By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
A Costa Rican sports fishing association is investing over $100,000 in an ongoing project partnered with the country’s fishing regulator.
According to a statement by the Federación Costarricense de Pesca, the group is working with the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Agricultura, or INCOPESCA, to teach local fishermen a fishing method known as green sticks, which allows for no bycatch. Bycatch is a fishing term used to describe the excess marine life or objects found in nets or traps.
Moreover, the group’s director of science, Moises Mug, has been monitoring the results of a 2014 measure signed by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís prohibiting tuna purse sein operations within 45 miles of the country’s coastline. Billfish bycatch in Costa Rica by purse seiners was reduced by over 70 percent, Mug said.
“This measure will reduce the bycatch impact tuna purse sein fisheries have on marine mammals, billfish and sharks,” Mug said.
This type of fishing uses a dragnet hanging vertically in the water with its bottom edges held down by weights and the top held up by floats. It is often a preferred technique when attempting to catch schools of tuna or salmon. The group claims that there are no Costa Rican flagged purse sein boats.
The federation claimed that, prior to the agreement, over 44 foreign tuna boats were operating off the shores of Costa Rica catching around 25,000 metric tons of tuna.
At the same time, only 36 percent of that catch was going to local port, the group said.
Perhaps in response to this, INCOPESCA issued a temporary halt on issuing new licenses for foreign vessels until the end of this year. A new proposal is being formed allowing only seven to nine licenses granted annually and a quota of around 9,000 metric tons allotted.
The group seeks all the fish captured going to local ports.