Peak danger times on boats include wiring billfish and gaffing and bringing aboard live, active fish such as dorado. You can also get hurt loading and unloading the boat with people, fuel and gear, working too close to fish that are near structure or shoreline, running at night or during bad weather, and fishing on congested grounds. As basic as it may sound, make sure you have plenty of water and food on board your charter boat. On a multiday trip to a remote island, my charter boat ran out of water but had plenty of beer aboard.
Some of the world's best fishing is located in emerging countries or isolated regions where pristine environments and healthy game-fish populations thrive. Traveling to such countries may require stops in high-risk locales, and you should be aware of these. The U.S. Department of State (www.travel.state.gov) issues travel warnings when public travel to a country is considered unsafe due to civil unrest, dangerous conditions, terrorist activity or lack of diplomatic relations that make it difficult to assist Americans in distress. Departments from many other countries, such as the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk/en), issue similar warnings and travel advice. Currently, the United States lists 31 countries on its warning list. Of these, 22 have ocean shorelines.
For example, Mexico is listed primarily for drug conflicts in border cities and crimes in Mexico City. However, tourism numbers declined throughout Mexico, including Baja and mainland ports. U.S. anglers seem to have mixed reactions regarding fishing in Mexico based on monitoring popular Internet fishing forums, such as www.bloodydecks.com, where heated debate continues to occur on the issue. Probably more appropriate, the U.K. advises against all but essential travel to "? parts of Mexico" as well as 32 other countries. The only country where all travel is advised against is Somalia.
The Department of State also issues travel alerts about short-term conditions within a country such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, and political or sporting events that may escalate into violence. Currently, Thailand, India, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Malaysia carry alerts. Thailand, long known for its hospitality and access to the Andaman Sea fishing grounds, raised concerns due to the ongoing political demonstrations in Bangkok. Travel to tourist areas outside Bangkok should be safe using caution and good judgment - a standard practice for experienced travelers.
In India and Malaysia, the threat of terrorist activity is of primary concern - violent crime against tourists, however, is uncommon.
On the sea, piracy has become a worldwide threat that affects not only the coasts of Africa, but also Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen and Venezuela. The Gulf of Aden remains a hot spot of piracy primarily due to Somalia, a country without an effective government. Most of the pirates in these waters direct their attacks against cargo vessels, but cruise ships also come under fire, as well as some smaller private yachts. What started as near-coast hijackings spread out to 300 miles into international waters, creating concern for the outer, southernmost islands of the pristine Seychelles, a popular fishing destination.
The Straits of Malacca, located between Indonesia and Malaysia, were long considered a center of piracy, but increased patrols have reduced the number of attacks to only a few per year. In Malaysia, the South China Sea off Tioman Island experienced some pirate activity. The southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of primary concern in the Philippines.