Blue Eco Blog

Splash! You are in Costa Rica's Blue Eco Blog. Echoing Eco for Oceans and Waters. Giving voice to dolphins and whales, their waves and their waters, and all denizens of the deep. News they think you should use. Dive in.

Nice Article on Crocodile Bay, Osa, Costa Rica

clock September 29, 2012 07:35 by author BlueEcoBlog

Cool new  article on stuff in the Osa here check it.  Still a gold rush going on!

 http://www.floridasportsman.com/2012/09/27/costa-rican-business-trip/

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Are tourists keeping Costa Rican dolphins awake?

clock August 30, 2012 09:28 by author BlueEcoBlog

Are tourists keeping Costa Rican dolphins awake?

Dolphins need protected areas and times.

Recent research on Hawaiian spinner dolphins indicates that they need protected times and places. Surprise! One bay is visited by as many as sixty swimmers at a time who try to play with a small group of dolphins. Seems the dolphins rest in the early daylight hours, and that’s when many swimmer tourists head out. Less dolphins may come into the bay and the dolphins might leave earlier than usual when too many people show up. Spinners in Hawaii rest in small groups near shore in shallow sandy bays near deep water. Scientists say these places need protection. Clearly tourists should be told to leave the dolphins alone in the early daylight hours and fishing and extraction should be stopped in the bays. Costa Rican dolphins should have it so good.


Costa Rican spinner dolphins deal with giant nets towed by ships, helicopters dropping bombs, long lines full of hooks, shrimp trawlers bulldozing the bottom, surprise drill ships making a big mess, big banging seismic surveys, cargo ships blitzing by, sport fishers plowing through the pod with lines and hooks, tourist boats gawking, and even some divers in the water. How do you think that effects their beauty sleep?


Don't forget here in Costa Rica spinner dolphins have no protected place at all.


Costa Rican spinner and spotted dolphins, who also rest in the early daylight, need tourists to leave them alone at this time. Sport fishing boats need to stop fishing in the dolphins as they particularly like the early hours of the day. Many hotel managers want tours to leave early to get everyone out of the hotel, but this is the wrong strategy if you are concerned about dolphins. Tourist operators like divers and fishers should put up on their web pages that they leave the dolphins alone in the am. Guests of Costa Cetacea over the years will recall that all tours leave late and respect the dolphins rest time, much to the frustration of some hotel managers. The interactions here in Costa Rica are much more interesting in the PM anyway.


Aloha to the Hawaiians for once again being the world ocean leaders. Lets hope Costa Rica follows.

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World Record Fish Dies For Glory of Woman

clock August 27, 2012 14:29 by author BlueEcoBlog
World Record Fish Dies For Glory of Woman.

She didn't catch it and it died.

A great example of the kooky world of catch and release fishing.  Some would add the word sport before fishing but that would be too funny for this blog.  By the way, she was going to let it go after she could get it high enough our of the water,but, but, oh well.  What a noble and goal oriented activity.  Most fish do not die after being released, at least not right away that anybody is seeing, so say the catch and releasers.  But still, must release fish cause, cause, otherwise they might disappear faster than they already are.  And then what would we catch and release?


Check out the article on this momentous occasion.
  And take a look a the most popular comments.  Does anyone think of this kind of fishing as sport?  Seems most see it as a senseless waste for a fleeting ego tour, not eco tour.   The Huff Post put it under Weird.  Costa Rica toursim people take note.  Its time to release catch and release.  If the fish is in so endangered you feel you need to release it, target something else.  And bring it home for sushi.


   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/what-a-whopper-hawaii-wom_n_1826497.html

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Pelagic Park’ Would Help Save Spinner Dolphins

clock August 15, 2012 04:20 by author BlueEcoBlog

‘Pelagic Park’ Would Help Save Spinner Dolphins

From The Tico Times, Posted: Friday, September 05, 2008 - By Shawn Larkin

The most hightech, large-scale fishing in Costa Rica’s oceans is commercial tuna fishing.

From hardworking crew and helicopters to radar and satellites, these operations take catching fish very seriously.

