Rethinking Our Oceans: Investing In The Blue Economy
Our oceans are in the worst state they have ever been. The sea is choked with plastic and heavy metals that are killing wildlife and destroying fisheries. We live on a blue planet, and the oceans contain 99% of available ecological space on Earth. Our atmosphere and the climate rely on the oceans, which has absorbed 50% of the greenhouse gases emitted by humans. But our oceans can also provide an opportunity for prosperity.
The “blue economy” is a radical approach to rethinking the way we interact with our oceans. Small island nations such as Seychelles are pioneering this approach to see the oceans as a resource that can generate wealth while simultaneously improving ecosystem health. By giving the oceans greater value, local people are encouraged to preserve them for future generations.
What Is The Blue Economy?
Ocean health is key to the blue economy. The concept involves sustainable management of oceans for now and future generations. Healthy seas are key not only for the health of our environment, but also to accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and fight poverty. Recognizing the great potential of the blue economy, world leaders and scientists united for strategic talks about the future of our oceans at the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2018. The world can improve the health of the oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers and ecosystems they support which are under increased threats and decline across the globe.
At its core, the blue economy sets a framework for the international community to actively work on conserving its ocean resources and develop more sustainable habits to protect ocean ecosystems. The blue economy is a source of economic growth – not just a way to protect the environment but also a source of food, jobs, and water. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that if the ocean were a country, it would have the seventh largest economy in the world. Because over 3 billion people around the world rely on the biodiversity of our world’s oceans and seas for their livelihood, nations must work together to protect these important natural resources for generations to come.
The United Nations has recognized the importance of the blue economy and its important role in a sustainable future for the world’s oceans. Sustainable Development Goal 14, aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.” The UN seeks to prevent and reduce marine pollution of all types by 2025, and sustainably manage, conserve, protect, and restore coastal and marine ecosystems over the next 5 to 10 years. In addition, the SDG 14 aims to conduct greater scientific research into ocean health and marine biodiversity, particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs). The inclusion of oceans as an SDG is a signal to help small island developing countries thrive economically from the sustainable use of marine resources, driving tourism and better fisheries management.
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The blue economy is particularly important for the fiscal well-being of SIDS. In small island nations such as Palau and Seychelles, marine-based tourism represents over half of export earnings, and fisheries can represent anywhere from 10% to 50% of these nations’ GDP. Sustainable fishing practices coupled with environmental conservation efforts can ensure that the coastal natural resources utilized so heavily by these nations can continue to exist for centuries to come.
Palau and Seychelles: Leaders In The Blue Economy
Small island nations which benefit economically from the world’s oceans have pioneered the blue economy approach to utilize the oceans as a resource to improve their nations’ wealth while preserving the health of our great oceans. SIDS, as well as other coastal states, have a huge opportunity with the blue economy to give positive economic benefits for citizens alongside improved environmental protection, Palau and Seychelles are two island countries which serve as excellent case studies for the blue economy.
Seychelles Ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Jumeau, pointed out the importance of rethinking the relationship with the oceans. He said, “The blue economy allows countries like Seychelles to put oceans at the center of our finances. We are not a small island state – we are a large ocean nation! ”
The Seychelles is one of the world’s premier biodiversity hotspots and, as a global leader in sustainable ocean use, represents another blue economy success story – undertaking a transition to sustainable ocean management. More eco-friendly fishing activity in Seychelles will diversify the small island nation’s economy, create high-value jobs, improve food availability and security for the small nation, and sustainably manage and protect the nation’s oceanic resources. The islands also launched the world’s first Sovereign Blue Bond, demonstrating the potential for countries to harness capital to obtain finance for the sustainable use of marine resources.
