Category: Feature Articles

High Tech Albatross

Curbing Illegal Fishing With High Tech Albatross

Tech-tagged albatrosses bode ill for rogue trawlers as French Navy battles illegal fishing

Published by https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Mariners of old believed that an albatross following their ship signified good luck, but fishermen illegally trawling the Indian Ocean now have cause to be wary of the majestic seabirds.

Some 250 albatrosses are being equipped with tiny transceivers that will automatically pick up trawlers’ radar signals.

Their locations will be transmitted to the French navy, which will use the data to identify vessels fishing in prohibited waters in the Indian Ocean, off the remote French islands of Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam. France is responsible for patrolling some 260,000 square miles of the southern sea.

Vessels fishing illegally generally switch off their automatic identification system (AIS) to avoid being tracked by satellite, but they cannot navigate safely without emitting low-level radar signals which the birds’ transceivers can detect as they fly over the ships.

Sailing without radar in the rough waters of the Indian Ocean would be extremely reckless. “Radars mean safety, especially for illegal ships that have to detect and avoid naval vessels,” said Henri Weimerskirch of the Chizé Biological Research Centre in western France. “Half of the boats we detected [during trials] did not have their AIS switched on.”

The transceivers, weighing less than 60 grams, will be mounted on the albatrosses’ backs. They can pick up radar signals within a radius of more than three miles. Scientists will also use them to track the birds and analyse their feeding habits.

Eighteen of the 22 species of albatross are threatened, some with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Commercial longline fishing poses a major threat to seabirds. Hundreds of thousands of birds drown each year after being ensnared in fishing lines or nets as they swoop down to catch fish.

The transceivers will relay the whereabouts of illegal fishing boats to authorities Credit: Georges Gobet/AFP

More than 50 million birds live in the French Southern and Antarctic Nature Reserve, which includes the Indian Ocean waters policed by France, according to Cédric Marteau, head of the reserve.

“This is the highest concentration [of birds] in the world and the explosion of fishing after 2000 has caused lasting damage to the fragile natural balance,” he said.

The transceiver beacons, developed by scientists from France and New Zealand, will be fitted on albatrosses over the next five months in an operation known as “Ocean Sentinel”. Further trials are also to be carried out next year off New Zealand and Hawaii.

Many vessels that fish in prohibited waters fly flags of convenience and deliberately create confusion about their identities and nationalities.

Around 250 albatrosses will be fitted with the radar-sensing beacons Credit: drferry

A report by the Environmental Justice Foundation revealed that they try to escape detection by changing vessel names and flags, concealing ownership and sometimes removing ships from registers.

Chinese-flagged vessels have often been suspected of breaching international regulations, according to campaigners. Others have been registered in Panama, Belize or Malaysia, but even when ships are tracked with GPS and satellite systems, catching them in the act and taking their owners and operators to court can prove difficult and costly.

To avoid being apprehended by French authorities in the southern Indian Ocean, many vessels that fish illegally now prefer to operate in international waters, including Asian and South American trawlers that rarely use bird deterrent devices, officials said.

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Why Costa Rica is the Perfect Destination to Take the Kids Fishing

Why Costa Rica is a great place to take the kids fishing

The little Cessna rolled to a stop on the airstrip at Barra del Colorado. Out stepped a man and a young boy around 10 years old. “Welcome to Rio Colorado Bob”, I said. With a stern look he replied, “I prefer to be referred to as Dr. So and So.” I fed them breakfast and sent them out fishing. Later I saw the boat headed back in early and thought the poor kid probably got sea-sick.

Todd Staley

We got the hook removed without too many tears, but the kid had no desire to head back out on the water to chase tarpon with dad. I told dad he would be ok here at the lodge and thought to myself, I wouldn’t want to spend all day in a boat with that guy either. A while later I grabbed a couple of small spinning rods and the two of us spent the afternoon catching little snook, roncadors, and machacas off the dock. The kid was in heaven.

Twenty-five years later and I have entertained hundreds of families with kids fishing. The last 18 years at Crocodile Bay. Costa Rica is God’s place on earth to spend family time. Jungles, waterfalls, beaches and volcanos are all close to each other. Fishing should never be overlooked as family activity. Crocodile Bay is the perfect place to introduce your kids to the sport or just enjoy the hobby together. With the world moving fast-forward with fast food, single parenting, and electronic babysitting, family time seems to get scarcer and scarcer.