They drop enormous nets bigger than a city block into the sea to catch vast quantities of an assortment of marine life. They are after mostly tuna, among the most valuable fish of any denizens of the deep.

When fishing boats find a big group of spinner dolphins, they find some of their ever-present sidekicks: giant yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Mostly seen only below the surface, the tuna would not be so easy to locate without the help of the dolphins, which must surface regularly to breathe. The giant tuna pack together around the dolphins that find their food for them. Here, offshore of southern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, the big tuna and the spinner dolphins are always together.

I reckon the dolphins think: “Now that the  moon is full, the current is from the southwest at two knots and the wind is calm, a bigspaced swell is coming in from west-southwest, it rained last night and the layers of water temperatures changed a lot, it’s a sunny day, almost high noon, and I think I know where all those other dolphins are going, and the orcas will not hunt today, and the tuna boats will be busy for a few hours – hope my friends and family make it out! – we should go hunt the south end of the Osa drop-off upwelling.”

And I reckon the tuna are thinking just one thing: “Follow the dolphins.”

Follow the dolphins. Just as the seabirds, the sailfish and the marlin, the sharks and the whales, the sportfishing captains and the commercial tuna-fishing fleets do. Follow the dolphins; they have the best actionable ocean intelligence. The dolphins have the network. They are always with the food.

In the Osa drop-off upwelling, where dense, cooler and nutrient-rich water is pushed toward the ocean surface, the tuna, birds and other marine life are nearly always with the dolphins. All a commercial fishing fleet has to do is find the birds on a special radar, send up a helicopter or two to check it out and call in coordinates, start corralling the dolphins with the helicopter and explosives dropped from the helicopter, put down small, fast chase boats to further corral the dolphins, use the ship to corral the dolphins even more, and then put down a very big net around the dolphins and associated marine life with the help of a special net boat.

If you do this, you get a lot of tuna in the net below the dolphins, and it’s worth a lot of money.

Sadly, this kind of bonanza is unsustainable. The longer-lived, more slowly reproducing spinners will probably die out before the tuna are exhausted, perhaps giving the tuna a chance to recuperate, because once the dolphins are gone, no one will be able to find the tuna. But how will the tuna find food without the dolphins?

Fishing industry insiders have told me that dozens of spinner dolphins are killed every day by busy boats. They die most frequently when their narrow, smiling mouths get stuck in the holes of the nets. Hundreds more must be manhandled by diving crews and thrown out of the nets daily, lest the nets are damaged.

Other Osa dolphin species, such as bottlenose and spotted dolphins, are somewhat likelier to swim out if a small piece of one end of the net is put down for a while, a procedure known as a “backdown.”

Backdowns do not help Osa’s spinner dolphins, however; they stay in the net.

Tuna fishermen say the spinners are tontos, stupid, because they do not swim away from the ship and out of the net. They seem unable to stop surfing the ship’s waves. The same trait the tourist boats love dooms the poor spinners.

Time for ‘Pelagic Park’

The blue-water pelagic (open-ocean) ecosystem domain of the Osa’s spinner dolphins is probably the most productive ecosystem in Costa Rica, perhaps in the tropical marine world. According to former members of Jacques Cousteau’s legendary conservation ship, Calypso, and the BBC’s top “Blue Planet” underwater cameramen, offshore Osa is the richest tropical blue water they have seen anywhere on the planet (see sidebar).

The dolphins’ domain is an area between five and 20 nautical miles from Caño Island Biological Reserve. The reserve’s waters currently extend only about two nautical miles; this is not enough to protect large animals such as dolphins and tuna. To protect large marine animals, you need a Corcovado or Amistad-sized park at sea.

For many years, around the world, protected marine areas have proven to increase catches in surrounding areas. With a big enough pelagic park, or better still, parks and corridors, tuna-fishing boats could make money in the long term, not just short.

An astounding number of big, amazing  animals live in the Osa drop-off upwelling area and would be protected along with the spinners. Fin, sei, Bryde’s, humpback and blue whales and orcas frequent this little upwelling. Sailfish, marlin, tuna, manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, beaked whales, pilot whales, pseudorcas, bottlenose dolphins and spotted dolphins are found here in some of the highest concentrations in the world.

