What do we even call this whole debacle going on for sportboats and private boaters trying to fish Northern Baja within 24 miles of land? It goes so far beyond the FMM (not a visa) issues that brought in this season.
The most recent saga has no sportboats fishing the Coronados or northern Baja, and skiffs that make the decision to fish the islands have been in a guessing game.
It all comes on the heels of the Mexican Navy “kicking out” all the boats fishing the Coronados. But the issues are so much deeper than that and go back way past the requirement for an FMM and the now defunct MX Tour Assist sprouting up.
I’m working on a big story for next week. The feature writer, columnist, salt reports caps are not getting put on for a while.
Here are some points that sources have helped pass along to go with what I know about the issue.
1) Prior to the Friday “kick out” at the Coronados, the first incident was for the sportboat Sea Watch. It was on a snorkeling/fishing trip. The Mexican Navy asked to see their “snorkeling permit.” There is no such thing. The Sea Watch was told to leave…
2) There is a permit called a SCT. It is issued by a department that handles ports, waterways and transportation. This Nautical Tourism Permit is like what cruise ships have. Boats, as in long range boats, that do fly-down/fly-back and ride down, fly-back trips have the SCT already.
3) The FMM and the SCT are essentially an orchestrated plan by those in power in Mexico to “force” boats into Ensenada. Oh, the SCT requires that boats both check in and out of a Mexican port. This is not possible for ¾-day boats. Nor is it possible for SOLAS endorsed sportboats, like a portion of the long range fleet that fishes past zone two. U.S. Coast Guard regulations say that SOLAS vessels can not go into foreign ports.
3) Discussions on the issues with Mexican officials have turned up and attitude that “we” (as in the U.S.) make it tough for “them” (as in Mexican citizens) to come here, so why should “we” be able to go “there” so easily.
4) MX Tour Assist is no longer in business. Why did they sprout up in the first place? Word is that four very powerful officials said that MX Tour Assist will (or would) issue the FMM. (Or else essentially what is happening right now would be the way it is.) No landings are currently selling the FMM. Those trying to go to Tijuana to get the 180 day FMM have had varying degrees of success. Is that FMM even valid? It is seemingly impossible to get this FMM.
5) Private boaters can not get a SCT. Do they even need a FMM? Recent days have had no issues for boats fishing the islands.
The big question is why is all this happening? Is it from the economic crisis in Northern Baja? Sentiments like that of point 3? Is the SoCal fleet viewed as competition to the Mexican sport fleets?
As it is now, no sportboats are fishing the Coronados. Long rangers are not being allowed to fish Guadalupe Island. (Thank god for the best long range offshore season in almost a decade.) Skiff anglers are confused and scared about fishing in Mexico.
There are more questions than answers… there really are no answers, aside from “No” to any calls to the landings about fishing the Coronados on a ¾-day trip. In the meantime, any boats fishing Mexican waters are fishing outside of 24 miles.
Tomorrow’s blog will explore the issue even more and get a little deeper than the 5 overview points. One thing is for certain: the way “we” look at fishing in Mexico has been changed forever …