND IN COSTA RICA: Marlin can be found all along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. They are a pelagic and migratory species which means they live near the surface in deep, off-shore waters. They typically are found in warmer tropical waters between 70-85 degrees, which Costa Rica has year round.

Marlin Time in Costa Rica: Marlin can be and have been caught year round in Costa Rica. Historically, the best months for blue marlin in the Southern and Central Pacific regions of Costa Rica (Osa Peninsula, Quepos, Jaco) are November through January. Most years there is usually a ‘second run’ of marlin around June and July which may include an increase in black and striped marlin mixed in with the blues. Marlin are also found in the northwestern part of Costa Rica – Guanacaste from May to September when the bite then moves north along the coast with the drier weather and warmer waters.

Marlin Facts – Did You Know:

  • Sometimes referred to as “The Lady in Blue”
  • Average life span: 27 years (females); 18 years (males)
  • It is illegal to take a sailfish or marlin out of the water for photos in Costa Rica
  • Marlins are “Catch and Release” ONLY fish – Learn why it is against the law to remove these fish from the water in Costa Rica
  • Best time of year to catch a Pacific blue marlin in Costa Rica – Year round peaking in Nov – January and again in April – times vary depending on which part of Costa Rica you are fishing – contact your Costa Rica guide or lodge for details.
  • The Blue marlin is very large fish. Females are 3 to 4 times larger than males. Larger specimens can reach 14 feet in length and weight of almost 2000 pounds. On average, blue marlin usually reaches 11 feet in length and between 200 and 400 pounds in weight.
  • Dorsal (back) side of blue marlin is dark blue while the belly is silver white in color.Blue marlin has elongated body, long tail, pronounced dorsal fin and sharp, spear-shaped upper jaw.
  • Blue marlin uses its spear-shaped jaw to stun, corral and catch food. It feeds on crustaceans, fish (mackerel, tuna), dorado and squids.
  • During the hunt, blue marlin will pass through a dense school of fish and inflict injuries with its spear. Dead or injured fish will float around and blue marlin will easily scoop them afterwards.
  • Blue marlin relies on the eye sight to find food. It hunts during the day (diurnal animal).
  • Blue marlin has 24 vertebrae which allow fast movement through the water. It reaches the speed of 60 miles per hour.
  • Because of their large size and sharp spear-shaped jaw, blue marlins have only couple of predators: white sharks, mako sharks and humans.
  • Blue marlins are very active and strong animals. They like to leap out of the water. Also, they will show powerful and acrobatic movements while trying to release of the hook.
  • Blue marlins are solitary creatures. Sometimes they swim in pairs. Rarely, they will gather in larger groups (schools).
    Blue marlins are migratory species. They will move from one location to another to escape low water temperatures (they prefer life in warm waters).
  • Mating season of blue marlins takes place late in the summer or early in the autumn.
  • Females become sexually mature when they gain the weight of 265 pounds. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of three years.
  • Females are able to spawn 4 times per single mating season, releasing up to 7 million eggs. Only small percent of released eggs (less than 1%) will survive until the adulthood.
  • Majority of eggs will be eaten by other marine creatures.
  • Current Pacific World Record:1,376 – Females can reportedly grow to 1,998lbs
  • Common Name: Blue Marlin
  • Size: Up to 14 ft
Pacific Blue Marlin

Photo by Pat Ford

On any day of the year it is possible to release (catch and release species by law in Costa Rica) a Pacific blue marlin in Costa Rica (Pacific) but recorded releases are historically highest from November to January when the big dorado run is on. There is also a small peak in April as sailfish numbers drop. July through September there is a better chance at a black or striped marlin mixed in with the blues in Costa Rica

More About the Pacific Blue Marlin

Lacepede, 1802; ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY
From IGFA Fish Database

IGFA FISH DATABASEThis pelagic and migratory species occurs in tropical and warm temperate oceanic waters. In the Atlantic Ocean it is found from 45°N to 35°S, and in the Pacific Ocean from 48°N to 48°S. It is less abundant in the eastern portions of both oceans. In the Indian Ocean it occurs around Ceylon, Mauritius, and off the east coast of Africa. In the northern Gulf of Mexico its movements seem to be associated with the so called Loop Current, an extension of the Caribbean Current. Seasonal concentrations occur in the southwest Atlantic (5°-30°S) from January to April; in the northwest Atlantic (10°-35°N) from June to October; in the western and central North Pacific (2°-24°N) from May to October; in the equatorial Pacific (10°N-10°S) in April and November; and in the Indian Ocean (0°-13°S) from April to October.