Mike Pizzi began fishing with us fifteen years ago and has since become a good friend. I have fished him as a single guy, while he courted his wife and again just recently as a family man. As a single guy he always had me in stiches but was not the luckiest of anglers. Although over time he caught many good fish, the grand prize of offshore fishing, the marlin had eluded him. We were sitting one night at happy hour when an elated customer who had never fished before began telling me all about his 500 lb marlin. Pizzi told him how much money he has spent to date chasing a marlin and directed the man to a fiery place where believers say is somewhere below the surface of the earth and people who live unsaintly lives go when they die. The first time Pizzi brought his wife Ann, who was then his girlfriend, she caught two marlins.

Today the Pizzi’s have been married 10 years and travel here once or twice annually with their daughter Eloise 8, and son Finn who is six. The kids each started fishing before their 4th birthday and refer to me as “Tio Fish”, Uncle Fish. They both have become quite the little anglers. Dad introduced then to fishing the correct way.

Rule #1. When you take a youngster fishing it is their day not yours. It is all about them, not you. If you take them out in the hot Costa Rican sun to watch dad or mom catch a big fish, you really haven’t accomplished much. As we know children have a short attention span, and need to be kept busy. In fishing they need action and fish small enough to entertain them, not scare them. Pizzi started his kids out catching bait. They could only handle a few hours on the water when they were small and by catching sardines and goggle-eyes, Pizzi accomplished two things. He showed them fishing was fun and had plenty of bait to use the next day while mom took them to look at monkeys.

By her Eloise’s 6th birthday, the kids had enough experience to tackle a full day on the water soaked in sunscreen and were ready for bigger quarry. Bottom fish like small snapper and triggerfish are in great abundance and it kept them busy while also teaching them about catch and release.

Then they were ready for something more challenging that took a little more patience. They started to chase small roosterfish and little yellowfin tuna. By now they were beginning to learn how to play a fish, not fight them and mom and dad were having more fun watching Eloise and Finn than if they were catching fish themselves. This year it was time for the big leagues.

I often have people call me before they come and ask if their 12 or 13-year-old child can catch a sailfish. I tell them they are a few years behind schedule. Sailfish are the perfect fish for a youngster, with close supervision and just a tad bit of help of course. First it is a giant of a fish compared to the size of a small angler and it cooperates very well. Sailfish make one powerful and amazing run putting with an acrobatic show not soon forgotten. Then they kind of just settle in near the surface. With a little support on the rod and the backing down with the boat of a capable captain, a relatively small child can catch a big fish.

Show and Tell will be a little more exciting for Eloise and Finn this year as they both caught their first sailfish. With all the crazy other stuff they did like chasing lizards, monkeys and crocodiles they had a great vacation. The tears in their eyes as they did not want it to end when the left made it all worth it. Mission accomplished mom and dad. Mission accomplished Tio Fish!

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Dorado fishing

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Dorado

Costa Rica Fishing Species – Dorado

Costa Rica Dorado

When to Catch Dorado in Costa Rica – November through January and occasionally in February – averaging 20 to 40 lbs. Dorado can be taken year round but not in the same numbers as the months listed above.

From the IGFA Database

Linnaeus, 1758; CORYPHAENIDAE FAMILY; also called dolphin, mahi mahi, dorado, goldmakrele, shiira.

Found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate seas, the dolphinfish is pelagic, schooling, and migratory. Though occasionally caught from an ocean pier, it is basically a deep-water species, inhabiting the surface of the open ocean. The dolphinfish is a distinctive fish, both for its shape and its colors. Though it is among the most colorful fish in the sea, the colors are quite variable and defy an accurate, simple description. Generally, when the fish is alive in the water, the dolphin is rich iridescent blue or blue green dorsally; gold, bluish gold, or silvery gold on the lower flanks; and silvery white or yellow on the belly. The sides are sprinkled with a mixture of dark and light spots, ranging from black or blue to golden. The dorsal fin is rich blue, and the anal fin is golden or silvery. The other fins are generally golden-yellow, edged with blue. When removed from the water, the colors fluctuate between blue, green, and yellow. After death the fish usually turns uniformly yellow or silvery gray.

Dorado are voracious predators – This is one of our all time favorite videos of a dorado pursuing flying fish

Large males (Bulls) have high, vertical foreheads, while the female’s (Cows) forehead is rounded. Males grow larger than females and are referred to as bulls, females as cows.

