By the A.M. Newspapers staff
Coast guard patrols are cracking down on illegal fishing, but the
effort may be too little and too late.
Sports fishing captains are complaining about an unprofitable seasons
in part because their customers are aware that Costa Rica's marine
creatures have been ravaged by long-line commercial operations and
local illegal crews.
The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas said Dec. 13 that it detained
four local fishing boats in less than a week for using live bait to
The coast guard noted that one live sailfish brings in more money to
local communities than 100 dead fish because of its value to the sports
Still, locals still seek the sports fish for sale as food. Doing so
with live bait is illegal and reserved for sports fishermen, under a
2009 decree by the nation's fishing control agency. The country also
prohibited the exportation of sailfish at the same time.
Many sport fishing enthusiasts practice catch and release.
The agency in control of fishing is the Instituto Costarricense de
Pesca y Acuicultura.
Commercial fishermen in the Golfito area protested the decree at the
time and generally are ignoring it. The existing regulations restricts
the time they may fish in the gulf and requires them to be far off
shore much of the year.
The local commercial fishermen say they feel
that the regulations are a major concession to the sports fishing
industry. In fact, the decree was brokered by the non-profit
There have been crackdowns earlier this year, but fishermen find that
live bait is highly effective.
The coast guard said that a boat detained Dec. 13 was the
“Capitán Adrián,” which was located some seven miles off
Cabo Matapalo, Golfito. The boat carried a captain and three crew
members along with miles of fishing line.
The coast guard crew said it
found a lot of deficiencies with the boat. Not the least of which were
an absence of a license, a certificate of navigability and a
The biggest problem, however, was that the boat was fishing with a long
line and live bait. Martín
Ministerio de Gobernación,
Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Wednesday coast guard crew
members found this evidence of the use of live bait.
Arias Araya, director of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas said
that this practice damages the environment and sports fishing.
The coast guard crew members said they found 50 dorado and two sailfish
on board as well as three live dorado and 75 smaller live jurel
ojón. These are called bigeye trevally in
English and have the Latin name Caranx sexfasciatus. These are
used as bait.
Dec. 11 the coast guard based in Golfito boarded three fishing boats
off Punta Tigre de Puerto Jiménez, Golfito. They were the
“Capitán Bayron,” “Selena Calet” and “Stacy.” The crews all are
accused of illegal fishing for sailfish with live bait.
These long line fishing operations put out long lengths of line with
baited hooks dangling several meters apart.
Central and south Pacific sports fishing captains are reporting a
decline in tourism activity. One said his numbers this year were off 30
The captains do not like to talk about the situation for fear of
turning away even more tourist fishing fans.
In addition to the decline of fish in the Pacific, one captain listed
the problems facing tourism all over Costa Rica. That is the higher
cost of goods and services and other countries that welcome tourists