A Japanese report indicates that the blue marlin is the largest of the istiophorid fishes. It apparently grows larger in the Pacific. All giant marlins are females, and male blue marlin rarely exceed 300 lb (136 kg). The pectoral fins of blue marlin are never completely rigid, even after death, and can be folded completely flat against the sides except in the largest specimens. The dorsal fin is high and pointed anteriorly (rather than rounded) and its greatest height is less than the greatest body depth. The anal fin is relatively large and it too is pointed. Juveniles may not share all the characteristics listed above, but the peculiar lateral line system is usually visible in small specimens. In adults it is rarely visible unless the scales or skin are removed. The vent is just in front of the anal fin, as it is in all billfish except the spearfish. The back is cobalt blue and the flanks and belly are silvery white. There may be light blue or lavender vertical stripes on the sides, but these usually fade away soon after death, and they are never as obvious as those of the striped marlin. There are no spots on the fins.

They are known to feed on squid and pelagic fishes, including tuna and mackerel. A powerful, aggressive fighter, they run hard and long, sound deep, and leap high into the air in a seemingly inexhaustible display of strength. Fishing methods include trolling large whole baits such as bonito, dorado, mullet, mackerel, ballyhoo, flying fish and squid as well as various types of artificial lures and sometimes strip baits.

Photo(s) by Pat Ford

Some taxonomists believe that the Atlantic and Pacific blue marlins are closely related but separate species. They apply the scientific name Makaira nigricans, Lacepede, 1892, to the Atlantic species only and the name Makaira mazara (Jordan & Snyder, 1901) to the Pacific and Indian Ocean species. Others treat the two populations as subspecies, Makaira nigricans nigricans and Makaira nigricans mazara

Black or Blue? – It is hard for most captains and anglers to tell the difference at times unless they are close to the fish. At closer range, one can be quickly and positively identified since it is the only marlin that have rigid pectoral fins that cannot be folded flat up against the body without breaking the joints. It is also set apart by the airfoil shape of the pectoral fins and by its very short ventral fins, which almost never exceed 12 in (30 cm) in length, regardless of the size of the fish. The first dorsal fin is proportionately the lowest of any billfish, usually less than 50 percent of the body depth. The body is laterally compressed, rather than rounded; much more so than in similar sized blue marlin.

World Record Details from Marlin Magazine:

World Record Blue MarlinNote: It is against the law in most countries to remove billfish from the water for photos – These are catch and release fish ONLY – To learn more read Leave the fish in the water, why your dream photo isn’t worth it – by Todd Staley

On May 31, 1982, angler Jay de Beaubien caught the biggest Pacific blue marlin ever recorded by the International Game Fish Association while he was fishing aboard No Problem, a 43-foot Merritt captained by Bobby Brown. The bite took place at approximately 1 p.m. while they were trolling a silver and blue Kita lure off Kona, Hawaii. According to the angler’s account, “All hell broke loose with that first run.” Within minutes, the fish had nearly emptied the spool. However, despite several strong runs and the immense size of the fish, de Beaubien and the crew had the fish boat-side in just 40 minutes. Not long after, the crew officially weighed the 1,376-pound blue marlin, bringing the All-Tackle record back to Kona where it has remained ever since. This photo is for historical purposes only, it is illegal to remove billfish from the water.

 

Related Articles

Leave the billfish in the water, why your dream photo isn’t worth it

How to safely handle a sailfish or marlin

How to estimate the size of a sailfish or marlin

What is the Costa Rica Tuna Decree?