A special area of the Osa drop-off upwelling, the clearest waters in Costa Rica, would be an excellent place to prohibit commercial fishing, save the spinners and allow boaters and divers to see and snorkel with dolphins and other amazing marine life in the big blue.

Many people in Costa Rica, including yours truly, already benefit greatly from tourists visiting the giant dolphin pods and other marine life congregations off the Osa. But the commercial fishing fleet will end it soon for us all if some sort of pelagic park is not created.

The spinners are dying. There seem to be a lot fewer little spinners now then there were in the past. The pods no longer stretch to the horizon in every direction.

A park is the only solution. Just as Costa Rica has demonstrated to the world the value of protecting functioning terrestrial ecosystems, we can show the world the same goes for the ocean. Costa Rica needs to make peace with the ocean as well as the rain forest. It’s time to set aside a meaningful, not miniscule, part of Costa Rica’s biggest ecosystem: the open ocean.

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Tuna Fishing Endangers Dolphins in Costa Rica

clock August 7, 2012 12:25 by author BlueEcoBlog

Dolphins are Costa Rica’s most famous divers – and they have a problem. For decades, in the eastern tropical Pacific, the commercial fishing industry has hunted dolphin species that form enormous congregations, such as pantropical spotted, spinner, bottlenose, common and Risso’s dolphins.

Tuna always school beneath large groups of dolphins, so corralling the dolphins with helicopters and speedboats causes the tuna to form a more easily netted mass below. Unlike most sport fishers who catch a few fish in a sustainable way, many commercial operations set vast nets around dolphins in hopes of grabbing all the tuna possible. This technique has killed millions of dolphins, and continues to kill them as recently as last month off the Southern Zone’s Osa Peninsula.

Dolphin and tuna are often about the same size, and eat the same size of prey. The vast groups of yellowfin tuna constantly following large dolphin groups are led to lunch. The tuna seem to instinctively follow the dolphins, as do birds and other fish, because dolphins will find the food. The big brains of these marine mammals figure to look for chow a few miles offshore of an island, when the tide is high, the moon is full, the wind is clam, the water temperature is just right and the coast is clear, and the needlefish are schooling. The tiny brain of the tuna might just think: follow the dolphin.

Dolphins, being so social and traveling in such large groups, actually create a sort of structure, like a reef, in which smaller fish can hide as well as collect scrapes. Many species of fish, besides tuna, cruise in groups with the dolphins, including silky sharks, blue marlin and sailfish.

We call this famous phenomenon the tuna-dolphin association of the eastern tropical Pacific, not because it’s just tuna and dolphins but because huge commercial fishing fleets use dolphins breathing at the surface to find the tuna swimming below them. Many different species die in the nets of commercial fishing fleets. You may have heard of “dolphin-safe tuna”; this catchy phrase is better described as “some dead dolphin and mixed-species tuna.” The aforementioned catching method, sometimes still used, is “major dead dolphin and mixed species tuna.” As far as I know, none of the forms of massive-scale tuna fishing is even remotely safe for dolphins – some ways just kill less than others do.So, how do the methods differ? One is called a “backdown.” After netting all the tuna and dolphins through the normal process, the ship motors slowly in reverse. This, with the help of a few speedboats, lowers a part of the net down below the surface. Hopefully, the freaked-out dolphins will then swim out. Sometimes they do. Sometimes boats chase them out. But if the tuna follow them, the net is quickly yanked up. All the while, daylight is fading, the crew and workers are on the clock, and fuel is being guzzled. This is “dolphin-safe” tuna. Other methods don’t even use a backdown.

Waiting to catch the tuna when they are away from dolphins requires more time, effort and money, but is the only way to ensure dolphins are safe from slaughter. Reportedly, some boats do not set on dolphins, but until tuna consumers make this distinction, the prices of unscrupulous competitors will hurt the real “dolphin-safe” businesses.

