On the heels of complaints from the San Diego sportfishing community, Mexico is moving to clarify the steps required to fish legally in its waters.
A new Mexican government website aims to help U.S. tourists understand the requirements of Mexican federal agencies, including customs, fisheries and immigration.
“The message is very clear. You are most welcome in Mexico because tourists are important in Mexico,” said Ana Luisa Fajer, director general for North America of Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat. “But at the same time there are very clear and specific rules and regulations.”
Fajer and other Mexican federal officials announced the new website on Tuesday at the Mexican Consulate in San Diego. They expect to launch it later this year.
On the website, visitors will learn rules such as Mexican customs’ requirement that visitors can bring up to four fishing rods into the country without paying duties. They will learn that they need to pay about $25 for a tourist visa from Mexico’s National Migration Institute. Rodulfo Figueroa, Mexico’s top federal immigration official in Baja California estimated that only 25 percent of those who come fishing in Mexico do so with the proper permit.
Failure to comply can result in an abrupt end to south-of-the-border fishing trips. The new website is expected to provide information about the rules and list specific sanctions that apply for those who violate them.
“Nautical tourists will be informed and know which documents they will need to go to Mexico with no hesitation,” said Alejandro Santander, a representative of Mexico’s Tourism Board.
The San Diego sportfishing fleet in recent years has expressed concern about the lack of clarity surrounding Mexico’s regulations. At a meeting in San Diego last year with Mexican authorities, boaters said they were confused about how to comply with Mexico’s tourist visa requirements.
Earlier this year, members of the sportfishing community raised the issue during a trip to Mexico City led by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“This was one of our priority issues,” said Paola Avila, director of the chamber’s Mexico Business Center. “We need to find a way to allow for an easy process to acquire the permits to fish there.”
Louis Almeida, president of the San Diego Anglers, a recreational fishing club with 400 members, applauded Tuesday’s move. “It would be very beneficial to have a one-stop shop,” he said. “Right now we go to multiple websites.”Fred Huber, co-owner of three sportfishing boats in San Diego, said those in the charter business are mindful of following Mexican regulations. “We’ve had to learn how to do it, because it’s our business,” he said. “We’re dealing with a foreign country, and we’re just thankful to be there.”