A sportfishing boat was attacked by commercial fishermen last week, off the coast of Costa Rica, by a Venezuelan-flagged operation. The Silver-Rod-O, an American owned and operated sportfisher, was trolling for yellowfin tunas and billfish around a school of spinner dolphin, when the incident occurred. Just after they released a sailfish, a small helicopter appeared overhead, and the purse seiner La Rosa Mistica changed course to head directly at the sportfish.
Other commercial boats have “pushed” sportfishers out of their way before, when bearing down on schools of fish off Costa Rica. But this incident became far more dangerous then past ones when, according to Gary Carter (owner of the Silver-Rod-O), the helicopter started dropping incendiary devices around the boat.
“Several explosives landed within 50 meters of the boat,” said Carter. ”The purse seiner continued to power straight toward our boat. It was threatening to either encircle us in their net or to plow us into the sea unless we abandoned the school of dolphin.”
Fortunately the Silver-Rod-Oescaped before being encircled, which – as incredible as it may seem – has occurred in the past. In fact, according to Ellen Peel of The Billfish Foundation, this is the 10th attack on a sportfish by commercial vessels in the past two years off the coast of Costa Rica.
This occurs just a few weeks before The Billfish Foundation formally presents the results of its study on the economic contribution of sport and commercial fishing in Costa Rica, which, according to Billfish Foundation scientist Dr. Russell Nelson, documents that “sports fishing tourism contributes more to the Costa Rican gross national economy than commercial fishing, adding over $599 million annually, and $138 million of that comes directly from folks like Gary Carter who maintain a vessel and crew in that nation.”