Dolphin tourism can sometimes be at odds with commercial fishing interests. It makes it a little harder to surround a group of dolphins with helicopters, speedboats and a factory ship when a happy group of photosnapping tourists is in the way. On rare occasions, frustrated pilots in rickety helicopters that look more like lawn mowers than aircraft will attempt to drive off the people by buzzing a tourist boat near dolphins. If you are rooting for the dolphins, you can stay with them until there is not enough daylight for the time-consuming process of chasing and netting.

Why don’t the dolphins just smack a few boat captains on the head as they jump over the nets and swim away giggling? Because, like humans, dolphins, once they start to panic, are not so smart. Ancient instincts, such as freaking out, take over. And, as with humans, being in large groups makes panic worse. Dolphins are used to vast spaces; a net causes panic, and they just don’t think to jump over.

I wonder how commercial fishers will fare once the big pods are gone. This may sound distressingly familiar if you know about the vast herds or flocks of animals, such as American bison and passenger pigeons, which have disappeared on land and in the air. As the buffalo once did, the dead dolphins rot in waste or fall to scavengers, and, as with the passenger pigeons, a point may arrive when the population crashes suddenly to extinction.

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New Billfish Hero Shot-The Costa Rican Standard for the Future

clock August 7, 2012 09:35 by author BlueEcoBlog

A Different Kind of Trophy Shot

From The Tico Times: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - By Shawn Larkin

It s happened so many times before, but not quite like this.

You pull the thick, taut line until the giant beast is in your arms. Careful: The thing is bigger than you and could explode with movement. You haul up the great animal in a sort of hug as you look up at the camera with your trophy from the sea bravely displayed. Click. Trophy shot.

The human-with-big-fish trophy shot has been played out more times in Costa Rica than anyone can count. But these photos are dying out because sportfishers want to use their resource sustainably, and the old trophy shots hurt the fish when they were hauled out of the water. People were beginning to think the trophy shot was a thing of the past.

Check out the new trophy shot of Costa Rican adventure ecotourism. Everything is the same as the old style, except that instead of on deck, you do it underwater, along the longlines set by commercial fishermen.

There is no catch, just release. You then resuscitate the fish by moving it through the water, great for more shots or even video.

You have to resuscitate the great fish because, for who knows how long, it has swum around in tiny circles at the end of a short line, with a steel hook through its mouth. The animal is so exhausted that it may die. That s why you don t worry so much about the danger of grabbing hold of some of the fastest animals in the sea; you can tell when they don t have much kick left in them.

When you feel the fish start to get a little life back, you let go and move away. The fish angles down to the depths and shakes a bit.

Then it starts to swim away into the blue. Another marlin pulls in alongside the first. It had been circling its hooked partner.

By letting the fish off the hook, you may be helping to generate millions of future dollars for the national economy through future sportfishing and ecotourism.

You move a short swim down the long line and find another short line with a sailfish on the end of a hook, its mate circling. So you do it all again. Underwater, the line runs out of sight with more hooks and giant fish.

When you lift your head up from the water and take your mask off, you see that the longline stretches out of sight, with little white buoys holding up the line every 500 meters into the distance. Many of the fish are dead on the hook, but there are still plenty more live ones to release. They will surely die without you.

You keep at it because you want to see big sharks. Diving along long lines remains one of the best ways left to see big sharks in Costa Rica. But you don t see any big sharks, because hardly any are left. You wonder if, soon, any marlin and sailfish will remain.

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Dolphins-Should we swim and sing with them or put hooks and nets in with them?

clock July 20, 2012 14:00 by author BlueEcoBlog

Dolphins from this pod still being killed in July 2012.
Should Costa Rica kill them for tuna?
The video in the link below is Shawn Larkin freediving and singing with the spinner dolphin superpod of Osa, Costa Rica. Some people net dolphins, some people put lines and hooks in the water with dolphins. Some people sing and swim with them. What do you think is the right answer?

Why does KETO Costa Rica and Mar Viva and PROMAR,do nothing to help these spinner dolphins? They will take your money though and praise themselves for dolphin conservation, but what about our largest dolphin pod?.


Why do so many Costa Ricans cry about Faeroe Island and Japan and Greenland Cetacean kills, yet do NOTHING YEAR AFTER YEAR, to help their own resident spinner dolphin superpod from being killed in net and lines?

