On the seasonal dynamic characteristics of the sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, in the eastern Pacific off Central America
The greatest catch rates in the world for sailfish [Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw in Shaw and Nodder, 1792)] occur in an area of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off Central America, where this species supports multi-million dollar catch-and-release sport fisheries associated with tourism in Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala. Sailfish is also caught as by-catch in expanding coastal artisanal long-line fisheries, which primarily target mahi-mahi, sharks, and tunas. Furthermore, sailfish have been historically impacted as by-catch in the very large industrial high seas long-line tuna fisheries since about 1964. In spite of the importance of sailfish to the Central American fisheries and their local economies, very little is known about its population dynamics and status of exploitation. We present an ecosystem view of likely mechanisms regulating the seasonal relative abundance of sailfish off Guatemala. Overall, regional sailfish abundance is 80% below their initial 1964 levels and trophy sizes of recreationally caught sailfish have declined at least 35% from their unexploited trophy sizes. These developments compromise the strategic value of the resource to the sport fishing industries and generate conflicts among stakeholders. We postulate the need for a regional fishery management plan for the sailfish as a way to promote sustainable use of the resource.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-11-01
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