San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Billfish benefit from foundation's benevolence

Following the 20th anniversary of its “Tag and Release” program, the Billfish Foundation is honoring participating enterprises and anglers with new certificates that commemorate both their catch and their conscience.

The certificate will help fishermen remember their big catch in a new way: a stylish certificate tacked on their wall. After the foundation helped outlaw hauling large fish into the boat for a “hero shot” in Costa Rica earlier this year (TT, Jan. 16), the certificate provides a more fish-friendly token of the special moment just before release.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based Billfish Foundation has been dedicated to replenishing the world´s billfish populations since 1985. The Tag and Release initiative both promotes sport fishing, and provides migratory information that helps in the foundation´s ultimate goals. By involving local fishing guides in highly-fished areas, like Costa Rica, they have been able to track the movement of the great fish by receiving information about catch locations and from information generated from tagged fish. Through that work, nearly 16,000 data reports were made in 2008, according to a statement by the Billfish Foundation.

Due to Costa Rica´s ideal location and plentiful array of wildlife, it benefits greatly from tourism – representing 8 percent of the country´s gross domestic product. One of the great draws is the country´s outstanding sportfishing (see the TT Fishing Forum).

The Billfish Foundation began organizing a local support network for conservation-based fishing practices in 2004. By the following year, the foundation had helped establish the Costa Rican Association for Fish Conservation, which brings together resorts, charter operators, Costa Rican fishing clubs, and Pacific coast captains and mates in support of the cause.

Two large Costa Rican fishing tournaments are associated with the foundation, as well: the International Light Tackle Tournament, held out of Jacó, and the Presidential Challenge of Costa Rica, held out of Playa Carillo, on the Nicoya Peninsula.

The foundation is looking to court Caribbean charters in Costa Rica in the near future.

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