On The Water with FECOP

President of INCOPESCA Steps Down

Moises Mug who held the helm of INCOPESCA for a little over a year under the Alvarado administration has stepped down from his post. Under pressure from commercial fishing groups and a barrage of protests about not doing enough for the sector with included crashing the gate at the Casa Presidencial and launching homemade cherry bombs, he called it quits.

Mug did accomplish a few things that will affect the sportfishing sector before he left office.

Reform of the foreign tuna purse-seine licensing regulation. Establishes a limit on the tuna catch for purse-seine vessels fishing in Costa Rica. New methodology to determine the cost of the license, with key tuna use factor based on market value of the tuna.

Reform of the tuna capacity concession regulation. This will change the rules for the concession of 9364 cubic meters of Costa Rican fishing capacity to foreign tuna purse seine vessels, it raises the price per cubic meters (from USD150 per m3 to USD 650 per m3) breaking the black market and provides a more transparent bidding process.

Project of Law (bill of law) sent for congress approval that eliminates free tuna licenses for purse-seiners, expands the coastal polygon, where purse-seine tuna is forbidden, from 45 nautical miles to 60 nautical miles, and establishes a Costa Rican observers program for purse-seine vessels fishing with Costa Rican tuna licenses or using Costa Rican tuna fishing capacity. The bill is still pending.

Re-establishment and launch of the Presidential illegal fishing Commission. Focus on high seas and later in coastal fishing. Incorporates new members as Air Surveillance Service, Foreign Affairs Ministry and Ministry of Environment which join previous members including Coast Guard, General Attorney for Environment, INCOPESCA, Central Bank, and others. The President of Costa Rica presides over the commission.

Reform of the INCOPESCA governance. A bill of law project was sent to congress for approval increasing the government representation in the board of directors from 4 to 6 providing government control in the board. New proposed members are the Ministry of Environment and the Coast Guard. This reform is part of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development  (http://www.oecd.org ) requirements in the Costa Rican accession process to the OECD.

Advanced in the OECD accession process its Committee on Fisheries (COFI). Two successful defenses at the OECD – COFI made in November 2018 and May 2019 in Paris, where Mug presented the Costa Rican workplan to raise INCOPESCA standards to OECD fishery management standards.

$100 million sustainable fisheries loan project with the World Bank. Mug participated in a project that is already approved, and funds earmarked by the World Bank, and completing the paperwork and basic studies to get Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Treasure approval at local level. This project will raise capacities on fishery governance and science, fishery related infrastructure, and social and environmental sustainability, to rebuild fish stocks, and move coastal fishery communities away from government economic subsidies and towards healthy economic and social wellbeing.

Silky shark and marine turtle conservation resolutions at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Leaded the Costa Rican delegation at the IATTC in Bilbao, Spain (July 15 – July 26, 2019) and got approval for a two-year silky shark conservation resolution and helped pass a marine turtle conservation resolution.

Seems quite a bit in a years-time when you consider he is being accused of doing very little.

It has been suggested to the Costa Rican Congress that INCOPESCA be abolished all together and taken over by the Minister of Environment. That probably won’t happen anytime soon, and President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado appointed Daniel Carrasco as the new President of INCOPESCA.

Carrasco now takes the lead as President of INCOPESCA moving from a scientific background of Mug as a Fisheries Expert to Carrasco’s legal experience as an attorney for the Ministry of Agriculture who overseas fisheries in Costa Rica also.

He said his north will be “responsible and sustainable fishing as a source of food, employment generation and economic benefits in coastal communities nationwide.” He added that within his administration he will open dialogue spaces to build, with the help of the sectors and with transparency in decision-making, actions that are real for the benefit of the various actors in the sector.

We know a General is only as good as his army and hopefully Carrasco is given the tools to work his plan.

More Satellite Tags Placed on Marlin

Gregg Mufson owner of Zancudo Lodge hosted Dr. Larry Crowder and he team of biologists from Stanford University on a mission to place more satellite tags on marlin. They chose the FADs off the Osa Peninsula to fish and in two days place 6 tags in healthy marlin. The crew had already tagged marlin out of Los Suenos, Marina Pez Vela, Crocodile Bay, and aboard the Thumper out of Golfito.

Mufson was lead angler on the expedition and several more marlin were caught besides the one’s that ended up swimming with sat tags. The tags are set to be released from the fish at intervals of 6, 9, or 12 months. Then they will float to the surface and begin transmitting. Then there will be a better idea of what these fish do in relation to the FADS. How long do the hang around one? Do the move from Fad to Fad in their migration route?

These and many other questions may soon be answered. I the course of the study, the biologists plan on tagging over 100 fish in the multi-year program.


Todd Staley has managed sportfishing operations in Costa Rica for 25 years. He has been involved with FECOP since its inception and is former President of the group and was co-recipient of IGFA’s Chester H. Wolfe award in 2015 for his conservation efforts in Costa Rica. He is currently Fishing Columnist for the Tico Times and works full-time with FECOP as Director of Communications. Contact Todd at todd@fecop.org