Why have so called Costa Rican dolphin conservation organizations not said one word about our Osa spinner dolphin superpod, the biggest resident dolphin superpod IN THE WORLD!
why?

$$$$ and corruption
Thats why.

Sharks are getting a lot harder to fish in Costa Rica, as the thieves have hardly left any.
The money now is in tuna that swim with dolphins, and its a lot more profit if you Ticos keep looking the other way por favor.

At least the other countries try to defend their sick atrocities. We Costa Ricans try to hide ours by whining and directing attention to others.

Pelagic Parks For Everyone!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbcqCrOMFas&feature=plcp

 

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Catch and Release Sportfishing is headed the way of African Big Game Tourist Hunting—More money and sustainability in oceanic adventure ecotourism

clock June 3, 2012 10:15 by author BlueEcoBlog
Are Catch and Release Sport Fishers hiding who really catches their fish? 


Long ago shooting big animals to say you did it, stuff it for your wall, or get a trophy photo of yourself looming over the motionless beast, seemed like a cool thing to do for many tourists. When the animals started disappearing, big game hunting began to appear to be more of a ego trip. Trophy catch and release sportfishing for fish might be headed on the same course, for the same reasons.


While sportfishing to eat fish will be around as long as there are fish, trophy fishing for endangered large animals to release might not last too much longer. As happened before with the fashion of big game hunting in Africa for Europeans, as more people find out what trophy fishing really entails, the mystique is being shattered. A heap of porters and a bunch of beasts of burden doing most of the work, once their roll was understood, took much of the glory out of big game hunting because the glory was theirs. And wealthy tourists didn’t really need or want to eat lions, tigers and rhinos.


The catch and release crowd of sport fishing is pretty darn similar. The glory belongs to the mates and captain who, almost always do the vast majority of the work. A thousand or so horsepower seems to help a lot as well. Watching, it can be difficult to figure out what some of the “sportfishers” do other than sit, sip, and reel the reel sometimes, often letting the mates do much of the reeling. The mates will then grab the fish, take the hook out, and put the “sport fisher” in position with the fish for a photo. Then a mate will often be the one to take the photo of somebody holding the fish he just caught.


So the sportfisher comes back and tells everyone he caught a great beast, but since the great beasts are disappearing, he was grand enough to let it go. Wow. Dude.


I do know people who really do battle these fish themselves, from fueling up the boats, to baiting the hooks, to hours sweating as they finesse a powerful giant to the boat without breaking the line, to gaffing it, hauling it in, killing it and then taking it home to their family or community. They kill the fish because this type of fisher usually does not go after endangered species that need to be released. They fish for food, and with their expert skill they target other species.


That is what the sport fishing industry should do. Forget about billfish, they are in danger. Catching billfish stresses the creature big time and only contributes to their problems. Or did you think this macho battle was easy on the fish?


Do you really need to catch billfish to release them? For what? To study them to find out why they are disappearing? There are a lot of other fish in the sea. You will be just as tough and cool catching those. Even better if you bring home some catch to feed the hungry.


The future of terrestrial big game conservation and economic generation was ecotourism, not tourists hunting lions and elephants and gazelle. The future of ocean big game moneymaking and protection will be adventure ecotourism, not catching and releasing endangered sailfish, marlin and sharks.


http://www.costacetacea.com/costaricanoceanslife/billfishrescuedive.html


Shawn Larkin All rights reserved. Copyright 2012. Alright.

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Costa Rican foolish fad of fishing FADs. Massive marine life slaughter of dolphins, whales, billfish, sharks and turtles!

clock January 24, 2012 09:47 by author BlueEcoBlog

FADs popular with marine life in Costa Rica’s oceans

Posted: The Tico Times, Friday, December 23, 2011 - By Shawn Larkin
THE BIG BLUE: Natural fish aggregating devices, or FADs, abound offshore of Costa Rica, attracting clouds of marine life.
FADS
Shawn Larkin

Divers check out a floating piece of tree, and the schools of fish drawn to it, off southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.

