In the past, tourist and nonresident anglers could pick whether or not they wanted a monthly ($13 USD) and/or yearly fishing license ($25 USD). Considering that most anglers come to fish once a year (about 98%) they’d pick the cheaper. Fishermen who don’t know this in advance have been known to get a little upset at having to shell out cash at the dock to get one before they set forth on a $1200/day sport fisher charter. Fishing licenses are not usually included on a charter and have to be paid for when on the docks.
But soon that will change – affective Jan 1, 2011 sport fishing licenses will go up in price. And [most importantly] Costa Rica will no longer provide the low-cost monthly fishing license, instead, they will force anglers to buy the more expensive yearly license at $30 USD.
Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) claims the price hikes and single yearly license are necessary due to the rising cost of administrating the fishing license system.
At first one would think, no big deal, if you are paying for a full-day of fishing on a nice 34′ boat that cost between $800-1400/day, you can afford $30.
But that’s not the point, because this new price hike may be adding a new gateway for dishonestly.
First let’s look at the obvious (besides the over 100% increase); what prevents those leaving anglers from passing their licenses to the next group of fishermen who are arriving at the dock or hotel? And who is going to police those licenses? Are they going to counter-check the license’s name with the name and number on the angler’s passport. In otherwords, on the back of fishing licenses, the anglers passport number has to be entered, but in all my years of fishing Costa Rica, that has never happened.
A month ago we fished several days in Quepos, and after getting our license, we were not checked again. In fact, every time we have fished, we never had any license checked, so there is nothing to prevent license swapping.
Back in a Jaco bar I listened to a conversation of how group of six men only bought four monthly licenses. Since not all of the men of the group wanted to fish the 2-4 days, it allowed two men to fish without buying a license.
Okay big deal, two men just cheated Incopesca out of a few dollars. However, let’s take a look at the required yearly license and how many times those that purchase these yearly licenses will use them again – less than three percent. And as we all know, there are unscrupulous people out there.
And what prevents the charter captains or boat owners from getting the licenses back from their anglers and/or buy a few yearly licenses, and charging the anglers a few bucks extra (or use it as a sale gimmick) since the licenses are never and/or rarely checked. Or they flip the Incopesca personal a few dollars to turn their backs so their anglers do not get upset. Some captains have been known to leave the dock at 6am, way before Incopesca people get there so their charters do not have to pay.
And of course this does not include the docks and smaller ½ day charters that do not have Incopesca personal.
Now to add a bit more cost, boat owners fees are also going up. Fees for nationally registered boats will also increase; boats under 30 feet will pay a yearly fee of $360, boats between 30-45 feet will pay $580, boats 45-60 feet $850, and boats over 60 feet $1,100. Foreign-registered boats that come to Costa Rica to sport-fish will pay a fee of $330 regardless of size for a three-month license.
So in the depressed sport fishing charting service, now it is going to cost the angler and boat owners, a few more bucks to fish.