Female Dorado Male - Bull Dorado

They are extremely fast swimmers ( #9 in the Top 10 fish of the world’s oceans) and feed extensively on flying fish (see video above) and squid as well as on other small fish. They have a particular affinity for swimming beneath buoys, seaweed, logs, and floating objects of almost any kind.

Hooked dolphin may leap or tailwalk, darting first in one direction, then another. It is believed that they can reach speeds up to 50 mph (80.5 kph) in short bursts. Successful fishing methods include trolling surface baits (flying fish, mullet, balao, squid, strip baits) or artificial lures; also live bait fishing or casting. If the first dolphin caught is kept in the water, it will usually hold the school, and often others will come near enough to be caught by casting.

Bull Dorado on the Fly
In addition to being a highly rated game fish, the dolphin is a delicious food fish. It is referred to as the “dolphinfish” to distinguish it from the dolphin of the porpoise family, which is a mammal and in no way related.

Dorado

Related Article
Dorado – The Fastest Growing Fish in the Ocean?

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Costa Rica Roosterfish Fishing Tournament

Roosterfish Tournament in Costa Rica

1st International Roosterfish Tournament in Costa Rica

November 16 – 19, 2018 at Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica

 

Download PDFFOR COMPLETE ENTRY FORM, RULES AND ITINERARY IN PDF CLICK HERE

Entry Fee for United States Citizens is $1500 per person (including boat and lodging) and 100% Tax Deductible

The Pan American Sportfishing Confederation, FECOP (Federacion Costarricense de Pesca), and USA Angling Predator Team invite you to the first ever Pan American Roosterfish Championship for four-person teams.  This championship will be held at the 4 Star Crocodile Bay Resort on the tropical fjord Golfo Dulce in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica .  All Pan American countries are invited to participate.  This event will be part of the Pan American Sportfishing Confederation and will be an exciting competition for all the anglers from the Americas.

Costa Rica Fishing

We invite you to join us and represent your country at this tournament.  We also encourage all nations to invite our fellow Pan American nations to this event.  There are currently 41 nations participating in the Pan American Games, and we wish to invite them all.

Please review the attached application, competition rules, and event agenda.

Our team of volunteers are dedicated to making the event as enjoyable and exciting as possible.

Tournament Organizer:    

Costa Rica

Todd Staley    +506 8826 9658

Info@fecop.org

USA Angling Predator Team

Tournament Director:

Ben Blegen +1 612 232 3703

BenBlegen@USAPredatorTeam.org

Tournament location: Crocodile Bay Resort

Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica Central America
Crocodile Bay Resort

November 16 – 19, 2018

All banking and transfer fees are the responsibility of the paying attendees.

Wire information will be sent once application is received.

Email the Organizer for Bank Wire Transfer Details document and wire Instructions.

Henry Marin info@fecop.org por Espanol or

Registration Fee due at time of Application submission, by electronic money transfer.

Team Registration closes October 21, 2018.

If you have any problems with payment methods, please contact .

Send application via email BenBlegen@USAPredatorTeam.org copy to Todd@fecop.org

Registration fee for a four-angler team includes:       Based on quad occupancy

Lodging Crocodile Bay Resort… all meals included

Registration

All teams and attendees will be required to register at Crocodile Bay Resort and Resort, sign waivers, and take team pictures.  Please wear team jersey for team and group pictures.

Host Hotel Lodging

Championship headquarters will be Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica

Opening Ceremony

Country Flag ceremony will be at Crocodile Bay Conference Center where teams will enjoy the opening ceremony, festivities, and opening dinner.

Closing Ceremony
Staging, medals and flags at Crocodile Bay and awards banquet at Crocodile Bay Restaurant.

General Rules:

  • Costa Rica fishing license supplied to all visiting anglers. Copy of Passport ID needed in advance
  • All fishing done by rod and reel. Only one rod in use per angler at a time. Anglers can use own tackle or tackle supplied by Crocodile Bay Boats for those fishing on those boats.
  • Casting, trolling with artificial lures as well as live bait and dead bait are allowed.
  • All fishing done respecting Costa Rica fishing laws including no fishing in protected areas and no treble hooks allowed inside the Golfo Dulce. Circle hooks must be used while using live or dead bait.
  • Line limited to 30 lb test maximum.
  • Healthy fish will be tagged and released, and all fish must be measured and released as soon as possible.
  • Winners determined by team with most overall length of total roosterfish catch as well as anglers with three largest fish. Must have photo of fish measurement to show to judges if required. Captains will be stewards of all measurements.
  • Fishing area. Anywhere in Golfo Dulce and 25 miles in either direction of Matapalo Rock. Protected areas including National Park excluded.
  • Points given by fish measurement. (Tip of Nose to Fork of tail) One point per inch. 5 best fish per angler or 10 best fish for team per day.
  • Other inshore species like snapper, trevally, or jacks will be given 20 points per fish and can be used for teams that do not capture 10 roosterfish in one day
  • All ties broken by time off catch.

