While last night’s United States Presidential debate ignored climate change, the biggest threat facing the world. World leaders continue to meet in India this week at the COP 11 (Conference of the Parties) hosted by the United Nations Environmental Program to discuss protecting biodiversity from complete collapse. Sport fishermen, especially anglers, are very aware of the impact overfishing, climate change and ocean pollution are having on fish stocks because they experience the problem first hand. Many are long time conservation advocates whose work has played a critical role in passing important legislation to safeguard our oceans.
This week Costa Rica passed major legislation to protect sharks, and as I discussed in yesterday’s blog, there is a major campaign underway to protect Sailfish populations in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of the few countries rolling up its sleeves and getting down to the business of executing the nuts and bolts of protecting biodiversity. It is one thing to talk about environmental problems, and quite another to sit down and figure out how to practically implement solutions to the vastly complicated problems facing our global society.
With water scarcity, declining agricultural productivity, climate change, and exhaustion of fish stocks, it is estimated that billions are needed to slow biodiversity loss. The United Nation’s Environmental Program’s report on biodiversity calls for conserving fish stocks. The cost is estimated to be between $800 million to $3 billion a year from 2013 to 2020. These costs far outweigh the direct economic benefits considering that global fisheries are worth $50 billion a year in revenue. In Costa Rica, sport fishing generates $200 million dollars a year in revenue. According to Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, protecting biodiversity should be regarded as an investment rather than a cost because it not only preserves valuable ecosystems but also generates jobs and preserves resources.
In today’s failing global economy, the economy and environment are being pitted in opposition to each other. Costa Rica demonstrates that this does not have to be the case. By making its economy directly dependent on environmental health through sport fishing and ecotourism, this country is one of the few nations making the conscious direct link to the fact that protecting the environment ensures economic prosperity. The two interests are not in conflict with each other but instead seen as interdependent. The many hotels, resorts and local businesses depend on a healthy environment in order to maintain a prosperous business.
Sport fishing depends on healthy fish stocks. For as long as there has been fishing, fishermen have implemented practices to preserve fish stocks and safeguard them from overfishing as a matter of common sense. There was an obvious understanding that if you overfish then the fish can not replenish and then there will be no fish, and no fish equals no food. Anglers spend so much time in the oceans that they understand this basic principle. It is a concept so simple that the six-year-old sitting next to me understands it. It is something to think about next time you head out to the vast waters with your rod in hand, and don’t forget to come visit us here at Crocodile Bay. We have some of the best Captains in the region.