Category: FECOP News

Commericial Tuna Boat

Can a Fish Bring a Country Together?

Three Billboards Outside San José, Costa Rica: Can fish bring a country together?

By Todd Staley for the Tico Times November 14, 2018

A tuna-fishing boat launching speed boats. (Courtesy FECOP)

If you are driving from Juan Santamaría International Airport toward San José, you will pass two sets of billboards. Lettered in Spanish, the signs translate to English as:

  1. There are foreign boats fishing illegally in Costa Rica
  2. They are taking our marine resources without permits
  3. Together we can change this… Find out how at fecop.org

[Editor’s note: The author of this story works as the communications director for FECOP, the Costa Rican Fishing Federation.]

The campaign billboards were modeled after the ones in the award-winning film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” The signs were designed to be simple but effective. It is estimated that more than 25 percent of all tuna fished by foreign purse seine boats in Costa Rican territorial waters goes unreported or is taken by vessels not licensed to fish in Costa Rica — resulting in zero benefit to the country.

In an interview on Monumental Radio, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy, denounced that the country loses millions of dollars in the illegal fishing of tuna. Thanks to the international licenses that the country provides for tuna fishing, this sector generates legal profits of $50 million and pays only $1.3 million for it. He went on to say if more tuna were available to Costa Rica fishermen, they would target tuna rather than engaging in controversial shark fishing.

Data collected by Amigos de la Isla del Coco Foundation (FAICO) during a study called “Characterization and analysis of industrial fishing pressure in the ACMC and the adjacent Exclusive Economic Zone” found that fishing vessels entered the prohibited areas for purse seining more than 130 times during the span of the study.

An analysis by Conservation International and the Coast Guard using satellite technology determined more than 100 vessels were involved in illicit activities in 2016-17.

The yearly average legal take from these boats had been around 25,000 tons of tuna. Of this, 9,000 tons goes to the cannery in Puntarenas and most of the rest never lands in Costa Rica. A study done by Federacion Costarricense de Pesca in 2013 showed Costa Rica only benefitted $37 a ton from tuna taken by foreign vessels. This brought about the first tuna reform in 2014, which moved the tuna boats offshore 45 miles and protected other important areas like the waters around Coco Island and a total of 200,000 square kilometers from purse seine fishing. In 2017, INCOPESCA, the governing board of fishing regulations in Costa Rica, reduced the number of legal licenses from 43 to 13 and this year put limits on the capture. But with very little oversight, illegal fishing activity is bound to increase.

To better understand all this one needs to understand all the pieces of the puzzle. Not all of them see eye-to-eye on many issues. Since this campaign was started by FECOP, we start first with:

Sport fishing

Sport fishing generates nearly $380 million for the Costa Rican economy and generates thousands of jobs for Costa Ricans. FECOP — which advocates for sport fishing as a sustainable business model as well as ocean management — represents many of them. A study recently conducted by Henry Marín, project manager for FECOP, showed that in a social-economic quality of life model study, Costa Ricans who work in sport fishing earned more than the average Costa Rican. Those who work in areas like Herradura and Quepos, where there has been a substantial investment in sport fishing infrastructure, have even higher incomes. There are also a good number of non-anglers who believe sport fishing is a senseless sport, where people torture animals for sport.

Commercial fishing

A tuna fishing vessel circles dolphins off the Osa Peninsula, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. Shawn Larkin/The Tico Times

This is another very important part of the Costa Rican economy that employs thousands in coastal communities. Costa Ricans consume a lot of fish and almost all the millions of tourists that come here each year want to experience fresh Costa Rican seafood. The exportation of fish products is also huge. Opponents complain about non-selective arts of fishing with a high incidental catch of non-targeted or over-exploited species.

Tuna purse seine fleet

Costa Rica does not have a purse seine vessel. The fleet consists of licenses sold to foreign-owned companies that capture tuna by circling a school with a net when closed captures everything inside. Opponents claim the bycatch — species caught other than tuna — include marlin, sailfish, dorado, wahoo, sharks, turtles and marine mammals. More than 50 different species have been documented as bycatch in the tuna fleet. By examining previous catch records, it is estimated the fleet reduction saved 25 tons of would have been marlin bycatch in 2017.