An Introduction to Pacific Sailfish – Sailfish for Dummies

Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica Sign the Petition

Sailfish or Marlin? Top 10 Fastest Fish

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tuna for ticos

Stop Illegal Fishing, Sign the Petition

Help FECOP Fight Illegal, Non-Sustainable Fishing in Costa Rica – Sign the Petition – Tuna for Ticos

It is estimated that up to 26% of tuna taken in Costa Rican territorial waters by foreign tuna purse seiners is unreported, taken illegally, never makes it to a Costa Rican port, and doesn’t benefit Costa Rica in any manner.

The tuna issue in Costa Rica is not new. A FECOP study in 2013 showed that Costa Rica tuna was being overexploited and the country was only benefiting $37 a ton from tuna captured here. FECOP presented a project “Tuna for Ticos” to President Laura Chinchilla and she signed the “tuna decree” at the tail end of her administration moving tuna seiners a total of 45 miles from the coast and protecting areas around sea mounts and Cocos Island. A total of 200,000 square kilometers of territorial was labeled for protection.

Tuna Persein Commerical Fishing Dolphins

Tuna fishing vessel

Luis Guillermo Solis delayed the passing of the decree when he succeeded Chinchilla as President but the “tuna decree” eventually went into effect in 2014. FECOP science in 2017 convinced the government to limit the number of licenses awarded to foreign vessels and ordered the tuna licenses reduced from 43 issued to 13. Evaluating past landing records this moved saved 25 tons of would have been marlin bycatch as well as sharks, turtles, dorado and marine mammals (mainly dolphin, since they have a symbiotic relationship with yellowfin tuna).

“Greenstick Fishing,” a method of trolling for tuna commercially with almost zero by-catch has been used by innovators in the commercial industry for some time here in Costa Rica. To make greenstick fishing legal in Costa Rica, technical studies were necessary and FECOP team with INA, and INCOPESCA to produce scientific and technical support and the greenstick license was approved in 2018.

 

Inside the 45-mile protected zone the tuna resource has made an astounding recovery. FECOP recently met with representatives of the commercial longline fleet in Puntarenas and Quepos to discuss the tuna issue and fishing with greensticks and other more selective types of gear. Consumers of tuna are more aware now and fish caught in this manner and they have a better market price than tuna caught by other means.

We heard the same in both places. There is still not enough tuna available to Costa Rican commercial fleets to make it viable and profitable to fish greenstick or pole and line, one by one tuna. They explained foreign fleets were taking most of the available tuna with little benefit to Costa Rica and illegal tuna boats were in fact stealing resources from Costa Rica. With all Costa Ricans working together, commercial, sport, ONG’s and the public, we can convince the government to look after its own and not give away our resource to foreign interests.

Tuna Persein Fishing in Costa Rica

The long-term benefit will be more fish available for TICO fisherman. With that other fishing methods will be feasible, and less turtles, sharks, billfish, and marine mammals will perish in nets or by non-selective types of fishing.

Make an Impact!

SIGN THE OFFICIAL PETITION BELOW TO SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

Dear representatives,

Presidency of the Republic

Legislative Assembly Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock

National Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture

Ministry of Environment and Energy

Vice Ministry of Water and Seas

National Coast Guard Service

 The situation of illegal fishing that is happening in our country is a serious problem that affects our marine resources, the national economy and that of our communities. It is for this reason that through this petition we request better controls and effective surveillance for foreign tuna fleets. Better penalization mechanisms for those who break the law of our country and exploit our resources indiscriminately. As well as support and prioritization for national fleets in the consolidation of sustainable tuna fishing in our territorial waters.

Tuna for Ticos Petition

Learn more:

Conservation International and Coastguard research, 100 vessels had suspicious fishing activities (2016-2017)

https://www.nacion.com/ciencia/medio-ambiente/tecnologia-detecta-posibles-delitos-de-barcos/GENHNRYED5GO3HJIRLR6M3PYWA/story/

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister of Environment, declaring in radio show, 50 million of dollars lost each year to illegal fishing. 

http://www.monumental.co.cr/2018/07/31/costa-rica-pierde-hasta-50-millones-de-dolares-en-pesca-ilegal-de-atun/

llegal fishing in Isla del Coco

https://www.crhoy.com/nacionales/pesca-ilegal-de-barcos-extranjeros-golpea-isla-del-coco/