Meanwhile in the Pacific Ocean nation of Palau, which is comprised of over 250 islands with a cumulative 1519 km of coastline, an equally ambitious undertaking is happening.. Known around the world for its commitment to conservation of the oceans and wildlife, Palau has designated nearly 80% of its territorial waters as a marine sanctuary. Diving is the main tourist attraction in this nation, and Palau’s tourism board has sought to make tourism more sustainable by working on bringing more ‘high-value’ travelers to their small island country. By focusing their tourism efforts on marketing to smaller numbers of high-paying tourists, Palau has aimed to reduce the stress on the marine areas. Palau’s tourism board has also focused on more sustainable tourism activities, such as bird watching and sports fishing, as well as local cultural activities. The nation also became the first nation to enforce a pledge on all visitors to act in an ecologically responsible way.
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The blue economy can provide a model for us to rethink how we preserve and sustain and improve our biodiverse ocean resources for future generations. While small island nations have much to gain from the blue economy, the worldwide importance of a healthy ocean ecosystem cannot be overstated and urgent action must be made by all countries for its protection.
Costa Rica Fishing – Deep Jigging Costa Rica Oddities
Article from Florida Fishing Weekly
“Jigging the depths of Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce brings returns of grouper, snapper, African pompano…as well as a host of other strange-looking fish. Better yet, it’s within sight of shore”
This is the time of year the rain forest shows its stuff on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. More than 20 percent of the annual rainfall comes in October. The Papagayo winds in Nicaragua have yet to blow, but when they do some time this month, the sailfish population will push to the South. Until the main body of sailfish arrive, marlin and dorado will be the primary targets for offshore anglers looking to troll. Anyone that fishes for marlin knows the Pacific is a big ocean, and locating fish is a matter of covering water and eliminating options. That means anglers have two choices; go hunting (for marlin) or go fishing (for other species). A patient angler will generally get his marlin. It might be like sitting in a tree stand all day waiting for that one big buck to walk by, but patience is typically rewarded in Costa Rica. And odds favor that the marlin will be substantial.
For those that aren’t up for the hunt, they might want to go fishing instead. What I mean by that is, if action is more important than trophy, stay closer to shore this time of year and get in on the terrific bottom fishing.
Thirty years ago when I was dropping baits for grouper in the Middle Grounds off the West Coast of Florida, if someone told me one day I would be jigging with a fairly light spinning rod in 400 feet of water for grouper and snapper, I would have thought they were crazy. And if they told me I could see people walking on the beach while I was doing it, I’d have called for the straight jacket. But that’s exactly what you can expect in southern Costa Rica. Bottom fishing in Costa Rica doesn’t mean a run offshore. To the contrary, a mile offshore will put you in water deeper than you care to fish almost anywhere on the Pacific side. Fortunately, I live on one of four tropical fjords in the world. The depth of the entrance to the 30-mile long Golfo Dulce is around 150 feet. It then gets deeper the farther up the bay you go and has a hole up at the end of the bay that drops to 900 feet. Here as in many parts of the world, deep jigging has become one of the most successful ways to fool deepwater predators. There is a reason the military puts jigs in survival kits, that’s because almost anything that swims will eat one.
Costa Rica´s volcanic terrain runs not only to the coast, but also forms some very interesting structures underwater as well. And the deeper you go, the more the menu changes. Cory Craig from Tropic Fins charters is a guy who came down to Costa Rica on a fishing vacation, and within a couple years was building a house and charter business at the same time. He has studied the inshore fishing well and is not afraid to try new methods. When Craig’s charter landed a 60-plus pound roosterfish using a moonfish for bait, live moonfish became the hot offering, and everyone switched over to targeting roosterfish with these baits. Now Craig has taken his progressive methods into the bottom fishing realm. As far as deep jigging goes, the first hundred feet or so of water bring a variety of snappers, including the famous cubera, African pompano, broomtail grouper, roosterfish, amberjack, bonito and tuna. That’s a large variety of hard-fighting and good-eating fish that can be caught within sight of shore.
