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Conservationists to talk S.O.S. at State of the Oceans Summit in Costa Rica

Some of life’s lessons hit us like a truck, and hopefully we pick ourselves up off our keisters and move forward. Others are taught to us in a more gentle fashion by someone older and wiser. When Jani Shulz was 9 years old, her grandfather took her into her school principal’s office and explained that Jani would be missing a day or so from school or as long as it took to finish a project he had for her. He then took her home, sat her down and had her write “I will never say ‘I can’t’ again” 10,000 times.

Todd Staley

Todd Staley

Shulz has plowed through life with that philosophy ever since. After studying media in college, she worked in television and radio for 10 years before she decided she needed an escape. She launched a magazine called Exotic News that was devoted to conservation through private ownership. The publication soon became an international success, and her projects took her to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Sixteen years ago, she and her husband, Jurgen, discovered southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, and they have been out at Mogos ever since.

A freak life-threatening motorcycle accident involving Shulz’s daughter, Jessica, connected her with a reconstructive surgeon named Óscar Suárez at CIMA Hospital in the western San José suburb of Escazú. Suárez suggested Shulz contact his father-in-law, who had a great interest in the Osa Peninsula. This started her relationship with Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Luis Diego Escalante, who asked her what she thought were the Osa’s greatest needs.

Shulz told Escalante that most people in the Central Valley know nothing about the Osa Peninsula and that the people of Osa do not have a “voice.” Escalante helped her find a radio frequency, and Rainforest Radio was born in January 2009. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day on 960 AM (TT, Aug. 19, 2010).

Shulz’s motto is “Conservation through commerce,” supporting sustainable projects. She also broadcasts “Jana of the Jungle” on LA Talk Radio Wednesdays at noon, sending her message worldwide. For all her hard work over the years in conservation, Shulz was chosen to be moderator of the State of the Oceans Summit (SOS), set to take place Aug. 12 to 14 at the Ramada Plaza Herradura conference center in Ciudad Cariari, west of San José.

The event will kick off with a social gathering Friday at 6 p.m., when representatives from the international environmental community and Costa Rican environmental organizations will gather for a networking social.

Saturday is a full day of guest speakers organized by Richard Stewart of the Ocean Realm Society and founder of Sport Diver Magazine. Speakers include:

–Costa Rica’s Randall Arauz, president of the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (Pretoma), the driving force of an eight-year campaign against shark finning that has culminated with the creation of progressive legislation and closure of private docks to foreign fleets;

–Jupp Kerckerinck Borg, president of the Shark Research Institute and founder of, an informational website dedicated to educating people about sharks;

–Ronald Sanabria, vice president of sustainable tourism at the Rainforest Alliance, whose team has been awarded the International Ecotourism Society’s Innovation Award and who was named one of the 10 most influential guardians of sustainable tourism by Condé Nast Traveler;

–12-year old María José Suárez, Costa Rica’s environmental youth ambassador, who will tell what is happening in her country through the eyes of a child;

–and Dustin McDonald, an award-winning documentary producer, who will speak about the problem of plastics in the ocean.

Also, Enrique Ramírez, executive director of the Costa Rica Sport Fishing Federation (FECOPT), and Javier Cantón, president of the Pacific fishermen’s union (Costa Rica’s longline fleet), will team up to discuss the effects of foreign fleets on Costa Rica’s fisheries. While sport and commercial fishermen don’t see eye to eye on many things, the two groups started meeting a couple of months back to discuss issues in Costa Rica that affect both groups. The commercial group claims foreign vessels are taking 70 percent of the fish caught commercially off Costa Rica, often taking them to other countries with no economic benefit to Ticos. The sportfishing group, whose business is already suffering from a poor economy, is wondering how Panama can promote sportfishing by announcing it has rid its waters of longlines and tuna boats while Costa Rica has given permits to nine Panamanian-flagged tuna boats to operate in Costa Rican waters.

The summit is part of EcoWeek Costa Rica, an event celebrating the environment and culture in Costa Rica. For more information about the summit, go to For more on EcoWeek, see


The action on the Caribbean side and off Guanacaste on the northern Pacific coast continues to be excellent. The tarpon bite is still good from Parismina to Barra del Colorado on the Caribbean, and billfish are showing in good numbers in Guanacaste.

The Los Sueños area on the Central Pacific was a hot spot this past week. Straight Up Sportfishing’s Bill McMenemy checked in with a report of three blue marlin and a sail released in one day working the waters southwest of the marina. Captains from Quepos report the sailfish bite has improved a great deal and boats have been seeing a half dozen or more each day. The inshore fishing is also hot in Quepos, with roosterfish and jacks stretching string for happy anglers.

Tuna Will Briegel

Will Briegel, María Soto, Cheiry Cedeño, Thomas Fees, Daniel Soto and Escarleth Castillo with their catch of football-sized tuna. Courtesy of Will Briegel.

Down south, a few sails are coming up in the teasers but the fish are not cooperating like they are a little farther north. Casey McCartin fished with me this week inshore and took a 50- and a 70-pound roosterfish and some amberjack to 40 pounds, but struck out on billfish.

Will Briegel took a day off from Web design for Crocodile Bay Resort to take a few friends offshore. They were rewarded with enough football-sized tuna to throw a party for their friends. Will claims to make the best tuna steak in the Southern Zone.

Todd Staley is the fishing manager at Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jiménez, on southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Skippers, operators and anglers are invited to email fishing reports by Wednesday of each week to To post reports and photos on The Tico Times’ online fishing forum, go to


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