For one sunglass manufacturer, conservation is all about sustainable fishing; and the company works with partners around the world to help increase awareness and influence policy so that both the fish and fishermen of tomorrow will have healthy waters.
More than 30 years ago, a group of anglers banded together with a goal to build the clearest, best performing sunglasses, able to withstand harsh fishing environments. Costa continues today with a mission to not only help people see what’s out there, but to protect sustainable sport fishing at the same time.
In 2011, Costa began its partnership with music star Kenny Chesney to design a signature line of sunglasses with proceeds from the sale of each pair benefiting habitat restoration programs with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). The program has raised more than $80,000 since it began.
Costa also recently worked with its partner, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), to develop and support Project Permit — a five-year tagging program designed to collect never-before-seen data on permit fish in Florida and the Caribbean. Since its inception, Project Permit has expanded into Mexico. The program is starting to see an increase in tag returns, which will help provide important research to inform future fishery policies and regulations.
In 2012, Costa helped open the first sport fishing tourism program in Guyana, a first of its kind in the country. As seen in the award-winning film, Jungle Fish, the Rewa village on the Rupununi River now has the capacity to bring fly anglers in to fish for monster arapaima, creating jobs and generating sustainable economic development for the region. Since opening, the sport fishing lodge has remained at capacity, hosting up to 24 fly fishing anglers per year. Recently, the program won a $500,000 grant from Compete Caribbean, with the goal to expand the sport fishing tourism efforts to several other villages in Guyana. Exploratory efforts are taking place to learn how this sustainable sport fishing program can be introduced to other parts of the world.
Currently, as a support partner to OCEARCH — a shark tagging research program aiming to replace fear with facts — Costa helps develop and collect all of the multimedia content from each expedition. The content is then shared online allowing educators, scientists and shark enthusiasts alike to take part in important conversations about one of the planet’s top predators. In 2014, OCEARCH is on a mission to South America, visiting the Galapagos Islands, Chile, and Brazil to expand its tagging efforts to include yellow fin tuna, wahoo, rainbow runner, skip jack, White sharks and Tiger, Hammerhead, Bull, Blacktip and Silky sharks, among other species.
An important part of Trout Unlimited’s (TU) expanding Youth Education efforts, the “5 Rivers” program organizes campus groups to provide students an opportunity to learn fly casting and fly tying and also to participate in off-campus volunteer activities on the members’ home waters. Costa worked with TU to develop the program, which now boasts chapters at 26 colleges and universities.
For the past five years Costa has hosted a now-legendary “party with a purpose” on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. Instead of marketing at other people’s events, Costa decided to control the vibe. The event brings national acts to a music festival to raise money for sport fishing programs. Since the event began, thousands of University of Alabama students have helped raise more than $200,000 for groups including The Billfish Foundation and Coastal Conservation Association. Costa also works to support the Center for Coastal Conservation and the Turneffe Atoll Trust to protect the Belize fishery.
“In order for the sport fishing industry to continue to grow, we must work together to protect the resources and attract new people into the sport,” said Costa president Chas MacDonald. “Without the fish, there are no anglers. Protect the fish, and they will keep the anglers participating in the sport and growing the business opportunities.”