Dropping deeper than 150 feet of water is like venturing in the twilight zone, where there’s the potential to bring up fish you have never seen before. The Pacific red snapper is a good example of a species that won’t be found in less than 200 feet of water, and like the American red snapper, this fish is great table fare. Gulf Coney, a strange but tasty grouper, will hit a jig in 400 feet of water. There are other grouper-type fishes that I have no idea what they are, and can’t find them in books, but we catch them on a regular basis when deep dropping. Tilefish, rose threadfin bass and congria are other weird members of the deep-water clan that make the trip back to the dock and the dinner table.
All this great deep dropping action happens inside the Golfo Dulce, a short run from the dock, so if the offshore seas are rough or you want to break up a week of marlin fishing and change out to a
more action oriented trip, you just have to shorten the distance of your excursion. Depending on weather, your decision to opt for action or a short at a trophy, and your patience level, this time of year make the choice: Do you want to go hunting or fishing. In the Southern Pacific peninsula of Costa Rica, we can offer both.
Todd Staley has spent the last 18 years in the sport fishing business in Costa Rica, running fishing
operations on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.
Why a Costa Rica Sailfish is Worth More Alive than Dead
Article courtesy www.larepublica.net
A study carried out by the Research Institute of Economic Sciences of the UCR, reports that in 2008 Costa Rica sport fishing as an economic activity contributed approximately $ 599.1 million, which represents 2.13% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of our country (2008).
Another study by Southwick Associates Inc. estimated that “271,200 United States residents fished in Costa Rica” during 2009. Of those 271,200 Americans, 40% said they would not visit Costa Rica if they had not been able to fish. This means that in 2009, Costa Rica would have received 110,690 fewer visitors, which represents a loss of $ 128.7 million.
Fortunately, ten years later, Costa Rica continues to be a world-renowned sport fishing destination. However, our ability to retain this tourist segment is at risk due to mismanagement of species of sporting interest, such as sailfish, tuna and marlin.
This risk forces us to know in depth the contributions related to our economy of sport fishing and commercial fishing because both seek to extract the same species.
Therefore, it is necessary to reiterate the need for a strategy of integral management of species such as sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) and blue marlin (Makaira Mazara) that seeks to maximize the creation of socio-economic value through the conservation of the fishing resource and the sustainable development.
For example, one day of sport fishing aboard a Costa Rican boat generates about $ 1,000, while one kilo of retail sailfish only around 1,776.6 colones (about $4). A good day of sport fishing consists of 10 sailfish caught and released alive, while a good day of commercial fishing consists of extracting these same sailfish to be sold at a very low commercial value.
The sport fishing sector provides formal and stable jobs, generates commercial clusters that benefit entire communities such as Herradura, Quepos, Golfito and Papagayo. Courtesy / La Republica
The sport fishing sector provides formal and stable jobs, generates commercial clusters that benefit entire communities such as Herradura, Quepos, Golfito and Papagayo, and additionally guarantees the conservation of species of tourist interest. Its tradition of capture and release has high survival rates, and the technical advances in the tools used in the capture have allowed to reduce the damage of these species to a minimum.
That is to say, the sport fishing is a sustainable model that includes the three fundamental axes: society, environment and economy.
In general terms, it is evident that the effect on employment and the economy is greater in the case of sport fishing than in commercial fishing and requires strategic attention.
Even, there is a great opportunity in this sector that we have not taken advantage of. Currently we only attract 3.6% of the fishing tourist population of the United States, while other countries such as Mexico manage to attract more than three times, thus generating profits well above ours.
It is clear that we must strengthen and develop the sector in such a way that we are able to attract more numbers of sports fishermen.
In conclusion, it is necessary that the commercial fishing sector and the sport fishing sector be complementary in order to maximize the opportunity of creating socioeconomic value for the country.
We can not risk losing the many benefits of of sports fishing tourism to Costa Rica
For Costa Rica, the opportunity is magnificent.
