A Brief History of Cozumel Deep Sea Fishing Charters
The Cozumel deep sea fishing charter business got started in the 1960’s when a group of American anglers first came down to test the waters and saw the great possibilities here.
At the time all the boats were wooden ones known as ‘motor sailors – not deep sea boats.
Then Luis de Hoyos, a New Yorker who owned a house here known as Casa de las Campanas brought down his Striker yacht and began inviting friends to fish with him.
De Hoyos, along with local hotelier and friend, Ramon Villanueva Martin put their heads together on ways to promote sport fishing in the area.
One of their plans that really panned out was to invite Herb Philips, founder of the famous Striker yacht company to come down and check out the waters. Philips liked what he saw and in 1965 convinced 20 Striker yacht owners to come down in a caravan from Key West. They arrived in March and were so enthusiastic about the fishing that a tournament was scheduled in May which became the first Rodeo de Lanchas, an exciting annual event that continues to this day.
Thanks to these early promotional efforts by De Hojos, Villanueva and others, word was getting out both in Mexico and internationally that Cozumel was a prime deep sea fishing destination.
However, in the 1960’s and 70’s the political climate was not conducive to the development of deep sea charter businesses. At the time the Mexican government was not aware of the commercial possibilities of this industry and there were some restrictions in place that made progress very difficult.
The largest obstacle that had to be overcome if a sport fishing industry was to thrive was to do away with the Articulo de Lujo, the luxury tax of 45% that was imposed on the importation of any fishing boats from outside Mexico. This made it prohibitively expensive to import vessels from the US where the best crafts were being manufactured.
Thanks to the tireless work and lobbying of people like Antonio Gonzalez Fernandez who was city mayor and director of the Rodeo tournament for many years, Ramon Villanueva Sr. and Jr., Alfonso Erosa, Javier Gonzalez Fernandez, Antonio’s brother and Joaquin de Iturbide, the Mexican government was made aware of the importance of the charter fishing industry and conditions became favorable for growth and development. And the tax for importation of foreign boats was reduced to 10%.
Today Cozumel’s sport fishing business is thriving and the yearly Rodeo tournament continues to draw hundreds of entrants.