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Which Way Will New Head of NMFS Sway On Longline Closed Zone?

Appointed in June with support from over 55 commercial fishing companies and organizations, the new Assistant Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has a number of pressing issues to attend. Chris Oliver, formerly Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has three decades of fisheries management experience ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska.

Now that NMFS has a new leader, a decision is approaching on whether to grant requested Exempted Fishing Permits (EFP) in the longline closed zone off Florida’s east coast.

The closed zone was created in response to the need to provide protection to juvenile swordfish in their nursery area and to reduce billfish bycatch. The area has been closed to longline fishing for 16 years. Those applying for an EFP to conduct longlining in the area hope to assess the progress that’s been made. The worry is that granting research permits will open the door to granting commercial fishing permits. TBF has maintained that eradicating the conservation progress made in those 16 years by once again allowing longlines is contradictory.

In his letter to stakeholders and partners, Oliver said he himself is an “avid sportsman, and appreciates the contributions of anglers to conservation and coastal economies.” This may be a positive for the recreational fishing community, and our interests in maintaining the closed zone off Florida’s east coast. However, the long list of commercial fishing interests who endorsed Oliver also raises concern that he may be inclined to approve the Exempted Fishing Permit to allow commercial fishing back in the closed zone.

The public comment period for this issue closed in March, so a decision is expected in the near future.

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Draft Management Plans for Australia Allows for Recreational Fishing

Billfishing is Not Prohibited in Australia

July 21, 2017 – Today Australia’s government released five Draft Management Plans for the Marine Parks within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a UNESCO designated World Heritage site. The accompanying announcement included recognition of the iconic black marlin’s annual aggregations near Osprey Reef and a statement that 97% of the waters will be open to recreational fishing.

In recent years, large environmental organizations convinced Australia’s government to create an expansive 192,000 square mile network of marine reserves to restrict activities in the Park. All of us in the sportfishing industry remained greatly concerned for the distinctions in surface trolling techniques and the highly migratory nature of billfish never seemed to be understood in all the meetings and government documents.

Click on the image to enlarge the map.

Australian anglers, captains and related sportfishing eco-tourism businesses rallied time and again to oppose the closure of all their valued fishing grounds. TBF called upon our members outside Australia to send comments supporting the great Australian billfishing fishery for which we are grateful. Public comments on the Draft Management Plans will be accepted through September 20, 2017. TBF will share our comments once we submit our comments. See included map of the Coral Sea Marine Park. Green areas denote where fishing is not allowed.

We at TBF will review the Draft Management Plans and share our suggested comments to the Australian government with you. We are also monitoring development of specifics to the Reef 2050 Plan, a 35 year management framework for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Thank you for your participation, if you are not a TBF member, now is the time to join and help insure billfishing opportunities remain available. http://membership.billfish.org/

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Electronic Monitoring

The Enormous Possibilities (And Costs) for Electronic Monitoring at Sea

As fisheries regulations develop, there is often the need for enforcement of compliance—enforcing gear restrictions, enforcing size limits, enforcing the return of non-target species, and ultimately enforcing the law. Ensuring compliance with such regulations on the high seas, however, is easier said than done. Some vessels can spend months at sea, beyond the jurisdiction of any nation, and even when vessels are within national waters their activities are so distant from land and the law that much can go unnoticed.

Observer programs attempt to shrink the room for lawlessness by employing a person to watch the day-to-day operations of a fishing vessel. The presence of an observer, employed by the government to monitor compliance and report any illegal activity, in some cases can be enough to promote the desired adherence to regulations. Other times, though, observers can be coerced so that the vessel’s illicit behavior remains under the radar.