 

Agenda

Thursday November 15

Arrive to Costa Rica and transferred to hotel in San Jose (double occupancy)

Suggested airport for arrival – San Juan Santatamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose Costa Rica. One-night lodging in San Jose and round trip air to Crocodile Bay is included for visitors from other countries individual in package price. If you wish to drive it is 370 kilometers (229 miles or approximately 6 hours) to Puerto Jimenez.  Local phone at Crocodile Bay Resort is

2735-5631

Friday November 16

5:00am – 12:00pm transferred to airport for transportation to Crocodile Bay

7:00am – 4:00pm Arrival and registration

5:00pm – 6:30pm Captains meeting and boat drawing

6:30 – 8:30 Opening Ceremony and Dinner

Saturday November 17

5:30am Breakfast at hotel

6:15am Anglers meet boats at pier

6:30am Boats depart from Pier Day 1 fishing

3:30pm Deadline for arrival at pier after fishing

4:00pm – 5:30 snacks at bar

6:30pm Dinner at hotel and boat drawing for day two

Sunday November 18

5:30am Breakfast at hotel

6:15am Anglers meet boats at pier

6:30am Boats depart from

Pier Day 1 fishing

3:30pm Deadline for arrival at pier after fishing

4:00pm – 5:30 snacks at bar

6:30pm Dinner and awards at hotel

Monday November 19

5:30 – 8:30 Breakfast at hotel

Departure times depend on mode of transportation and may start as early as 6:30am

*What is included.  Transfer from airport (SJO) to hotel in San Jose for International visitors. Transfer from hotel in San Jose to domestic flight to Puerto Jimenez. Transfer by domestic airline to Crocodile Bay. Three days lodging and all meals at Crocodile Bay. Two full days of tournament fishing with boat and area guide, bait tackle and fishing license. Return flight to San Jose and transfer to International airport for departure.

Not included: Meals in San Jose, Alcoholic beverages (except complimentary wine at Crocodile Bay at dinner) and tips for hotel and fishing staff.

FOR COMPLETE REGISTRATION FORM, RULES AND ITINERARY IN PDF CLICK HERE

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FECOP Featured Fishing Captain, Eddie Brown

Costa Rica Fishing: King of the Silver Kings

Costa Rica Featured Fishing Captain – Eddie Brown, Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tarpon schooling on Costa Rica’s Caribbean.

As you approach the river mouth at Barra del Colorado for the first time, it appears as if you are about to enter a washing machine gone berserk. The river current pushing out against the incoming waves breaking on the sandbar makes for an interesting combination of a thrilling boat ride that will challenge any Disney attraction. To cross the sandbar, one needs to position the boat as close to the incoming waves as possible and study the series of breakers.  The sets will come with big waves followed by a few smaller waves. That´s when you take your shot, quartering the waves until you are on the outside.

And there is gold on the other side of those hills – or should I say, silver? Silver Kings, or Tarpon by the tons, swim in acre-sized schools, and once you cross the “bar,” you are usually met with a fairly calm ocean. On the days the waves are just too big to pass, much of the fishing is done in front of the breakers or up the river.

Eduardo Brown has been chasing tarpon and fulfilling anglers’ bucket lists for the last 45 years. Not many people will argue with the claim that he is probably the top tarpon guide in Costa Rica. In the recent Club Amateur de Pesca tournament, he guided his team, which included his wife Cynthia, to 17 tarpon the first day.Tarpon Fishing VideosOnce Brown is on the outside, he will usually head north, sometimes south, along the coast, always on the lookout for rolling fish. When he locates an area that holds fish, he will either have his clients fish with 1- to 3-ounce jigs depending on the speed of their drift, or send a sardine down.For years, fishing was all done with artificial lures, but several years ago anglers started fishing with bait on a circle hook. Various types of sardines are readily available to be jigged up with small gold hooks. No need to worry about a live well, as they work just as well with dead bait.