Cannery

The tuna cannery in Puntarenas is a major player in the local community. It employs well over 1,000 Costa Ricans and requires 9,000 tons of tuna annually to operate. Because the demand of sustainably caught “one by one” tuna is growing so fast, the cannery is forced to import pole- and line-caught fish from other countries to fill their orders.

Government

The government, including INCOPESCA, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Environment, the Coast Guard, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Legislative Assembly all have input in the fishing licenses, controls and enforcement. Some have been accused of favoring one sector over another or business over environment, or that they don’t have the budget to operate more efficiently.

NGOs

There are many non-governmental nonprofits headquartered in Costa Rica that specialize in marine conservation issues. Many have done great things in Costa Rica. At times, conservation is a competitive business. Organizations compete for donor contributions. Because of this, they don’t communicate well with each other. Many times, they are working on similar projects but for fear of losing donations or credit for successes — which turn into more donations — they don’t share information. If they did a little more, positive changes could come more rapidly on smaller budgets.

General public

Costa Rica is the most expensive country to live in in Central America. Many sectors have been on strike or protesting the proposed tax reforms since September 10. They are especially displeased with some tax breaks companies receive whose products manufactured in Costa Rica cost nearly double in Costa Rica as the same product sold by the same company in neighboring countries. Many feel it is unfair to give away Costa Rica’s resources to other countries with little benefit to the country while they are asked to pay higher taxes.

Tuna

Tuna are the most prized fish on the commercial market and have a much higher market value than other species. Many people do not know how most of the tuna captured in Costa Rica are caught. A large purse seine vessel cruises the ocean looking for obvious signs that tuna is present. This could be feeding birds, tuna feeding, giant pods of dolphins, or floating objects like tree trunks. Often these boats will place artificial floating objects, which are illegal to use in Costa Rica because they attract juvenile fish.

Dolphins

A lot of the tuna caught here are caught under dolphins. Dolphins and tuna have a symbiotic relationship and swim together — the dolphin on the surface and tuna below. They will use speed boats to corral the dolphins into the net. If you net the dolphin, you will also catch the tuna. In the past, up to 6 million dolphins perished in tuna boat nets until there was a public outcry.

Today boats fishing legally will lower one end of the net to release the dolphin. According to data, the mortality of dolphin is now around 1,000 annually using this method, but Sierra Goodman, founder and president of the Vida Marina Foundation in Drake Bay, on the northern Pacific side of the Osa Peninsula, believes the actual number of dolphin mortality is highly underreported. Goodman’s concern is that tuna companies that fish and net dolphins are labeling their product dolphin safe.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

“Ok, so this is my question: Are the dolphins still chased and encircled in the nets to get the tuna?” she asked. “Are dolphins involved in any way for tuna that is labeled dolphin-safe? Because any time free and wild dolphins are chased and entrapped, it is not dolphin-safe. I saw what happens in those nets. While I’m sure the lowering of nets helps with mortality, what about stress factors? We know that these tuna boats are out there for days in a row netting the same group of Costa Rican spinner dolphins.”

One question is whether the boats fishing illegally careful with dolphins. They have been witnessed throwing explosives from helicopters or speed boats to herd dolphin. And do they take the time to make sure the dolphin is released from the net carefully? I have never known a thief who sweeps up the glass after he has broken your window to enter your house.

Green Stick and pole & line

Green Stick is the common name for a piece of fishing equipment that was originally made from a long, green bamboo shoot that has a main line attached to a device that is designed to make a large splash on the water. It is trolled a couple hundred yards or more behind the fishing vessel. Off the main line, a half dozen or more lures are placed at intervals. This method has a 99 percent catch rate of tuna compared to catching species other than the targeted tuna.

Pole and line is basically done by chumming the water with live minnows to keep the tuna close in a feeding frenzy and catching them one a time, helping meet the growing demand for sustainably caught seafood — seafood caught without impacting the environment or other species. Green Sticks now made of fiberglass are nothing new. They have been used in Japan and in the Eastern United States for years. Innovating commercial fishermen like Robert Nunes has been using them some success in Costa Rican waters. After FECOP supplied the technical support to the government, INCOPESCA began issuing licenses to fish green sticks this year.