Global fish watch map that report possible IUU activity within 45 miles (2015-Oct 2018) (Look in the left bottom corner a play bottom and click it)

http://globalfishingwatch.org/map/workspace/udw-v2-c855e0be-a356-4f99-bb2c-12f2c2cbde58

 

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Costa Rica Snook Fishing

Meet The Snook King of Costa Rica’s Pacific

FECOP Featured Sport Fishing Captain:

Roy Zapata – Snook King of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

Published for the Tico Times by Todd Staley

Costa Rica Snook FishingRoy Zapata thinks like a fish. A really big fish. A big snook in fact. He has guided anglers to several world record snook over 50 lbs, the largest was Ward Michaels’s  60 lb fish, caught in March of 2014. He has 3 records in the book and a 51 lb fish caught last July by Whitney Thomas is pending verification from the International Game Fish Association as the new women’s world record.

Zapata comes from a long line of fishermen in Quepos. The oldest of seven siblings, his father left while he was still young, so he went from big brother to father figure, working and going to school. His uncles taught him how to fish. He began fishing at night as a handline artisanal fisherman, bringing his catch in at daybreak to sell at the dock. This allowed him time to attend to his brothers and sisters.

“I did that for almost 15 years and came in one morning with a boat load of snapper. There was this crazy gringo on the dock that said I want to fish with you. I explained I did not have the equipment or lures as I was a handline fisherman and he said he would buy them.” The “gringo” fished with him for a week. Zapata smiled as he recalled that the angler bought nearly 20 lures a day and lost many to toothy mackerel but also caught plenty of roosterfish and jacks and snapper and paid him almost $200 a day. That was the beginning of his charter career.

Snook Womens Record

He continued to fish commercially and when he had a request he would take a tourist fishing. He was fishing snook commercially and doing quite well. The big snook he brought to the dock caught lots of attention and the line of sport anglers that wanted to charter him grew.

In the meantime, Marina Pez Vez was built in Quepos and one day Zapata took Harbor Master Carter Tackas fishing. Zapata told Tackas he wanted to start fishing tourists out of the marina. Tackas gave him some good advice. He had to get completely legal and have insurance to fish out of the marina. This meant he had to give up fishing commercially because in Costa Rica a boat can not hold a license to fish tourists and fish to sell your catch also.

“A fishing license to commercial fish was $40 dollars a year and the tourist license $400. Insurance is very expensive also, but I made the decision and now release most of my catch. (Tourist fishing boats are allowed 5 fish per day). I take very few snook these days.”  He won Marina Pez Vela’s annual inshore fishing tournament three years in a row and decided not to fish last year. His younger brother who is also a snook guide won that tournament.

His boat or as he describes it, “is my office, my machete, and my computer. It is my work tool.” The vessel is bare bones but very sea worthy and set up to fish where the big fish hang out. He has painted the interior of the boat bright pink. Most people think that is a bit strange but when people share photos of their catch, there is no mistake which boat they were fishing in. Quite the marketing strategy. The boat is also a powerful tiller driven motor which allows him to move quickly about the waves. The big snook hang at the breaking waves near shore.

I call it rodeo fishing. Zapata’s experience has made him an expert at timing waves. Getting your bait in the zone is a coordinated effort between him and his anglers to place the bait, in the zone. He prefers mullet or sardines. He sits behind the breaking waves watching the set. After the last wave from that set comes in, he races forward, and the anglers cast their baits. They free-spool line as he heads back outside before the next set of waves arrive, leaving the bait just where the big girls hang. He has success slow trolling baits on the back side of the breaks also.

You can catch a snook any day of the year, but he says March through June is the prime season. Two of his records came in late March and his last in early July. Near the new moon in March is when it starts, and many fish are taken between 20 and 30 lbs. When he notices the male snook he is catching are full of milk, (sperm) he knows the big females have arrived. From then on, there is a good chance at a really big fish. He had a fish much bigger than his 60 lb record that the hook pulled the hook next to the boat. A new record id out there.

Whitney Thomas hired him to catch roosterfish and after she had taken several asked if they could try for a snook. She hooked the fish on 15 lb test line and coaxed it for 45 minutes before they had the massive snook in the boat. For more information you can reach Zapata at +506 8505 5819 and a 6 hour charter is $400.