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From Coastal Angler Magazine: Costa Rica Edition – FECOP’s Director of Science Appointed to Head INCOPESCA
What is surely a loss for FECOP is a gain for Costa Rica. President Carlos Alvarado picked Moises Mug to head the fisheries department of the country for the next four years. Mug is a Fishery biologist with 32 years of professional experience in sustainable fisheries, and ocean conservation and development.
His experience includes high-level policy work and advice, strategic planning and implementation of complex fishery programs, teaching and research. For the last 15 years, he has worked in international fisheries focusing on several aspects of oceanic fisheries including policy, governance, capacity building, markets and livelihoods, and sustainable finance. He holds a Master’s degree in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University (OSU) in a joint program with The University of Washington (UW). Fulbright – LASPAU scholar (1990-1993). Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Stakeholder Council Member (2015 to present). He grew up in Limon, where he worked in his father’s store and surf cast for snook in his free time as a youngster.
Best known lately for his research working on the “Tuna Decree” created in 2014, protecting a total of over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial waters from tuna purse sein operations including moving tuna boats out 45 miles from the coast to eliminate conflicts with both Costa Rican commercial and sport fishing fleets. In 2017 his researched convinced the government to reduce tuna licenses issued to foreign fleets from 43 to 13. According to observer on-board catch records, this saved 25 metric tons of what would have been marlin by-catch as wells as dorado, wahoo, sailfish, turtles, sharks and marine mammals.
Mug has also been spearheading a co-project with INA (Costa Rica’s technical institute), INCOPESCA and FECOP, supplying technical and scientific support for the “greenstick” project, a method of fishing tuna with almost zero bycatch.
One thing is for certain, INCOPESCA now has a leader who truly understands fisheries management, understands the value of sport fishing to Costa Rica and the number jobs it supplies to Costa Ricans, and the contribution sport fishing is to tourism. Best of luck Mr. Mug, and Congratulations
PanAmerican Picks Costa Rica for First International Roosterfish Tournament
Luis Miguel Garcia, president of the Mexican Sport Fishing Federation and Ben Blegen and Sean Warner from USA Angling, all board members of the PanAmerican Delegation recently visited Costa Rica in search of a place to hold the First International Roosterfish Tournament. The PanAmerican Delegation is made up of anglers from North, Central and South America. FECOP represents Costa Rica in the Delegation. The goal is to one day include sport fishing in the Pan American Games and eventually make it an Olympic sport.
“We chose the southern zone because of the vast area of inshore fishing, and looked at some beautiful properties including Casa Roland in Golfito, Gofito Marina Village, Zancudo Lodge and Crocodile Bay Resort,” commented Blegen, head of USA Predator Fishing team. “It being the first tournament and not being exactly sure of the participation, we think we will have between 20 and 30 four-person teams to fish the event. Logistically it made more sense to use Crocodile Bay Resort, Costa Rica to host but we will most likely be using boats from other operations as well.” Costa de Mar sunglases has already committed to sponsor two women’s teams. Private boats can also fish the tournament.
The tournament is scheduled November 16 to the 19th. For more details contact BenBlegen@USAPreatorTeam.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
FECOP Kicks Off Social-Economic Study
Henry Marin, FECOP’s project manager is looking for all captains, mates, and boat owners to help demonstrate the impact of sport fishing on local communities and Costa Rica as a whole. A study done in 2009 estimated sport fishing added $600 million to the Costa Rican economy but those numbers have been challenged on several levels.
Marin wants to show the value in eight different coastal communities, as well as the entire country. He has chosen Golfito, Puerto Jiménez, Quepos, Jacó-Herradura, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playas del Coco and Barra del Colorado. That way he can show the effect on the livelihood in each coastal region separately.
His methodology is to focus on captains, mates and boat owners and will measure five big areas: Social, economic, financial, environment and governance characteristics around that population.
FECOP will use this information to show the government, local and national authorities, other non-profit organizations, civil organizations and general public; the importance of sportfishing to Costa Rica in two levels, macro and mico economically.
This information will show how different families and communities around the country are being included in the dynamics of sportfishing and how they are being impacted.