 

Adam Baske, Director of the Pole and Line Foundation based in the United Kingdom, recently visited Costa Rica and with FECOP staff met with long-line commercial fishermen in Puntarenas and Quepos to discuss the tuna industry and the market need for sustainably caught tuna. They heard the same from both groups. They explained that even though the sport fishermen are seeing a great increase in tuna catches since the Tuna Decree in 2014, there is still too much tuna being taken illegally or licensed to foreign vessels for them to successfully fish more selective gear and make a decent profit.

According to them, they would love it if they could. Tuna is a premium-value fish and would become the target species, taking pressure off sharks and billfish as bycatch in longline fishing. The incidental catch rate of other species would drop drastically. FECOP then met with six marine related NGOs to discuss the issue.

This writer has lived in Costa Rica worked in fishing going on 28 years and is a naturalized Costa Rican citizen. His wife is Tica, his kids are Tico and at many times feels as if he is at heart a Tico trapped in the body of a gringo. He has been here long enough to know if just one sector lobbies for change, nothing happens. When different sector joins on a common goal, change happens. The first tuna reform in 2014 is a good example of sport fisherman working together with longline fishermen. Giving tuna back to the Ticos would have a domino effect for all groups. Better income for struggling coastal communities, less bycatch of billfish, sharks, turtles, dolphin and other marine mammals. With more tuna available, the longliners could see the advantage of switching gear because the fish would be available to them and NGO’s protecting sharks, turtles and billfish would all benefit also.

It is not an easy task, but working together, it can be done. There is a petition to the government at www.fecop.org. The site is in English and Spanish; just click your preference.

Make An Impact – Sign Our “Tuna for Ticos” Petition to Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

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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Costa Rica offshore fishing

The Science of Offshore Fishing

Effective management of offshore fisheries helps pelagic species become hard-fighting machines

Rather than droning on about stock-assessment updates, I’d like to discuss what drives anglers to ensure that pelagic species like tuna, wahoo and billfish are properly managed. Hopefully most folks realize that these creatures need to be conserved because they have a natural role in pelagic ecosystems as top-level predators. Anglers, however, are likely to have their own reasons to make sure there is an ample supply of these critters.

All of the aforementioned species share similar characteristics that make them endearing to recreational anglers. Most are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, even beautiful, and a few grow to colossal sizes. Some, in the case of tunas and wahoo, make for some of the best table fare that the ocean can offer. But there is one defining feature that really makes anglers love these fish: They are high-performance animals that pull like hell on the end of the line. The thrill of a big tuna, wahoo or marlin effortlessly pulling drag from a reel is one that is hard to beat.

These species’ capacity for speed and stamina is derived from unique adaptations evolved over the millennia that are truly fascinating. Tunas, for example, have a muscular composition that sets them apart from the rest of the pack and makes them masters of both speed and stamina. Virtually all fish possess a combination of fast- and slow-twitch muscle. Fast-twitch, or white muscle, as the name implies, is designed for burst speed. However, its white appearance means that it is not highly vascularized. As a result, white muscle can fatigue quickly and doesn’t afford much in the way of stamina.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Slow-twitch muscle, which tuna have a lot of, is red because it is highly vascularized and well-­oxygenated, so it provides the necessary stamina for extended cruising — or in the case of a big tuna, thoroughly beating you up, whether you’re fighting one in the chair or standing up. The unique positioning of red muscle within white muscle, along with an amazing countercurrent vascular system, allows tunas such as bluefin the ability to generate and retain heat, so their body temperatures can be significantly higher than the surrounding ambient water temperatures. Keeping their eyes, brain and muscles warm gives these fish a performance edge in colder waters.

Pelagic species don’t lead ­sedentary lives; they derive oxygen from the water through ram ventilation, where the act of swimming actively moves water over their gills. As such, gill adaptations are critical for supplying oxygen to brain and muscle. Tunas have the largest gill surface area relative to size, with billfish, wahoo and the rest of the mackerels right behind with more surface area than virtually any other fish. Tuna’s individual gill filaments are also uniquely shaped to allow them to be tightly packed without collapsing during high-speed swimming to maximize surface area and oxygen exchange.

More Conservation News

Billfish possess unique spinal ­adaptations that benefit their energetic lifestyle and acrobatic tendencies. They have highly modified neural and hemal spines that overlap the ­intervertebral joints and interlock with fibrous connective tissues. This particular vertebral morphology is thought to act like a spring, which transmits force and power to the tail. These spinal adaptations are also thought to guard against shearing and compression of the intervertebral joints during bending, which also might explain how marlin can display such wild acrobatic gyrations without throwing out their backs.