Those who ply the sea know floating things attract or aggregate fish. Fish aggregating devices, known as FADs, are often thought of as manmade objects, but that is not always the case.

Shawn Larkin

Shawn Larkin

For most of history, the fad in FADs was natural, in the form of forest products: a branch or a tree falls into a river and makes its way to the sea. Any Tico captain knows to be ever watchful for floating branches and tree trunks that can damage a prop or hull, especially during the high runoff of rainy season, even when far offshore. But jump in with a piece of tree in the sea and you may be shocked.

Vast clouds of marine life will surround floating things that are smaller than you. When you jump in, all the life will often surround you like moths to a flame. Sometimes people jump right back in the boat when they realize there is no reef to dive down to. But you are the reef, and there may be so many fish surrounding you that you cannot see someone right next to you. 

FADs offshore of southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula often draw diver favorites like silky sharks and manta rays, two species recently declared endangered. Super- and megapods of dolphins become natural FADs, and they check out other FADs. 

Why do many whales and dolphins, more than 300 species of fish like sharks, rays and billfish, all sea turtle species and countless crustaceans, seaweeds, invertebrates and other marine life hang out at natural and manmade FADs? Structure, protection, food and social opportunities seem to be the big attractions. Life like seaweed and barnacles quickly starts growing on almost all floating things. Other life shows up to eat what’s there. Still others may come for a bit of shade or a place to hide. Then come bigger things, and then even bigger things. A lot of marine life seems programmed with the instinct to check out FADs, probably because of the good chances to find lunch or a mate, or to not be eaten.

So where you have FADs, you have a lot of marine life. The longer the FAD is in the water, the more life it accumulates. Places with a lot of rivers and forests produce many natural FADs year-round, but mostly during rainy season and severe weather. The rivers of Costa Rica run full of FADs that will later drift many kilometers out to sea and grow their own clouds of marine life.

Natural FADs probably increase Costa Rica’s marine biodiversity and bioproductivity more than most people realize. Other places that are not so blessed with natural FADs make their own for local artisan and sport fishers and divers. Hawaii put in a system of FADs offshore of the islands in the 1970s. Today, each one of these many manmade FADs produces thousands of kilograms of fish a year with no by-catch, as well as recreation for local communities.

The purse seine commercial fishing industry also deploys manmade FADs, but on a massive scale over the entire Pacific. After the FADs grow their clouds of life, the ships put it all in a net. If they find a natural FAD, they do the same thing. This has a rather different outcome than the Hawaiian method.

The Hawaiian way kills no marine life other than food fish, and the local communities get the food and money the FAD generates. The Costa Rican purse seine netters’ way destroys the entire marine chain of life around the FAD, and no money or food goes to local Costa Ricans.

That is one fad I hope will end soon.

Click here to catch the newest fad in diving and dive a fad.

 http://www.costacetacea.com/bluewaterpelagicdive.html

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Costa Rica may abolish marine parks! Let the extraction begin!

clock August 24, 2011 17:11 by author BlueEcoBlog

A new bill would open up national parks to take things from them.

A small group of people from a port and commercial fishing city on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica want to open all Costa Rican parks to fishing. They say that there is fish in there that poor local people need to catch right now. Plus imagine all the hammerheads you could catch at Cocos Island National Park. Why not?

There is some good money to be made in a quick clearing of the shelves of our national parks. When the all the big fish are soon gone then the local communities could start getting little ones!

In Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, a marine protected area where people fish anywhere they want, any long time diver or fisher can tell you that most of the big reef fish are long gone. Sons know they will no longer catch as much as their fathers but so what, there are still a few little fish to see and eat. Its not over yet!

Cocos and Caño Island protected areas, where there are large no take zones, are full of big fish and lots of other marine life. Time to take care of that!

Why not duplicate this all over? It could be be fun. When very few people can make a living fishing and diving and with support restaurants and hotels, because most of the fish are gone, and marine tourists go to Panama, everyone should be able to find new jobs quickly, even if you have to go to Panama. Panama has a totally different plan: keep the tourists and fish in Panama and send the commercial fisherman to Costa Rica before the crazy firesale is over.

What       are they thinking?

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