Fish Fight

CLASHES BE­TWEEN LO­CAL BOATS AND AMER­I­CAN SPORT­FISH­ER­MEN IN THE DO­MINI­CAN REPUB­LIC COULD HAVE FAR-REACH­ING RAM­I­FI­CA­TIONS.

Power & Motor Yacht - - SPORTFISHING -

But while the FADS may be sim­ple, they are quite ef­fec­tive at their main mis­sion: at­tract­ing bait. The lo­cal panga fleet uses the FADS to tar­get dol­phin and jacks—prime food sta­ples in tem­per­ate wa­ters world­wide.

Savvy skip­pers quickly learned that blue mar­lin hang around the FADS as well, and in sur­pris­ing num­bers. These skip­pers be­gan mak­ing passes close to the FADS while trolling, with the afore­men­tioned im­pres­sive re­sults. But the prox­im­ity of the large Amer­i­can sport­fish­ers to the Do­mini­can ar­ti­sanal fleet cre­ated con­flict.

The ar­ti­sanal fish­er­men be­lieved that any fish hang­ing around the FADS rightly be­longed to them, since they had put the FADS out there in the first place. So, when a U.S. boat would hook a blue, the pan­gas be­gan mov­ing in to gaff the mar­lin for them­selves as the U.S. crew brought the fish close to the boat, some­times within a few feet of the larger boat’s tran­som.

This led to some ugly con­fronta­tions and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous boat-han­dling sce­nar­ios as the U.S. skip­pers tried to get the re­lease while the lo­cals at­tempted to har­vest the mar­lin right off the end of their lines.

“The lo­cal boats would sit there by the FADS wait­ing for a U.S. boat to hook up,” said Capt. John Du­das, who drives the 63-foot Spencer Sand­man. “Then they would come in and try to gaff the fish. They some­times got pretty ag­gres­sive and we heard of pan­gas bump­ing into U.S. boats as they tried to gaff the mar­lin.”

Meet­ings among the in­ter­ested par­ties were soon or­ga­nized to find a so­lu­tion to this grow­ing prob­lem. Boat own­ers and in­flu­en­tial mem­bers of the Do­mini­can fish­ing com­mu­nity de­vised a plan wherein the U.S. boats would con­trib­ute money to a fund that would be dis­trib­uted among the ar­ti­sanal fleet, with the goal of al­le­vi­at­ing the clashes. The lo­cal fish­er­men would be paid to let the U.S. fleet fish for blues around their FADS.

This plan worked to some de­gree, but not all of the boats on either side bought into the agree­ment, so some con­flict per­sisted. To help ease the ten­sion, some U.S. boats ne­go­ti­ated on-the-wa­ter set­tle­ments wherein they would sim­ply give the fish to the ar­ti­sanal boats af­ter they caught it.

By do­ing so, the con­flict was re­solved, but the mar­lin died in­stead of be­ing re­leased, creat­ing a glar­ing con­ser­va­tion is-

Cross­ing lines with lo­cals fish­ing for food can get dan­ger­ous.

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