A new strategy has been in development recently, and is becoming a viable solution. Electronic monitoring (EM) of vessels is exactly what it sounds like: technology like GPS and video take the place of an observer to record a vessel’s movements and the crew’s actions. The idea is that technology is unfazed by bribes or threats, and if the costs of not cooperating are high enough, all vessels will comply.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Much of the impetus for improving the feasibility of EM is the growing menace of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU). Up to $23 billion of seafood makes it to the global markets each year, undermining legal fishermen and regional attempts at sustainable fisheries regulations. IUU fishing includes using trawl nets in an area where the gear is restricted, keeping fish that are below the minimum size limit, cutting the fins off sharks but returning their bodies to the sea, and entering protected areas or zones off-limits to fishing, to name a few.

An initiative to publicize the movement of fishing vessels all over the world resulted in the website Global Fishing Watch. The interactive map uses the Automatic Identification System (AIS) of commercial fishing vessels, transmitted by satellite, to show location. Originally used as a safety measure to avoid collisions and disaster, AIS is now being utilized for monitoring: if a vessel suddenly disappears from the map, or a fishing vessel is seen trespassing a protected area, or appears in the Himalayan Mountains, then something suspicious is going on.

As with observers, this technology is incomplete. Vessels may turn off their AIS, broadcast a false location, or simply not be required to use such a device. However, more and more international maritime bodies are requiring AIS for vessels, and if activity appears suspicious it may be reported.

Global Positioning System

While technology is helping to close the loopholes, it is still unclear how to ensure the global fleet of fishing vessels places cameras or GPS onboard, and how to fund it all. The unobtainable 100% observer coverage may be expensive, but cameras are also pricey, with the up front costs of setup and the long term costs of transferring video, storing the high definition footage, and paying someone to watch reels of video.

A solution must be found to refine the technology and to develop an algorithm that will allow cameras to accurately recognize particular fish—identifying yellowfin tuna, swordfish, blue marlin being pulled aboard and even in the distance—and refine this technique so that the camera captures only the activities of interest. Questions remain: would the fish have to be in the center of the frame? What about night operations with limited lighting? And can this tool or algorithm be precise enough to distinguish the confusing life stages of fish, where juveniles of one species may look like the adults of another? Despite the uncertainty, developments in EM continue as fishery management organizations and nonprofits test the technology.

At the center of this endeavor, and controversy, is the question of whether the seas need policing. Unfortunately this has become the case as too many fleets attempt to catch too few fish. Regulations are needed to protect spawning fish stocks, prevent access to sensitive ecosystems, minimize habitat damage, and maintain populations of the species we love to catch and eat. Additionally, considering the massive amount of IUU fishing taking place across the world, monitoring is needed to ensure these regulations are followed and fishery resources sustained. As technology continues to become more efficient and comparable to human capabilities, electronic monitoring may prove crucial to managing our global fisheries. The solution, however, will likely be a hybrid of technology and observers.

If you’d like to see more on this topic, consider becoming a member of The Billfish Foundation to support our work.

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Tag & Release Competition UPDATE!

 We may still be highlighting last year’s award winners, but the Tag & Release Competition update as it stands. Don’t forget, these positions will be shifting constantly until the final deadline, October 31, especially now that the kiddos are out of school and hitting it hard! Check out the link for full details and rules. www.billfish.org/competition/

 

As of 7/6/17

Overall Release Captain

  1. Ronnie Fields
  2. Dean Panos
  3. Brad Philipps
  4. Edward Bairez
  5. Victor Julio Lopez Pizarro

 

Overall Tagging Captain

  1. Pete Wishney
  2. Tim Richardson
  3. Bouncer Smith
  4. Doug Covin
  5. Jaime Gonzalez

 

Overall Release Angler

  1. Scott Kozak
  2. Gray Ingram
  3. John Duvall
  4. Jacob Lepera
  5. Bill Pino

 

Overall Tagging Angler

  1. Jacob Lepera
  2. Marco Couto
  3. Mike Mason
  4. Hugo Van Dunem
  5. Nicolas Pariset

 

Overall Release Lady Angler

  1. Samantha Johns Mumford
  2. Camila Sanches
  3. Skylar Vallancourt
  4. Lisa Everett

 