“The hook-up to catch ratio with lures is about 20 to 30%”, explained Brown. “With bait on a circle hook, we are landing 80 to 90% of our bites.”

A Costa Rican tarpon will average around 80 lbs, and fish as large as 200 lbs have been taken on occasion. Pound for pound, they are one of the most powerful of game fish and put on a spectacular aerial show.
A tarpon takes to the sky.

This species has no trouble traversing from saltwater to freshwater; they congregate in large schools in the ocean and in smaller groups and singles in freshwater lagoons,  rivers, and creeks. They travel the Colorado and San Juan Rivers from the coast all the way to Lake Nicaragua.

Wherever the tarpon might be, Brown will follow them. He fishes the ocean in a 22-foot open fisherman designed particularly for the Caribbean by Pete Magee, who had his boat building operation in Santa Ana, just west of San José. To get into the backcountry, up the narrow creeks in Costa Rica and San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua, he prefers to use a 19-foot Carolina skiff.

There, he also guides light tackle and fly fishermen for snook and freshwater exotics like guapote, a powerful and colorful fish a travel agent or outdoor writer prefers to call rainbow bass for obvious reasons; mojarra, a large bream-like cichlid; and machaca, a distant relative of the piranha that is of poor food quality but very sporting on light tackle. Brown says the backwaters and creeks are still pristine, but fewer tarpon seem to hang out in the main river due

(Courtesy of Eduardo Brown)

Brown is also one of the few who have experimented with Caribbean offshore fishing. Sailfish, yellowfin tuna, dorado, barracuda and kingfish have been taken from his boat. He has a special knack for taking large wahoo. Large Rapala lures trolled behind his boat usually takes wahoo that sometimes tip the scale at 60 lbs. And he does it in 125 feet of green water, something a Pacific-coast angler probably would not even fish in, preferring clean blue water.

Still, tarpon is his favorite, and he loves taking people to catch their first one. When he doesn’t have a charter, you will find him fishing with his family. Ask anyone slightly familiar with Costa Rican tarpon and they will know the name Eddie Brown. He truly is the King of the Silver Kings.

(Courtesy of Eduardo Brown)

Naty Brown poses with a snook taken with her father, Eduardo Brown. (Courtesy of Eduardo Brown)

For more information, contact Eddie at 8834-2221 or 

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full time to marine conservation

FECOP features a Captain each month we feel is worthy of profiling based on their conservation efforts, community support, or innovative low impact fishing techniques. If you would like to consider a captain for consideration contact info@fecop.org

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Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Fishing as an Olympic Sport?

Recreational groups meet at Pan-American Delegation to discuss sport being added to Olympics and Pan-American Games

Winter sailfish off Stuart, Florida

Could sport fishing be in the next winter Olympics?

Recreational fishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries hope to make sport fishing an Olympic sport in the near future.

According to a press release from FECOP, a Costa Rican non-profit sport-fishing organization, the groups met in Cancun, Mexico, in November for the inaugural assembly of the PanAmerican Sport-Fishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sport fishing as a competitive sport, with hopes of it being added to the Pan-American Games, and share a unified front on fishing conservation. FECOP represented Costa Rica during the meeting.

The release states the Olympics addition would be reliant on cooperation from the European countries. Golf, table tennis and handball recently were added as Olympic sports. Skateboarding, surfing and climbing will be included in the 2020 Games.

The release cites the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, which says the countries from North, Central, and South America making up the Americas “are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics.” An international governing body for fishing applied for the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, but it was denied. According to BBC.com, fishing was part of the 1900 games in Paris but it was an unofficial sport and there was no winner — and only six countries participated.

There are four Pan-American tournaments — three saltwater — scheduled for 2018. A snook tournament will be in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament will happen at Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala also might host another snook tournament. – Article from www.saltwatersportsman.com

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Sustainable Fishing News: Green Sticking in Costa Rica

Green sticking or “palo verde” as it is known in Spanish is not a new form of fishing in Costa Rica. It has been used successfully for years in Japan and the United States in commercial and sport tuna fishing. The method allows anglers to target tuna with very little bycatch. It involves mounting a long fiberglass rod, tinted green, on the boat to drag squid lures above the surface of the water. The tuna are drawn to the lures by the commotion of the trailing “bird” teaser lure-weight and competition for food.