This is just a brief glimpse into what makes these species some of the world’s most supremely engineered fish. The adaptations make them the game fish that they are, but it’s important to note that it can take millions of years of evolution to gain these refinements. That is why it is critical that we do all we can to ensure that these species are properly managed and conserved.

Article from Marlin Magazine

http://fishcostarica.org/marlin-sailfish-sat-tag/
http://fishcostarica.org/fecop-tips-how-to-handle-sailfish-and-marlin/
http://fishcostarica.org/fishing-species-pacific-blue-marlin/
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Three Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Three Billboards Outside San José, Costa Rica: Can a fish bring a country together

Published by Sport Fishing Magazine Online Edition

 

 

Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

These billboards, modeled after the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, now appear prominently along the highway connecting Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, with the international airport. The first says, “There are foreign boats fishing illegally in Costa Rica.”

If you are driving from the airport towards San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, you will pass two simple sets of three billboards each. Lettered in Spanish the signs basically translate into English as:

1. There are foreign boats fishing illegally in Costa Rica
2. They are taking our marine resources without permits
3. Together we can change this… Find out how at fecop.org

The campaign billboards were modeled after the ones depicted in the award-winning film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.” Designed to be a simple yet effective message, it is estimated that more than 25 percent of all tuna taken by foreign purse seine boats in Costa Rican territorial waters goes unreported or is harvested by vessels not licensed to fish in Costa Rica with zero benefit to the country.

tuna for ticos

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Minister of Environment and Energy, says that the country loses mil-lions of dollars in the illegal fishing of tuna. According to the minister, of the total $50 million generated by the sale of licenses to foreign purse seiners, the country only receives $1.3 million. An estimated $12 million more is un-documented. Through an analysis done by Conservation International and the Coast Guard using satellite technology, it was determined more than 100 vessels in 2016-2017 were involved in illicit activities.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

The yearly average legal take from these boats had been around 25,000 tons of tuna a year. Of this 9,000 tons goes to the cannery in Puntarenas and most of the rest never lands in Costa Rica. A study done by Federacion Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP) in 2013 showed Costa Rica only earned $37 a ton from tuna taken by foreign vessels. This triggered the first tuna reform legislation in 2014, which moved the tuna fleet 45 miles offshore and protected other important areas like the waters around Coco Island and a total of 200,000 square kilometers from purse seine fishing. In 2017 INCOPESCA, the governing board of fishing regulations in Costa Rica, reduced the number of legal licenses from 43 down to 13 and this year put limits on the overall harvest. The problem is with very little enforcement and control, the illegal fishing activity is bound to increase. The initial tuna harvest rules were enacted after sport and commercial fishermen set aside their differences and worked together to accomplish shared goals.

FECOP staff recently met with commercial longliners in Puntarenas and Quepos to discuss the tuna industry and the market need for sustainably caught tuna. Sport fishermen are seeing noticeable increases in tuna catches in the protected 45-mile zone since the Tuna Decree went into effect in 2014. The amount of tuna being taken illegally or by foreign vessels remains a deterrent for li-censed local commercial fishermen to switch to more selective gear like “green sticks,” or pole and line which have nearly zero bycatch and still make a reasonable profit.

The longliners are receptive to using sustainable gear if it’s economically feasible. Tuna is a premium value species and if they were targeted selectively, it would take pressure off sharks and bill-fish as bycatch in longline fishery. The incidental catch rate of other species would drop drastically.

FECOP also met with several marine-related non-government organizations to discuss the issue of sustainable fishing.

Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

More than 25 percent of all tuna taken by foreign purse-seine boats in Costa Rica waters goes unreported, with zero benefit to the country.

Tourist Sport Fishing
The recreational sport-fishing industry generates $380 million or more for the Costa Rican economy annually and supports thousands of jobs for locals. Critics claim sport fishing is a senseless sport and a form of cruelty to animals.

Commercial Fishing
Commercial harvest is also a multi-million dollar industry and the life blood of coastal communities. Critics claim the high rate of bycatch in certain types of fisheries is unsustainable and damages the environment.