Overall Tagging Lady Angler

  1. Luena Amaro
  2. Skylar Vallancourt
  3. Dawn Samuels
  4. Martha Macnab
  5. Denise Wishney

 

Overall Release Youth Angler

  1. Billy Carson
  2. Parker Brown
  3. Shawn MacMullin

 

Overall Tagging Youth Angler

  1. Nuno Abohbot
  2. Darren Philipps
  3. Hefner Appling
  4. Billy Carson
  5. Shawn MacMullin

 

 

Top Tagging Angler- Atlantic

Blue Marlin

  1. Charles Cooke
  2. Chris Pakarinen
  3. Jean Paul Bonnin
  4. Rene Bonneval
  5. Louie Selen

Sailfish

  1. Jacob Lepera
  2. Marco Couto
  3. Hugo Van Dunem
  4. Nicolas Pariset
  5. Luena Amaro

Top Release Angler- Atlantic

Blue Marlin

  1. Garrett Penley
  2. Bill Pino
  3. Chris Pakarinen

Sailfish

  1. Jacob Lepera
  2. Skylar Vallancourt
  3. J.R. Bergeron
  4. Eric Hull
  5. Justin Curry

White Marlin

  1. Ernesto Vazquez

Top Tagging Captain- Atlantic

Blue Marlin

  1. Tim Richardson
  2. Olaf Grimkowski
  3. Sean Young
  4. Corey Hurst
  5. Stephane Millez

Sailfish

  1. Bouncer Smith
  2. Fernando Duarte
  3. Doug Covin
  4. Rogerio Matos
  5. Jose Silva

Swordfish

  1. Nick Stanczyk

White Marlin

  1. Tim Richardson
  2. Doug Covin

Top Release Captain- Atlantic

Blue Marlin

  1. Tim Richardson
  2. Sean Young
  3. Chuck Gregory

Sailfish

  1. Dean Panos
  2. Doug Covin
  3. Jacob Lepera
  4. Chip Sheehan
  5. Matt Rabenstine

 

White Marlin

  1. Dennis Endee
  2. Doug Covin

 

Top Tagging Angler- Pacific

Black Marlin

  1. Aaron Adkins
  2. Bill Boyle
  3. David Richardson

Blue Marlin

  1. Bob Ballenger
  2. Jeff Citron
  3. Denise Wishney
  4. Rich Palys
  5. Chris Brown

Sailfish

  1. Jeff Citron
  2. John Henry David
  3. Darren Philipps
  4. Hefner Appling
  5. Becky Broadbent

Striped Marlin

  1. John Duvall
  2. Blake Quinn
  3. Richard Crowell
  4. Bill Savage
  5. Martha Macnab

 

Top Release Angler- Pacific

Blue Marlin

  1. Gray Ingram

Sailfish

  1. Scott Kozak
  2. Gray Ingram
  3. John Duvall
  4. Bill Pino
  5. Samantha Johns Mumford

 

Striped Marlin

  1. John Duvall

 

Top Tagging Captain- Pacific

Black Marlin

  1. Tim Richardson
  2. Craig Denham

Blue Marlin

  1. Pete Wishney
  2. Ronnie Fields
  3. Chris Choy
  4. Chris Van Leeuwen
  5. Bret Hawes

Sailfish

  1. Jerry Lanzerotti
  2. Sean Swetman
  3. Brad Philipps
  4. Cliff Mountain
  5. Bobby McGuinness

Striped Marlin

  1. Jaime Gonzalez
  2. Sean Holden
  3. Lupe Gomez
  4. Julio Cota
  5. Horace Barge

Spearfish

  1. Chris Choy

 

Top Release Captain- Pacific

Blue Marlin

  1. Ronnie Fields
  2. Gavilan Cordoba
  3. Brett Alty

 

