If you want to fish in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, there is only one way to do it legally and that is on a properly licensed boat with an operator licensed, by the Galápagos National Park , to practice “Vivencial Fishing”, in Spanish: “Pesca Vivencial”. For more information regarding the legality of fishing in the Reserve, see the page: Can You Fish in the Galápagos?” .
A primary distinction between Vivencial Fishing and Sport Fishing is that only fishermen of the Galápagos are eligible to apply for licensing from the Galápagos National Park. Even then, the number of licenses is strictly limited. Further distinctions, as set out in the Regulations include:
Vivencial Fishing is strictly “Catch & Release” except for a 50lb allowance which is more than enough for guests to enjoy a meal. All billfish must be released unharmed. The crew are not permitted to sell catch.
Vivencial Fishing can target all the major species except protected species including shark and rays
Vivencial Fishing includes all the regular “sport” methods, such as trolling, switch & bait, popping, jigging, fly-fishing as well as more traditional methods such as hand line fishing, at speed on the surface (for wahoo) or bottom fishing with “empate” (hand line wrapped around a small buoy). Spear fishing is not permitted
There has been some attempt to limit the (and cost) of the boats. Length is limited to 12.5m (41ft) but power limits are not well defined. Most use 4-stroke outboards but there are a few diesel boats.
Leodan is one of half a dozen boats, between 9 m and 11 m that visit the marlin banks. The smaller boats, which remain closer to shore are often referred to as the “Pesca Chica Boats” - Described more fully below.
Every Vivencial Fishing excursion must be accompanied by a Naturalist Guide, licensed by the Galápagos National Park.
The hours of operation are limited to 6:00AM to 6:00PM
In essence, Vivencial Fishing brings you the same challenge and excitement you normally associate with Sport Fishing but subject to special regulations developed by the Park for the Galápagos Marine Reserve.
People here generally characterize the fishing as either:
But that’s only a general guideline. Pesca Altura boats do inshore as well as offshore fishing - Often on the same excursion, depending on what’s biting.
The Pesca Chica boats are smaller, less expensive to operate, tend to stay inshore, do half or 3/4 days and are correspondingly less expensive to charter.
Pesca Chica generally means fishing in shallow waters either off the coast of San Cristóbal or on neighbouring islands such as Española, Santa Fé or Floreana.
The Pesca Altura boats are bigger, cost more to operate, travel further offshore, generally offer only full days and cost more to charter.
Although smaller boats are perfectly capable, Pesca Altura is dominated by the bigger, faster, more comfortable - And more expensive boats. But the Pesca Altura boats are equally adept and happy to offer Pesca Chica.
Vivencial Fishing is “Catch and Release”. Each excursion may retain 50 lbs of fish for the benefit of the guests and may not sell any catch. Furthermore, the Regulations require that all PAV crew are licensed local commercial fishermen. On a day of Vivencial Fishing, the crew will extract only a fraction of the fish they would have had they been fishing commercially.
Vivencial Fishing provides local fishermen with an ecologically sustainable alternative to commercial fishing and a stake in genuine “Eco-Tourism”.
Marco: Captain of "Toby"...
Shares the excitement of Vivencial Fishing
Barely 5% of income generated by tourism in Galápagos remains in the community. Galápagos tourism is dominated by the Luxury Cruise operators. Insofar as these corporations are overwhelmingly owned and managed by corporations outside the community, and even outside Ecuador, they represent the antithesis of “Eco-Tourism”.
For decades now, there has been extraordinary pressure to open the market to well financed and politically connected Sport Fishing operators. But if that that door is opened, community based Vivencial Fishing will rapidly give way to offshore based luxury Sport Fishing and the tourist-fishing market will rapidly go the way of Cruises with maximised external profit and minimal local benefit. Vivencial Fishing acts as a bulwark against invasion and subsequent domination of the market by outsiders.
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