NGOs
There are many non-governmental non-profits headquartered in Costa Rica that specialize in marine conservation issues. Many have an accomplished track record. But conservation is a competitive business as organizations compete for limited donor contributions. Because of this, communication between the groups is often lacking. Many times groups are working on similar projects but don’t share information for fear of losing donations or credit for successes (which is parlayed into more donations). If communication among the groups was more common, positive changes could come more rapidly on smaller budgets.

General Public
Costa Rica has the highest cost of living in Central America. Many sectors have been on strike or protesting the proposed new tax reform for the past month. Critics are upset with tax breaks companies receive whose products manufactured in Costa Rica cost nearly double domestically as the same product sold by the same company in neighboring countries. Many feel it is unfair to give away Costa Rica’s resources to other nations with little benefit while its citizens are asked to pay higher taxes.

Billboards Warn of Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Many marine mammals are killed as bycatch in these illegal fisheries.

Tuna Canning Industry
The tuna cannery in Puntarenas employs more than 1,000 local workers and processes 9,000 tons of tuna annually. Because of the high demand of sustainably captured seafood products, the cannery is forced to import tuna harvested with sustainable gear from other countries to meet the demand.

Tuna and Dolphin
The fish and the mammals have a symbiotic relationship and swim together in the ocean. Most nets set by purse seiners are made over dolphins on the surface. Historically over 6 million dolphins perished with this method. By today’s standards, after the set one end of the net is lowered for the dolphins to escape to qualify for the “Dolphin Safe” label. The estimate of dolphin mortality is still around 1,000 a year in the tuna industry. Critics say the repeated netting of the same pods of dolphins should not qualify for the dolphin safe sticker on cans of tuna.

Critics also question whether boats fishing illegally are careful about dolphin welfare. Boats have been observed throwing explosives from helicopters or speed boats to herd the dolphin into the nets. There are also questions about how carefully the dolphins are released.

The goal is to bring all these various interest groups together to make more tuna available to benefit Costa Rican fishermen and the country’s economy. An increase in sustainable harvest would have a domino effect. With more tuna available there would be less bycatch of sharks, billfish, turtles and marine mammals, plus better economic conditions for struggling coastal communities.

The billboard campaign directs viewers to the FECOP website, www.fecop.org. A link on the site leads to a petition urging decision-makers to support more responsible ocean management and fair-ness for the people of Costa Rica.

Help FECOP Make an Impact – Sign the Tuna for Ticos 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.

 

FECOP Featured On Channel 7 – Tuna for Ticos

 

 

 

 

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Costa Rica Roosterfish Tournament

1st Roosterfish Tournament Nears

Costa Rica’s Famous Roosterfish Finally Gets its’ Own Tournament!

Costa Rica’s 1st International Tournament Set to Kickoff November 16th, 2018 ( Enter Here ) at Crocodile Bay Resort in Costa Rica’s South Pacific.

Costa Rica really hit the jackpot when it comes to sportfishing. From the river mouths to the bluewaters and way inland, the country is bursting with monster gamefish. But of all the fish out there, it’s the Roosterfish Costa Rica anglers are really proud of.

Funny, then, that there’s no Roosterfish tournament in Costa Rica. But now there is. On November 16 this year, Golfo Dulce’s Crocodile Bay Resort will kick off the first International Roosterfish Tournament. Teams will travel from the US, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and of course, Costa Rica itself to take part.

Man in a white shirt holding a large Roosterfish
Roosterfish are a species well worth traveling for.

Who is organizing the event? Why Costa Rica? What can we expect in years to come? We got in touch with some of the organizers to find out. From what we heard, it sounds like the teams are in for a treat!

What’s the Big Deal with Roosterfish?

Roosterfish are one of those species that can get you hooked from the first time you see them. They’re unlike anything else out there. Their wild mohawk and blue shimmer scream for a camera. Try catching one, and it’s the reel that starts screaming.

Roosterfish fight hard and don’t give in easy. The way they move is erratic, bordering on berserk. They have enough power to break your line and burn your drag if you’re not careful. They’re made even more interesting by the fact that you can’t catch them in the US. It’s easy to see why some anglers spend their lives chasing Roosters around Central America.

You can catch Roosterfish all the way from the north of Mexico to the south of Peru, but very few fisheries compare to Costa Rica. Sure, Baja might have the world record, but Costa Rica has some real monsters, too. And that’s just part of what makes the area unique.

