Sportfishing groups from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico in November for the inaugural meeting of the Pan American Sportfishing Delegation.
The purpose of the group is to promote sport fishing as a competitive sport and to have a common front on fisheries conservation. Other goals include adding sport fishing to the Pan American Games, with the cooperation of European countries, and, as a long-term goal, making sport fishing an Olympic sport. With golf, table tennis and handball already Olympic sports and with skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and mixed competition having been introduced to the 2020 Games, it’s time to introduce sport fishing to the Olympic Games. event.
According to the International Confederation of Sport Fishing (CIPS) – founded in 1952 in Rome, Italy, and which today has 50 million members in 77 countries – the Americas are not yet sufficiently organized for sport fishing to be considered. for the Olympics. The Americas include all countries in North, Central and South America.
The Costa Rican Federation of Fisheries (FECOP), a Costa Rican non-profit association that represents eight sport fishing associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Amateur Fishing Club, has been invited to represent Costa Rica in the Pan American delegation. FECOP has been a pioneer in conservation in Costa Rica, including stopping the export of sailfish, and sponsoring and providing science to protect over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial waters from tuna seiners in 2014 A reduction in tuna licenses sold to foreign fleets (43 to 13) in 2017 saved 25 metric tons of marlin bycatch this year.
“It’s very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” said Carlos Cavero, President of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represents sport fishing interests. Costa Rica has so much to offer the world of sport fishing and has many anglers with the skills to compete internationally.
Four Pan American tournaments are scheduled for 2018 representing different types of sport fishing. A largemouth bass event will take place on Lake Okeechobee, Florida; snub to Tabasco, Mexico; and an offshore tournament in Isle Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala has also been suggested as a possible location for a snook event. Costa Rica and FECOP will host the 2018 Pan American Assembly next November, followed by a three-day international roosterfish tournament. The site remains to be determined. Luis García will lead the events with the following representatives in charge by species:
Largemouth Bass: John Knight, USA Snook: Rolando Sias, Mexico Offshore Big Game: José Espinoza, Mexico Tarpon: Carlos Cavero, Henry Marin, Costa Rica Roosterfish: Todd Staley, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is world famous for its Pacific side swordtail action. Marina Pez Vela and Los Sueños host several world-class events. FECOP was asked to select a widely accessible species that offers anglers without big game skills a chance to do well and showcases the country’s fisheries at the same time.
Two species came to mind for a catch-and-release type tournament. All released fish will be tagged with a spaghetti tag for scientific study: rooster in the Pacific and tarpon in the Caribbean part of the country. FECOP has decided to have a roosterfish tournament under its belt and to add an international tarpon tournament in 2019.
Of course, you can’t travel to Mexico without casting a line in the Gulf of Mexico. The group boarded the The Boss not really optimistic about catching. It wasn’t quite big pelagic season yet and the red small craft warning flags had been flying in the breeze for a few days. The bonito and the small mackerel were there to play.
The breeze picked up and Ben Blegen, a tournament ice fisherman from Minnesota, quickly whipped up an array of scrambled eggs, tortillas and Mexican chorizo. The color came back quickly when, despite that horrible feeling of being unwell, he managed to land a mackerel over 30 pounds.
Later, while gazing out over the turquoise waters of Puerto Morales, Mexicans host a seafood feast of lobster, fresh mackerel and Mexican rice. Amazing how Ben’s appetite has returned.
You can find out more about FECOP at www.fishcostarica.org.
Read more “Wetline Costa Rica” features here.
Todd Staley has been running sport fishing operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take time off to devote himself full-time to marine conservation. Contact him at [email protected].