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Costa Rican fishing tourism industry hit by commercial activity


Increased commercial activity is having a serious adverse effect on a recreational fishing industry that supports nearly 33,000 jobs and generates more than US$520m for a Pacific Ocean country.

Costa Rica is known as a premium destination for recreational sailfish and marlin fishing, attracting more than 150,000 tourists a year, but commercial fishing for the species is still permitted in the country and has coincided with a decrease in the availability of sailfish for fishing tourism, according to the Federacion Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP), the sportfishing representative body of Costa Rica.

It says that a recent study on the availability of sailfish for the tourist fleet over the last 15 years has decreased significantly. “Furthermore,” it added: “In that same study it was found that the decrease is related to the increase in sailfish landings by the commercial fleet.

“In recreational fishing these species are released immediately after capture, constituting to a sustainable activity with low environmental impact.”

Other regulations designed to decrease the impact on sailfish and marlin in this type of fishing includes the prohibition of taking specimens onto the boat to take photographs and the mandatory use of circle hooks.

“Decision makers recognise the importance of these species for coastal communities and implemented these measures,” said FECOP.

“The negative effect of commercial fishing is additional to the effect of natural seasonal variations in fish abundance and changes in sea temperature associated with climate change.”

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