Angler in a blue shirt holding up a Roosterfish in front of his face
Whatever the size, Roosterfish have some real star appeal.

Why Golfo Dulce?

We catch Roosters everywhere here” – says tournament organizer Todd Staley – “We catch them on the reefs. We’ve caught them in over 200 feet. We’ve caught them in the middle of the gulf away from the shoreline.”

This will come as a surprise to anyone who has tried Roosterfishing farther north. In Mexico, Roosters are only really caught along the surf line. Most anglers wouldn’t think of targeting them in more than a couple of fathoms of water. Not so in Costa Rica, clearly.

The fish don’t lack for size, either. According to Beau Williams, Crocodile Bay’s General Manager, Roosters can hit 100 pounds or more in Golfo Dulce. Sure, these aren’t your everyday catch, but on any given week they pull in plenty of fish in the 40-60 lb range.

What draws Roosterfish to the gulf? Several things, says Williams. “It generates an abundance of bait fish that Roosters prefer – sardines, mullet, goggle-eyes, blue runners, moonfish, and bonita.” He also points to the mix of sandy beaches and volcanic rock outcroppings. This all adds up to year-round Roosters. Sure sounds like a good place for a Roosterfish tournament.

View across Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica with mountains in the distance
To be fair, we would also live here year-round if we could.

The PanAmerican Delegation: Big Fish, Big Dreams

So who exactly is organizing the tournament? The people behind the event are the PanAmerican Sportfishing Delegation. They organize tournaments all across the Americas. They have two Bass tournaments, a Snook Tournament, and as of this year, a Roosterfish Tournament.

The Delegation’s aim is to get sportfishing recognized in the Pan American Games. Eventually, they even want to see it in the Olympics. For now, though, they’re happy putting on tournaments and building friendships through fishing. That’s exactly what they’re doing in Costa Rica.

The PanAm Delegation has partnered with FECOP, a Costa Rican non-profit which focuses on protecting the country’s fisheries. This is where Staley came in. He has worked with FECOP since it was first created in 2008. He also worked at Crocodile Bay for the best part of 20 years. This made him the perfect man to help set up the event.

Staley brought the tournament committee to Golfo Dulce and showed them around several resorts in the area. Crocodile Bay came out the clear winner because of its size and easy access to Puerto Jimenez Airport. It also has a large fleet of well-maintained, near-identical boats. This gives each team the same chance of landing a winner.

Angler holding a Roosterfish on a boat with water in the background.
Catching Roosterfish is tough enough without having to worry about the boat.

The committee found the spot for their tournament. It was time to get the teams together. It didn’t take long for the word to spread. A dozen teams from five countries signed up and will be heading down to Crocodile Bay in search of the biggest Roosterfish Costa Rica has to offer.

Catching Roosterfish Costa Rica-Style

One of the many things that makes Costa Rica great is the country’s dedication to responsible fishing. Billfish and Roosterfish are catch-and-release only and circle hooks are the norm on most boats. Local groups like FECOP work hard to keep the fishing sustainable, especially during tournaments.

In keeping with this, the PanAmerican Roosterfish Tournament is entirely catch-and-release. The fish won’t even be weighed. As Staley explains, “we’re not weighing the fish because they have to be out of the water and it’s too much of a strain on them.” Instead, teams will measure each Rooster they catch and submit their top ten every day. The healthiest fish will also be tagged to help scientific study into their movements.

A Roosterfish ready to swim off and fight another day.

How will the teams be fishing? That’s up to them. Tournament rules say up to 30lb line and no treble-hooks with natural baits, but other than that, anything goes. We asked Staley for some of his top tips for bringing in big Roosters and he gave some sound advice:

Here’s my analogy of a Roosterfish: They’re dumb as a rock to a live bait. You can fool them with a popper, or a jig, or an artificial. No-one’s found the holy grail yet on the fly. Fish all the columns of water – don’t just concentrate on the surf or the surface. Try it deep, try it on the surface – they’re gonna be someplace.”

A Big Deal Locally?

It sounds like everyone involved is going to have a blast, but what does it mean to the town? Many tournaments pass the local community by, especially when they’re organized from abroad. Williams says that isn’t the case here, though.

