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Costa Rican angler José Pereira Pérez caught the potential new all-tackle record for tropical gar (Atractosteus tropicus) on Feb. 23 while fishing the Rio Frio. Pérez needed only five minutes to
subdue the 14.76 kg. (32 lb., 8 oz.) gar after it ate the live bait he was casting, said the International Game fish Association. The current record is 8.64 kg. (19 lb.), said the association.

                          seine free
Yellow area is where the president designated a zone free of
purse seine operations

President creates zone offshore
where purse seiners are forbidden

By the Fish Fabulous Costa Rica staff

In one of her last acts before leaving office, President Laura Chinchilla designated a 60-mile area parallel to the coast where no purse seine operations are allowed. The area is reserved for sports fishing and medium long-line commercial fishing.

The action is expected to be a big boost to sports fishing if enforcement is rigorous.

This designation alone is expected to save some 1,000 tons of billfish from tuna purse seining each year, according to a summary of the plan presented to fishing interest. The purse seiners, who use giant nets, also are responsible for the death of dolphin when the mammals are caught in the nets. This area is about 13.5 percent of the national waters and the country's exclusive economic zone.

The decree also sets up a 200,000-square kilometer area some 200 miles south of Golfito where  tuna purse seiners cannot operate. Only long-liners can fish for tuna. Long-line fishing is less likely to catch dolphin.

Some sports fishing advocates had pushed for a 100-mile restricted zone.

An additional requirement is that commercial fishing boats install monitoring devices so they can be tracked by satellite. Circle hooks are mandated to avoid turtle damage. Another requirement is that all long-line gear must be identified in the water with the boat license number,

The Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura is being required to set up a tuna research organization. The institute also is obligated to set up a management plan in the next 12 months.

If Costa Rica does not put the oceans in order, there will be a tragedy, said the president in signing the decree.

While some charter operators have been crowing about a successful season, others have said the  purse seine commercial operators were devastating the tuna and other sports fish. A recent international billfish contest in Golfito was canceled for reason that were not made clear. The suggestion was that concern about the quantity of the fishing stock was among the reasons.

— May 17, 2014

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