Local goverments of Quepos, Garabito and Santa Cruz are being involved in the process and CANATUR, as part of the tourism industry.
If interested on being part of the research and helping demonstrate the value of sport fishing in your community, please contact Henry Marin at email@example.com. This email should include phone number and if possible the contacts of others working in the industry who could also take the survey. You can also leave you name and number at the FECOP office, telephone 2291-9150. If you are an owner please encourage your crews to participate.
FECOP staff will be calling to apply the surveys. All personal information is confidential and will be used only for research. Marin will give all participates a fishing cap in appreciation for taking the survey.
Todd Staley has managed sportfishing operations in Costa Rica for 25 years. He has been involved with FECOP since its inception and is former President of the group and was co-recipient of IGFA’s Chester H. Wolfe award in 2015 for his conservation efforts in Costa Rica. He is currently Fishing Columnist for the Tico Times and works full-time with FECOP as Director of Communications. Contact Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tagging Roosterfish with Gray Fish-Tag by Todd Staley
I have never enjoyed fishing under pressure. I prefer to fish for fun. There was a time in my life I fished a few money tournaments and even won one or two. Nowadays, if I am fishing a tournament, it’s a charity event, where the winners are generally children with illnesses.
Even when fishing a client, I like to fish with someone who was more interested in having a good time on the water rather than catching a ton of fish or a giant fish. A much better fisherman than myself who actually was just inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame explained it very simply to me. Larry Dahlberg said, “Your chances of catching a really nice fish is directly related to how much you deserve it.”
I have noticed over the years that a good attitude catches fish and a bad attitude eats dirt. One’s relationship with the fish gods play a big part. Inexperienced anglers with good mojo have better luck than a good angler with a bad attitude.
On this particular day, the pressure was on. Gray Fish-Tag research center coordinator Bill Dobbelaer and marine scientist Travis Moore were down from Ft. Lauderdale to place another archival electronic tag in a roosterfish. Usually this would be a simple task, today was different. An ominous gray sky loomed on the horizon and the breeze was much stronger than usual for an early morning. We needed a fish around 30 lbs so it could comfortably wear the device that needed to be implanted.
The event was co-sponsored by Crocodile Bay Resort and FECOP, the sport fishing advocacy and marine conservation group in Costa Rica. Crocodile Bay Resort’s crew was Oldemar Lopez and Sharlye Robles. Anglers, Christian Bolanos from Gray Taxidermy in Quepos and myself. Capt. Lopez suggested we try Matapalo Rock a popular roosterfish at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The overnight showers had muddied up some other popular inshore spots so it made sense.
Roosterfish is the perfect choice for this kind of study. It is a strong fighting fish, popular inshore game fish and Gray Fish-Tag has already learned a lot about them from the traditional spaghetti tag. Because it is a coastal animal, a good number of tagged fish have been caught again. The spaghetti tag is inserted on the shoulder of a fish and has a serial number. The number is reported to the research center by sport fishermen who recapture the fish. With this method, the information is limited to where it was caught and what size it is. When recaptured we learn how much it has grown over the period of time between captures and how far it traveled. The electronic tag records much more information but the fish must be recaptured also. The success with spaghetti tags made it worth the bet because they cost $1500 a piece. Four have been placed first time around. One in Quepos, one in Herradura, and two in the southern zone around Golfo Dulce.
As we reached the mouth of the gulf we were hit by a wall of wind in our face. Still a half mile from Matapalo Rock we trudged on. As we finally arrived I thought about renaming the famous landmark, at least for this day, Whirlpool or Maytag. It stood like the spindle of a washing machine and the surrounding waters were in the agitate cycle. We worked a nearby pinnacle but it was almost impossible to do a decent drift over the spot. Over and over we worked the area, fishing with one hand and holding on with the other. Somehow the conversation turned to the relationship between biologists and fishermen. A lot of biologists have never fished and a lot of fishermen don’t know the difference between an otolith and an eyeball. They are at times at wits end with each other because sometimes neither respects the opinion of the other. Travis laughed and said, “I can tell you a whole lot about roosterfish, but to be honest I have never caught one.