By Todd Staley published for the Tico Times print edition – Don’t forget to pick up your copy!

More Popular Fishing Articles

FECOP Featured Tarpon Fishing Captain, Eddie Brown

Sport fishing in Costa Rica: Where to Go, What You’ll Find

Costa Rica Fishing Species Tarpon AKA Silver King

The Fastest Growing Fish in The Ocean?

Costa Rica Marine Resources –  Sport Fishing Isn’t The Problem

Costa Rica is Giving Away its Fishing Wealth

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Costa Rica Snook

Snook (Robalo)

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Snook (Robalo)

Costa Rica Snook

Costa Rica Snook Facts

  1. There are 6 varieties of Snook in Costa Rica with Black Snook having the genetic predisposition to grow the largest.
  2. The most recent snook world record was a Black Snook out of Costa Rica. Read about the Captain who’s boat landed the world record Snook here.
  3. The common Snook is a voracious predator and an amazing fighter. It’s also white flaky meat is highly prized. Because of this it is highly sought after in areas like Florida and Costa Rica.
  4. Snook spend part of their in fresh and saltwater – they can live in either.
  5. It is illegal to buy or sell snook in the USA….If you want to eat one, you have to go catch one
  6. Costa Rica produces some of the biggest Snook in the world with the both the current and previous world records coming out of Costa Rica – The biggest a Black Snook weighing in at 60lbs
  7. Snook are hermaphrodites and change sex throughout their lives from male to female, the exact reason is unknown but being studied.

Costa Rica Snook Facts

CENTROPOMIDAE FAMILY also Called Robalo
(From the IGFA Fish Database)

IGFA FISH DATABASEThe genus Centropomus is confined to the American tropics and subtropics. Six species occur in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific. None occur in both oceans. They inhabit shallow coastal waters, estuaries and brackish lagoons, often penetrating far inland in fresh water. Their movements between fresh and salt water are seasonal, but they stay close to shore and never stray far from estuaries.

They are very distinctive and it would be difficult to confuse them with any other fishes. The lower jaw protrudes and a highly prominent black lateral line runs from the top of the gill cover along the sides and all the way through the tail. The body is compressed and the snout depressed and pike like. Two dorsal fins are separated by a gap. The second anal spine is conspicuous, spurlike, much thicker than the first and third. The margin of the preopercle is serrate, with 1 5 enlarged denticles at angle.

One of the axioms relating to fish species is that the colors will likely be variable depending on season, habitat, and/or any number of other conditions. The snook is no exception. The back of the snook may be brown, brown gold, olive green, dark gray, greenish silver, or black, depending largely on the areas the fish inhabits. The flanks and belly are silvery.

Its diet consists mainly of fish and crustaceans. Fishing methods include trolling or casting artificial lures or still fishing with live baits like pinfish, mullet, shrimp, crabs, or other small fish. Best fishing is said to be on the changing tide, especially high falling tide around river mouths and coastal shores and night fishing from bridges and in ocean inlets. A flooding or rising tide is more productive at creek heads.

An excellent table fish with delicate, white, flaky meat, it is a member of the Centropomidae family, which also includes the 200 lb (90.72 kg) Nile perch (Lates niloticus) and the barramundi (Lates calcarifer). It usually matures by the third year and has a life span of at least seven years. It is very sensitive to temperature and may not survive at temperatures below about 60oF (15oC)

Multiple species
Snook belong to the family Centropomidae, which contains 12 closely related species that inhabit both the Atlantic and the Pacific. The largest is thought to be the black snook, which is found only on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and has the largest IGFA record, at 57 pounds, 12 ounces. Florida is home to five of these species: common snook, small-scaled fat snook, large-scaled fat snook,  tarpon snook, and swordspine snook.  It takes a pretty good eye to tell some of the species apart, and location of catch is often the best indicator. The snook on

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TOP 10 COOL FACTS ABOUT TARPON

FECOP Top Ten Tarpon Fun Facts

 

Yes, fish in general are very cool, but some fish take the “cool factor” to a whole new level. Meet the Tarpon. We think you’ll agree that this is one of the most interesting fish in the sea.

