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Regulation Needed to Grow Sportfishing Industry

WITH everyone getting ready for Christmas, we haven t had much in the way of reports, but what we do hear is good news. Boats out of JP Tours in Quepos had two marlin both over 300 pounds last week, along with three to six sailfish releases daily. The latest report out of Los Sueños was 36 sails, one marlin and five dorado caught by the Costa Rica Dreams fleet Dec. 12-14. Further north, strong offshore winds have been handicapping anglers, but fish are still being caught. In northern Guanacaste, White Magic skipper Forrest Zielke reports that in spite of the wind, they battled one marlin last week but lost it in the heavy seas, and have been finding sailfish even on half-day inshore trips. Dan Wise reported from Barra Colorado, on the northern Caribbean coast, that the rain had stopped, skies were blue and, while business is slow, the few anglers going out are getting calba (fat snook) in the river and tarpon outside of the river mouth. As of Tuesday of this week, the Río Colorado Lodge operator said skies were blue and the river was going down after heavy rains the previous week had raised it above the docks. Dan ran into Costa Rica fishing legend Bob Hohl while fishing Monday out of nearby Casamar Lodge, and Bob had 12 calba on the boat for the morning. It looks like the run will continue to improve well into March if we don t have too much rain at the Barra. TAKING an end-of-the-year inventory of my e-mail sent items, I note that this is the 341st consecutive weekly fishing column contributed to The Tico Times in the past six years, and that doesn t include a few hundred prior to that, written soon after I arrived in Costa Rica in 1983. A lot of those were knocked out on an old Remington typewriter and unfortunately exist only in the printed archives. I also contribute to a number of U.S. outdoor magazines, and currently send out a weekly fishing report to more than 6,000 e-mail addresses. The report also appears on four major fishing Web sites. As you might guess, fishing (and writing about it) is a labor of love, but it also puts rice and beans on the table, since my company s primary source of income is arranging fishing trips to Costa Rica for those not blessed with the opportunity of living here. MY great concern is for the future of fishing in Costa Rica. When I first arrived, I could find only one charter boat operating regularly on the Pacific coast, the late Tom Bradwell s Blue Marlin. There was virtually no fishing out of Carrillo, Jacó, Quepos or, to the best of my knowledge, Golfito. Since then, growth of the sportfishing industry has created thousands of jobs and brought millions of dollars into the country in boats, marinas, hotels, resorts, land development and ancillary services. This significant revenue should show the government of Costa Rica the importance of implementing conservation measures and serious enforcement. Government officials can help to ensure the industry s continued growth by getting serious about regulating commercial fishing, particularly shark-finning, long-lining and indiscriminate gillnetting. If not controlled, these practices will eventually decimate the resource and shut down an industry that provides jobs and security for so many Costa Ricans, brings thousands of anglers here every year who spend needed U.S. dollars on hotels, travel, food, tours and like this fisherman often decide not to go home, but stay to bring in their pensions, buy property, provide employment and enjoy life in this incredible nation. My prayer for the New Year is that those who make the decisions in Costa Rica will wake up in time to preserve a resource that has done so much for this country. For info on fishing or assistance in planning a trip to Costa Rica, contact Jerry at


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