Killing Sailfish

NBIJOHNNBIJOHN Posts: 58 Deckhand
I just returned from a wonderful fishing trip to Costa Rica. During the trip we witnesses 14 dead sailfish, killed and discarded by longliners. I have attached just one picture of a dead sail attached to longline float. This type of waste of billfish has been going on in Costa Rica for years but now has become visible due to a few changes in commercial fishing. First the market for billfish has been severely decreased in the US due to recent regulation changes on the sale and importation of billfish. Secondly Costa Rica has also limited billfish landings to 14% of total catch. Both acts were put into place to reduce the killing of billfish. However, the killing goes on, but now it is more visible. Actually it is very reasonable to assume that this level of loss has been going on for years but wasn't as noticed because the fish were being sold into the commercial market. The reason for the billfish killing is the technique, longline fishing, being used. It just doesn't lend itself to a selective catch of mahi and tuna the real commercial fish. Costa Rica has a wonderful tourist industry that generates far more income then their commercial fishing. In the long run it is in their best interest to preserve the billfish fishery in their country. If the billfish fishery fades, so will the number of people coming to enjoy the country.

What can be done? We can write to try to explain the situation and need for action. The Tico's must find their solution. Limits on longline seasons, banning longline fishing in favor of green stick, float fishing, hook and line methods that do not involve killing by catch are all options.

I just have had so many wonderful trip to this country that i would hate to see it destroyed.

Replies

  • Those fish used to show up mostly in the US market. That is now prohibited under the billfish conservation cat which prohibits sale of billfish in the US.

    Broadbill Pro, Feel free to jump in with the longliner opinion on this!
  • broadbill-probroadbill-pro Posts: 68 Deckhand
    NBIJOHN wrote: »
    First the market for billfish has been severely decreased in the US due to recent regulation changes on the sale and importation of billfish. Secondly Costa Rica has also limited billfish landings to 14% of total catch. Both acts were put into place to reduce the killing of billfish. However, the killing goes on, but now it is more visible. Actually it is very reasonable to assume that this level of loss has been going on for years but wasn't as noticed because the fish were being sold into the commercial market. ]

    In the past the fish were destined for the dinner table, now due to a political/environmental agenda those fish are called bycatch rather than food and discarded dead. You are correct the same amount of fish will continue to die, only now it will be for no purpose other than vilifying the fisherman.

    Photo 2 and 3 only indicate a dead sailfish, see that over Florida reefs everyday. Photo 1 clearly shows a PLL buoy next to the fish which indicates it has not been discarded since the vessel has not hauled the gear yet. Propaganda....... why not throw an old net over them and make it a clean sweep.
  • NBIJOHNNBIJOHN Posts: 58 Deckhand
    Broadbill-pro. I don't have any ax to grind with the commercial fishermen in Costa Rica and I have no political agenda. I saw 14 freshly discarded dead sailfish early in the morning in a relatively confined area. The sail attached to the float was odd as you mentioned. It was odd because someone of some how the mainline had been cut and it was a drifting section. I also counted 12 local longline vessels laid up for the day catching bait and sleeping at the mouth of the gulf. That's a lot of hooks in the water. They weren't doing anything illegal, just fishing. However, that many baited hooks will have a major impact on fish. The economic value of a healthy fish stock is extremely important for Costa Rica for both tourism and also their commercial fishing. I hope that they can find a way for both to exist. I only suggest that perhaps there is another way for the commercial fishermen to keep making a living fishing, while not destroying the fish population on which the tourism industry thrives. The commercial market is really interested in catching, tuna and mahi and perhaps they can find a way to continue that catch while releasing a high percentage of other species alive instead of dead.

    So, I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to bash commercial fishermen or put out propaganda. They are operating totally within current regulations. I just think that Costa Rica should take another look at their fishing practices and try to figure out what is the best use of the wonderful resource they have in a plentiful fish stock.
  • broadbill-probroadbill-pro Posts: 68 Deckhand
    Fair enough.... I'm sure you must understand that stranger things have been done than fabricating a photo to promote an agenda. As a matter of fact one of Ron's FWC buddies is currently in hot water for doing the same.

    It is a difficult situation to take what was once considered a food source and then give it a holy status reserved for another fishing sector that also kills it. This is an endless debate, I can't get my arms around killing a fish for fun. If that rubs some people the wrong way then be happy that I do not make the rules. To be clear, I am 100% behind regulations that restrict fishing for any threatened species by all fishing sectors. We know enough about migration to close areas when the fish are the most vulnerable, but see how that sits with the resorts that are exploiting the resource as well.
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