 

  • There are nearly 28,000 different fish, but only two species of tarpon.
  • Tarpon can survive in both salt and fresh water being found in Lake Nicaragua and other fresh water habitats
  • They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again.
  • Fishes were in fact the first vertebrates on Earth and date back to the Paleozoic era — the first fossil evidence of Tarpon is 125 million years old making these fighters older than a TRex.
  • Tarpon can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh nearly 300 pounds
  • There was a 64-year-old tarpon that died in the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago in the 1990s.
  • Tarpon have a potential lifespan of around 150 yrs
  • Tarpon have amazing color vision with five types of cones cells in their eyes, they can see into the ultraviolet spectrum even further than birds and insects that have four types of cones cells in their eyes. In case you are wondering, humans only have three types of cone cells.
  • Throughout history, tarpon scales have been used as nail files, wall art and pulverized for medicinal purposes. In Brazil tarpon scales werre pulverized into a powder and mixed into tea as it is believed to help with asthma,”  “Sadly, the plucked tarpon is most often left to die.” – so stick to your asthma inhaler
  • And the #1 Cool Fact About Tarpon -Tarpon breathe in oxygen from the water using gills, but they can also utilize oxygen from air in the atmosphere,” Guindon explained. “They have for long rows of lung-like material inside a swim bladder that allows this to happen.” Which explains their rolling behavior in waters with low oxygen levels

And if you think those facts are cool….watch this video of one jumping during a Costa Rica fishing trip, video courtesy Capt. Eddie Brown

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Costa Rica Fishing Species Tarpon aka The Silver King

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The King - Silverking Tarpon

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Tarpon aka “Silver King”

Costa Rica Fishing Species: Tarpon

Can I catch Tarpon in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica boasts some of the best tarpon fishing in the world, and they can be targeted year round. Historically the best tarpon fishing in Costa Rica is October and November.

Region: Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

From the IGFA Fish Database:

Valenciennes, 1846; MEGALOPIDAE FAMILY; also called silver king, cuffum

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by “rolling” at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuge for the young.

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12 16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpons frequently
They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus stage, but the first three fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does not. Tarpon grow rather slowly and usually don’t reach maturity until they are six or seven years old and about 4 ft (1.2 m) long.

Fishing methods are still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting or trolling with spoons, plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. It was one of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish

Tarpon are such a fascinating species it’s hard to put all the interesting facts about them in a single article here is a great article form the Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon Remain a Fascinating Species

There are some things you never grow tired of seeing — osprey diving for fish, dolphin herding mullet and tarpon cruising along the beach on a calm summer morning. You can keep your trout, snook and redfish. Nothing gets my blood pumping like the silver king of sportfish.

It is usually about this time of year, when the fish are thick in Tampa Bay, that I call Kathy Guindon, the state’s tarpon guru, to learn something new about what I consider the most interesting fish in the world.

Guindon, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, never lets me down. For starters, there are nearly 28,000 different fish, but only two species of tarpon.

“Fishes were in fact the first vertebrates on earth and date back to the Paleozoic era — this makes fish older than the dinosaurs,” she said.

So think about that this weekend if you rush out to see the new Jurassic World movie. The Jurassic and Triassic periods were part of the Mesozoic era that followed the Paleozoic. So while T-Rex may be long gone, we still have tarpon.

The species, which can grow to be 8 feet long and weigh nearly 300 pounds, is currently found in the estuaries and coastal waters throughout the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico; in the eastern Atlantic and along the western coast of Africa.

While the different species of fish have varied life spans ranging from a few weeks to more than 150 years, tarpon have pretty long lives.

“Scientists use a tarpon’s otolith (ear stone) to determine how old it is and count the rings on the otolith very much like counting tree rings to determine a tree’s age,” Guindon explained. “There was a 64-year-old tarpon that died in the Shedd Aquarium of Chicago in the 1990s.”

Tarpon in the wild can live well into their 50s. That’s pretty impressive considering that this species is on numerous predators’ menus. Fish-eating birds feed on young tarpon. Porpoises and alligators sometimes eat larger ones. But by far, the most dangerous predators are sharks. A big bull shark or great hammerhead can easily cut an adult tarpon in half with just one bite.