FECOP, Costa Rica’s sport-fishing advocacy group’s Director of Science, Moises Mug, holds a Masters of Science degree in Fisheries Biology and has been studying the tuna purse seine industry since 2001. His work with FECOP persuaded President Laura Chinchilla to sign a decree at the end of her term that moved tuna purse seine operations 45 miles off the coast and protected a total of 120,000 square miles of ocean from commercial tuna fishing. Her predecessor, President Luis Guillermo Solis, published the decree and it became law. Earlier this year Mug’s studies helped persuade the government to reduce tuna licenses issued from 43 to 13.

Costa Rica Green Stick fishing

Since late 2016 Mug has led a green-sticking study involving FECOP, INCOPESCA,(the government agency in charge of fisheries), and INA, the technical training institution that teaches different trades in Costa Rica including commercial and sport-fishing as a business. FECOP has spent over $100,000 on refurbishing and outfitting INA’s boat, Solidaridad, which was once used to teach longline fishing. The research team will be testing the efficiency, amount of bycatch of green-sticking as well as vertically dropped lines for tuna. Eventually INA will add a “Green-Sticking” course to its fishing trade agenda, training Costa Ricans on their proper use.

In Costa Rica all new or modified fishing rules must be backed by technical support. Studies not conducted in Costa Rican waters are rarely accepted. So even though green-stick fishing has proven successful in other parts of the world as a sustainable method, it has not yet been officially approved for Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica will greatly benefit from the adoption of green-sticking for tuna for the commercial market and sport-fishing as well. The adoption and promotion of green-stick fishing not only will provide social, economic and environmental benefits but will set an example for sustainable fisheries in Costa Rica,” Mug says.

Once this project is before the board of directors of INCOPESCA, a decision is expected soon. With the increasing demand for sustainable-caught tuna on the International market, the tuna exporters are also expected to support this license.

For more information, contact: www.fishcostarica.org or info@fecop.org

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Costa Rica Marine Protected Area

Costa Rica Fishing Groups Reject Proposed Marine Reserve

Eight sport-fishing associations and two fishing clubs represented by FECOP, the sport-fishing advocacy group in Costa Rica, voted unanimously against the Alvaro Ulgalde Marine Reserve even though its promoters claim sport-fishing will be allowed in the proposed law sent to the Costa Rica’s Congress.


FECOP has asked the government to reject the bill, which would create the nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

“We (FECOP) are very much in favor of marine conservation and management of marine resources but we like it done correctly,” said Carlos Cavero, the FECOP President.

The proposed law would create a nearly 2,390-square-mile reserve.

The group sent a press release citing several reasons why it cannot support the bill, which are listed below:

• There wasn’t a complete technical study done consulting with Costa Ricans who would be affected, as required the law.

  • The area is larger than all other marine protected areas and encompasses areas already under protection. Proper analysis to make that change has not been completed, according to the group.

• There is no management plan or budget for proper control for an area that size effectively, which would make it only a “paper reserve.” Proponents are urging passage of the law with the management plan developed afterwards.

• The new law would change control of the area to another government agency, one that has not been so favorable to sport-fishing interests in the past.

• The proponents of this bill have used the FECOP name without authorization, making it appear that FECOP supported the bill and would be involved with management of the reserve. The affiliation continued even after FECOP requested it to stop.

• There are already procedures in place to create management areas. In 2015, 35 activities with 190 participants had workshops to create a Marine Area of Responsible Fishing. FECOP supports this procedure, which offers protection without changing control to another government agency.

A total of 10 groups represented by FECOP oppose the reserve and asked Costa Rica’s Congress to vote against it.

Courtesy FECOP

The FECOP listed its accomplishments at the end of the press release:

• Stopped the exportation of sailfish from the country in 2009

• Sponsored the Tuna Decree, which protected 120,000 square miles of territorial waters from tuna purse seiners in 2014

• Backed by scientific data, FECOP lobbied the government to reduce purse seine licenses from 43 to 13 in 2017, saving 25 metric ton of marlin that would have been bycatch as well as other pelagic species and marine mammals.

For more information about FECOP or the proposed law, contact info@fecop.org or visit the organization’s website.

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FECOP to Represent Costa Rica in Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation

FECOP Costa Rica SportfishingSportfishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries met in Cancun, Mexico in November for the inaugural assembly of the Panamerican Sportfishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sportfishing as a competitive sport and have a common front of on fisheries conservation. Goals are to have sportfishing placed in the Pan American Games and with cooperation from European countries, the long-term goal is to make sportfishing an Olympic sport. With golf, table tennis, and handball already Olympic sports and skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, and mixed gender competition introduced to the 2020 Games, it is time to introduce sportfishing to the event.