About that time Bolanos’s rod twitched and then slammed down towards the water and line screamed of the reel. After a 20-minute balancing act he had a 35 lb roosterfish on the surface. Travis jumped into action, made an incision in the fish’s belly and had the tag inserted and stitched up in less than two minutes while running water over the fishes gills. The rooster took off like he had a firecracker under his butt when placed back in the water. Mission Accomplished!
We had heard some chatter on the radio about a school of tuna working a couple miles off the beach so we ran out. We found the dolphins and tuna but the tuna wasn’t interested in anything we had to offer. Then we made a unanimous decision. Let’s go back to the rock and see if we can get Travis a rooster. Back to the washing machine!
It took about thirty minutes but finally Travis was hooked into his first rooster. He got the fish to the boat a dozen times and each time it would peel off another 50 yards of line. Eventually he had the fish to the boat and it went an easy 50 lbs. That is like winning the lottery the first time you by a ticket. I think we made a fisherman out of Travis. I know one thing. My biologist friend knew a hell of a lot more about roosterfish than he did when the day started.
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Fishermen and tourism operators have reported an increase in sightings of tuna shoals along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast in recent months, according to the Costa Rican Fisheries Federation (FECOP), a sport fishing and environmental interest group.
The increase in tuna has benefited local, commercial fishing and sport fishing in the region, and has had a positive impact on the number of dolphin in the area, the group said. Currently, dolphin “can be seen in the thousands,” FECOP said in a recent report.
The group credited an October 2014 governmental decree restricting industrial tuna fishing in Costa Rican waters with what it said were recovering tuna and dolphin populations. Pods of dolphin often travel with schools of tuna, and industrial tuna boats frequently snare dolphin when they cast their nets.
The decree, which was supported by FECOP and Costa Rican commercial fishermen, banned industrial tuna vessels from fishing within an area up to 40 miles from the coastline.
According to a 10-year study from FECOP, foreign-owned purse seine ships captured 90 percent of the tuna caught in Costa Rican waters between 2002 and 2011.
Now only small- and medium-scale longline fishing vessels are authorized to operate within these areas.
The law also requires large vessels to use satellite-tracking devices in order to allow monitoring of their position and verification of their compliance with the fishing exclusion areas.
Mauricio González Gutiérrez, executive director of the National Chamber of Longline Fishermen, supported FECOP’s report, saying many of the chamber’s associates have seen an improvement in fish populations following the signing of the decree.
González said that they have received reports of monthly catches ranging from 100 and 140 tuna over the past year. They have also gotten reports of larger tuna caught.
“We started seeing an improvement in medium-size tuna that usually ranged from 26-29 kilos. Then in April we started getting reports of tuna up to 34 kilos,” he said.
González noted that fishing exclusion areas also help local fishermen and women work closer to the coastline, which helps them reduce the time spent on the open sea, saving them money in fuel and other supplies.
FECOP’s report states that the spike in tuna schools is also having a direct impact on the tourism industry, as more tourists are choosing to go sport fishing and dolphin watching. These visitors also stay at local hotels, hire local transport services, rent boats and spend on food and entertainment, the report states.
Conservationists more cautious about tuna numbers
Marco Quesada, executive director of Conservation International Costa Rica, said his group is cautious about these reports, saying they must be carefully analyzed.
Quesada believes sightings should be evaluated using scientific criteria before emphatically assuring that “more tuna shoals and more dolphin pods in the area are a direct result of the [government’s] regulations.”
The government’s decree, he said, “is not perfect and therefore people should scientifically verify whether these sightings correspond to effects of the restrictions or if they are incidental.”
Quesada noted that the increase in sightings could be the result of a variety of situations, such as a decrease in fishing in neighboring countries.