Although sportsmen prize tarpon for their acrobatic leaps and fighting ability, this species was once hunted for food by the indigenous people of Florida, and South and Central America.

“While tarpon are a catch-and-release fishery here in the USA, I know a researcher studying tarpon in Nigeria who told me she and her family eat tarpon for Christmas dinner,” Guindon said. “This is not acceptable practice here in Florida and that would be against Florida law.”

Tarpon are scavengers and will eat just about anything. Despite their large size, they feed on surprisingly small organisms, including mullet, ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, crabs, threadfin herring, scaled sardines and even catfish.

Another cool fact that is guaranteed to thrill your fishing buddies when the bite drops off: “Tarpon have amazing color vision with five types of cones cells in their eyes,” Guindon said. “They can see into the ultraviolet spectrum even further than birds and insects that have four types of cones cells in their eyes.”

In case you are wondering, humans only have three types of cone cells.

Throughout history, tarpon scales have been used as nail files, wall art and pulverized for medicinal purposes. Guindon participated in the last global stock assessment of tarpon in 2011 where she met a colleague from South America.

“She told me that in Brazil tarpon scales are pulverized into a powder and mixed into tea as it is believed to help with asthma,” Guindon said. “Sadly, the plucked tarpon is most often left to die.”

Perhaps my most favorite fun tarpon fact is this almost mammal-like adaptation: “Tarpon breathe in oxygen from the water using gills, but they can also utilize oxygen from air in the atmosphere,” Guindon explained. “They have for long rows of lung-like material inside a swim bladder that allows this to happen.”

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Caribbean side, Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (rarely),can live in both fresh and saltwater and have even been found in Lake Nicaragua

World Record

TarponThe all-tackle world record tarpon stands at a monstrous 286lbs 9oz. It was caught by Max Domecq off Guinea-Bissau in Africa on March 20, 2003. If that’s not hard enough to take in, try this on for size: prior to that day, Domecq had never caught a tarpon. The near-300lb behemoth, taken on a live mullet, was his first tarpon bite ever. Where do you go from there?

Respect your elders

The oldest tarpon in captivity lived to be 63 years old. So, the next time you’re down in the Keys or off the coast of Costa Rica, and you hook one of the big girls, remember, there’s every chance you’ve just attached yourself to something older than you.

The Name Game

Megalops atlanticus is the Latin name for the Atlantic tarpon. But what does that mean? Well, the “atlanticus” bit I think we can all work out. As for “Megalops”, that’s a combination of two words: “mega” meaning “large” or “extreme”, and “lops” meaning “face”. Sometimes those Latin names don’t seem nearly as clever once you’ve translated them.

May I See Your Passport

Tarpon are more widely distributed than many realize, and are found on both sides of the Atlantic. They’ve been found as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil. Tarpon have also been discovered in small pockets of Pacific waters – off Costa Rica’s Pacific Costa in the South and on the Pacific side of Panama.

Tarpon Video From Tortuguero, Costa Rica by Eddie Brown

Prehistoric Perfection

You have to feel for the tarpon, they’re the classic victims of their own success. Just one look at them and you know this is a fish that’s been around for a while. Fossilised evidence confirms it – with roughly 125 million years of evolutionary development under their belts, these guys have become one of the ocean’s most efficient predators. They thrive in either saltwater or freshwater, they can tolerate oxygen-poor environments thanks to their unique air bladder, they can move at huge speed when hunting prey, and that bucket-sized vacuum for a mouth ensures that when something goes in, it stays in. Ironically, this incredible physiology that has allowed them to survive for so long is exactly what has turned them into such a prized sport fish.

Valenciennes, 1846; MEGALOPIDAE FAMILY; also called silver king, cuffum

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by “rolling” at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuge for the young.

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12 16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpons frequently have a golden or brownish color because of tannic acid.

They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel like larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish, ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus stage, but the first three fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does not. Tarpon grow rather slowly and usually don’t reach maturity until they are six or seven years old and about 4 ft (1.2 m) long.

Fishing methods are still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting or trolling with spoons, plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. It was one of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish

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