According to the Confederation International of Sport Fishing, (CIPS) founded in 1952 in Rome Italy with 50 million members from 77 countries, the America’s are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered for the Olympics. The America’s include all countries from North, Central and South America. The Federacion Costarricense de Pesca Turistica (FECOP) a Costa Rica non-profit which represents 8 Sportfishing Associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Club Amateur de Pesca was asked to represent Costa Rica in the Panamerican delegation. FECOP has been a pioneer in conservation in Costa Rica including, stopping the exportation of sailfish, sponsoring and supplying the science to protect over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial water from tuna purse sein boats in 2014. A reduction of tuna licenses sold to foreign fleets (43 down to 13) in 2017 saved 25 metric tons of marlin bycatch this year. “It is very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” exclaimed Carlos Cavero, President of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represent sport fishing interests. Costa Rica has so much to offer the sport fishing world and has many anglers with the skills to compete on an International level.”

Four Panamerican tournaments are scheduled in 2018 representing different types of sport fish. A largemouth bass event will be held on Lake Okeechobee, snook in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament at Isle Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala was also suggested as a possible location for a snook event. Costa Rica and FECOP will host the 2018 Panamerican Assembly next November followed by a 3-day International roosterfish tournament. Site has yet to be determined. Luis Garcia will head up the events with the following representatives in charge by species.

  • Largemouth bass, John Knight USA
  • Snook, Rolando Sias , Mexico
  • Offshore Big Game, Jose Espinoza, Mexico
  • Tarpon, Carlos Cavero, Henry Marin, Costa Rica
  • Roosterfish, Todd Staley, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is world famous for it’s Pacific side billfish action. Marina Pez Vela and Los Suenos host several world class events. FECOP was asked to pick a species accessible to many that offers anglers without big game skills a chance to do well and highlight the country’s fishery at the same time. Two species came to mind for a catch and release style tournament. All fish released will be marked with a spaghetti tag for scientific study. Roosterfish on the Pacific and tarpon on the Caribbean side of the country. FECOP decided to get a roosterfish tournament under it’s belt and add an International tarpon tournament in 2019. Of course, you can’t travel all the way to Mexico and not wet a line in the Gulf of Mexico. The group boarded the EL Patron not really feeling optimistic about catching. It was not yet quite the season for the big pelagics and the red small craft warning flags had been blowing in the breeze
the last couple of days. The bonita and small king mackerel were there to play. The breeze picked up and Ben Blegen, a tournament ice fisherman from Minnesota soon laid out a chum line of scrambled eggs, tortillas, and Mexican choriza. The color returned quickly when despite that awful queasy feeling he managed to land a mackerel over 30 lbs. Later while looking out at the turquoise waters at Puerto Morales, the Mexican’s put on a seafood feast of lobster, fresh mackerel and Mexican rice. Amazing how Ben’s appetite returned.

You can learn more about FECOP at www.fishcostarica.org

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Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the ‘dolphin breeding ground’ debacle

Why I sometimes hate conservation – or, the Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacle

The Dolphin Breeding Ground Debacledolphins deserve our protection, an ongoing petition regarding a new development is misleading, according to the author Todd Staley

Todd Staley FECOP

Todd Staley- Special Content Contributor

This fisherman is about to open a can of worms here for the second time.

The first time was when I agreed with a national legislator who suggested opening the National Parks to sport and small-scale artisanal fishing. Thirty-eight NGOs screamed, “No!” I suggested they open them and charge a fee to fish there to raise money for enforcement patrols, which were, and still, are nearly non-existent.

Here I go again, about to raise the hair on the backs of the necks of many in the environmental crowd. It started when a post hit my inbox with a petition sponsored by Planet Rehab.org on the Change.org website, which allows anyone in the world to start an online petition for free. This petition urged people to help stop a Hilton Curio hotel from being built in Puerto Jiménez, in the country’s Southern Zone.

The petition’s headline read, “Prevent Hilton from building a hotel on top of a Dolphin Breeding Ground.” The sub-headline that followed was a stern message to Hilton which read, “Hilton, we’re breaking up with you, so we can save the dolphins before it’s too late!” Over 50,000 people have signed the petition, and they appear to be gaining more signatures every day.