“The locals in this area are extremely excited to have an international tournament,” he says, explaining how the tournament trail has largely missed the south of the country. “While many experienced captains in our area have also fished professionally in Quepos for their Billfish tournaments, they are very excited to get Puerto Jimenez on the map.”

Staley also says that Golfo Dulce’s Rooster fishery doesn’t get the attention it deserves. That’s part of the reason for the tournament: “There’s plenty of other Sailfish, Marlin, and Dorado tournaments in the country,” he says, “Nobody’s really doing an all-Roosterfish tournament.”

a Roosterfish underwater with the hull of a boat behind it
This is definitely a fish that deserves its own tournament.

So how involved is the local community? Not hugely, at least for this year. Staley is sticking to his golden rule of “keep it simple, stupid.” This is the tournament’s first year, after all.

That’s not to say they’re not involved at all. There will be a presentation by the head of the local fish board and a performance put on by the local school. The captains and crews will also be from the area, but the Costa Rican teams won’t – it would be a little unfair if some teams were fishing their own backyard, we guess.

What’s next?

“The Pan-American Delegation was formed less than 2 years ago.” Explains Staley. “It’s in its infancy but hopefully it will take off.” He says that organizations in Europe have had a lot longer to get going and that the PanAm is still catching up. If that’s the case, they’re catching up fast. They already have four tournaments in three countries, fishing both saltwater and freshwater.

This is the first PanAmerican tournament held in Costa Rica, but it won’t be the last. If everything goes well, we could also see a Tarpon tournament sometime next year. The delegation is a long way from their Oolympic dreams, but they’re making a solid start.

November 14-19, almost 50 competitors will comb the Golfo Dulce on a dream Costa Rica Roosterfish adventure. They will put back all the fish and take away prizes for their countries instead. If nothing else, it sounds like great fun. We’re hoping for even more, though: more tournaments, more fishing friendships, and eventually, maybe even angling Olympians.

Have you ever caught a Roosterfish? Ever visited Golfo Dulce? We’d love to hear your experiences, so let us know in the comments below!

Article Courtesy www.fishingbooker.com

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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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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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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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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!

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3 Costa Rican Teams to Participate in Black Bass World Fishing Tournament

Three Costa Rican teams will participate in the Black Bass World Tournament, in Nuevo León, Mexico from October 29 to November 4.

Black-bass is a well-known fish in the sport fishing sector. Its scientific name is Micropterus salmoides and is popularly known as perch, blasblas or – in Costa Rica – black bass.

The 3 teams are represented by the Costa Rican Fisheries Federation (Fecop). This organization reported that Costa Rica will compete with representations from Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Russia, Korea, Mexico, the United States, Canada, Venezuela, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Panama.

Carlos Cavero, competitor and president of the Fecop, pointed out that for a tico sport fisherman, this type of fishing that will take place in the tournament is “a dream”.

“It is the sigh for what was out of our hands, at least until December 2017, the year Fecop became part of the Pan-American Sports Fishing Delegation and in February 2018 we had the opportunity to compete to Florida, with the best in that country, “said Cavero.

On that occasion 8 months ago, the Ticos won the bronze, after competing with Mexico and Canada, countries traditionally fishermen of bass. The patriotic teams will participate in pairs:

 Luis Gima Monge and Mauricio Monge
Alberto Gutiérrez and Edgar Cruz
Carlos Cavero and Jorge Narvaez

“We are going to represent Costa Rica in a global feat, in the sport that we like, against 15 federated countries around the world. This must be the most exciting thing that has happened to us. We go with everything, although we do not have Lobinas in Costa Rica, we know how to fish, “said Cavero.

The event will be at El Cuchillo Lake, which has an area of ​​18,000 hectares (180 square kilometers). The site is located in the municipality of China, state of Nuevo León, northeast of Mexico.

In that lake live black bass or black bass, with sizes called “trophy”. Fecop said that in 2009 he broke the record of the FIPSed World Championship, 6,060 kg. of the fish specimen (Fédération Internationale de la Pêche Sportive, based in Rome).

“I am sure that the athletes of each participating nation, united with the directors, coaches and juries, will enjoy, appreciate the world famous Mexican hospitality,” said Luis Miguel Garcia, president of the A.C de Mexico Sports Fishing Federation.

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