A very wise man once gave me some very sage advice when he told me, “Always put your cards on the table, because once they are on the table, they are off the table.” So here come my cards.

I am very well-versed on this subject. For the last 18 years I have walked the pier at Crocodile Bay as Fishing Director, sending thousands of tourists out sport fishing. The Crocodile Bay property is the site where the Hilton will be built. I also know the person behind the petition very well. After five decades on the water, I also know a little bit about dolphins.

If you think I am going to defend the Hilton project in this article, you will be sorely disappointed. The developers are big boys and can do that for themselves. Because I spend a lot time working with marine conservation and am employed by the developers, people often corner me looking for my opinion. I have never given an opinion pro or con; it’s not my place to defend the project. What I have defended against many times is fabricated statements from environmental zealots who prey on uninformed or uneducated people to support their opinion for whatever their cause is.

The Change.org petition states that the area in question is “essential for the reproduction of many marine species, potentially destroying endemic dolphin breeding grounds and putting all aquatic marine life in imminent danger.”

It continues, “This large-scale Hilton Hotel Botanika Resort can only be stopped by an urgent appeal to the directors of Hilton Curio Worldwide, alerting them to the potential damage their project will cause.”

The key word in both those statements is “potential.” It is a word that can be used as a giant loophole to cover one’s tail when making outlandish statements.

Maybe I could post a petition on Change.org to my own advantage. It would read something like this. “Todd Staley is a fisherman and mediocre writer. He has a couple of tattoos and on the weekends when it is not raining, he rides his Harley Davidson. Staley could potentially roust up a bunch of bikers and pillage your pueblo. Please donate today to buy him a new boat to keep him on the water and off the street.”

I slowly waded through many of the comments left by people who signed the Hilton petition. After I got through the vulgarities and the threats to never sleep in a Hilton again, I stumbled on some I really liked:

“Please verify the findings on marine biologists for the claim in this petition and look to relocate to a less fragile location.”

“This is unacceptable if these dolphins loose there breeding ground were would they Go, for all we know if would take them years or months to find a new place to breed and are dolphins would be more endanger then ever.”

“Apparently they ( Hilton) did not research this very well to even think about building on a Dolphin breeding ground.”

And my personal favorite, “Dolphins are people too.”

Why is that my favorite? Because “dolphins are people too” is a lot closer to the truth than anything else I read. After observing dolphins while fishing for over fifty years, I decided to ask some marine experts, “What exactly is a dolphin breeding ground?” I sought the opinion of a marine biologist, a marine mammal expert, and a woman who has worked alongside dolphins and whales here in Costa Rica for years.

They told me that reproductive habits of dolphins are not defined exclusively by the need to perpetuate the species: like humans, these cetaceans mate for pleasure with individuals of the opposite sex, of the same genus or even a different species from their own, so talking about reproductive habits in strict terms does not apply to dolphins. Some researchers think that their recreational sexuality has social purposes. When a female feels she will deliver her calf, she tends to move away from her pod and separates herself to an area near the water surface to facilitate the first breath of her calf. There is no particular area dolphins go to mate or birth.

There are no dolphin “no-tell motels” or maternity wards. They mate whenever and wherever they happen to be when the mood hits them, and birth wherever they are when the time comes. There is no such thing as a “dolphin breeding ground.”

If the people who posted that petition are really just concerned about dolphins, I suggest they push away their tuna salad and worry about the large pods of dolphins that are netted hundreds of times to catch the tuna that swim under them. The dolphins are later released. A few dolphins die in the process; I’m sure the dolphins don’t like it. Thankfully, there is a fast-growing trend and demand for sustainably caught fish, and tuna fishermen are beginning to search out selective gear with little or no bycatch.

Anger or fear are great motivators. But in this case, 50,000 people – and counting – have been misled.

I really love conservation work. The politics of conservation can at times be quite frustrating, and the business of conservation can be at times disgusting. NGOs will sometimes work on similar projects but never communicate with each other for fear of losing credit for a success or even potential donor money. If they communicated, they could get things done faster and more cheaply, but conservation and environmental work are sometimes big business. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people out there who will misuse donor money or even advertise for fake causes to raise money.

Sadly, this “dolphin breeding ground” petition, and the reaction to it, only fortifies an opinion I have held for some time. That is the difference between a conservationist and an environmentalist: a conservationist makes decisions based on science, while an environmentalist at times makes science based on decisions.

Read Todd Staley’s Wetline Costa Rica columns here.

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full time to marine conservation. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

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