Sailfish

  1. Ronnie Fields
  2. Brad Philipps
  3. Edward Bairez
  4. Victor Julio Lopez Pizarro
  5. Daniel Espinoza

 

Striped Marlin

  1. Lupe Gomez
  2. Nathan Brown
  3. Ronnie Fields

 

 

Top Tagging Angler – Indian

Black Marlin

  1. Mike Mason

 

Blue Marlin

  1. Batias Crais
  2. Mike Mason
  3. Callum Looman
  4. Scott MacGowan

 

Sailfish

  1. Mike Mason
  2. Callum Looman
  3. Dale Moore
  4. Batias Crais
  5. Bruce Horner

 

Top Tagging Captain- Indian

Black Marlin

  1. Perry Rosalie
  2. Randy Bradley
  3. Darryn Du Plessis
  4. Bomber Farrell

Blue Marlin

  1. Adam Ogden
  2. Perry Rosalie
  3. Darryn Du Plessis
  4. Randy Bradley
  5. Scott MacGowan

Sailfish

  1. Rolly Pierre
  2. Perry Rosalie
  3. Randy Bradley
  4. Ethan Donnelly
  5. Bomber Farrell

 

Swordfish

  1. Randy Bradley

 

Youth Division (Tag)

11 – 12

  1. Rafael Abohbot

13 – 15

  1. Hefner Appling
  2. Oliver Hoffman
  3. Kaleb Richardson
  4. Wil Cunningham

16 – 17

  1. Nuno Abohbot Jr.
  2. Billy Carson
  3. Shawn MacMullin
  4. Toby Mason

 

Youth Division (Release)

16 – 17

  1. Billy Carson
  2. Parker Brown
  3. Shawn MacMullin

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The Billfish Foundation Announces 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA – June 20, 2017 – Today, The Billfish Foundation (TBF), the world’s leading sportfishing conservation organization for marlin, sailfish, spearfish and associated highly migratory fish, announces this year’s winners of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards and its Club of Excellence Awards.  The Lifetime Achievement Awards are named in honor of three distinguished gentlemen who made exemplary contributions to advancing billfish research and conservation throughout their lives. The Club Award is in recognition of big game fishing clubs that have contributed to the conservation and management of billfish and other species, responsible sportfishing fishing and support of TBF.

Photo courtesy of IGFA

THE WINTHROP P. ROCKEFELLER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will be presented to Michael L. Farrior from Rancho Santa Fe, CA for his lifelong extensive volunteer work to advance responsible fishing practices, youth fishing opportunities, fishing trips  for recuperating military patients and his dedication to researching and capturing fishing history for anglers worldwide.  He is a long-time member of the oldest fishing club still in existence, the Tuna Club of Avalon and serves on the board of directors of the International Game Fish Association.

THE JOHN RYBOVICH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will be presented to Captain Peter B. Wright from Stuart, FL for his lifelong commitment to responsible fishing practices, his world renowned achievements as a sportfishing captain and his demand for credible science based management and conservation. Peter introduced TBF to the conservation benefits of using non-offset circle hooks and helped secure the means for TBF to distribute thousands of the hooks to anglers and captains.  Peter is a long-time member of TBF, who supports the organization in numerous ways.

Photo courtesy of IGFA

THE PAXSON H. OFFIELD LIFETIME SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT WARD will be presented to Dr. Eric Prince from Niceville, FL for his 30 plus year career as a billfish scientist, who provided the science voice that convinced Rockefeller of the need for TBF.  Prince spearheaded the first international Atlantic billfish research program, gave impetus to TBF expanding traditional tagging and later satellite tagging, and he was one of two scientists who launched the first archival tagging program for Atlantic bluefin tuna and for years often provided the only science voice for billfish.

CLUB of EXCELLENCE AWARD

TBF is honoring the 83 year old West Palm Beach Fishing Club and its members, who have advanced projects and practices that benefitted fish conservation and science for many species, including billfish.  In the 1950s and 1960s, the Club worked with Dr. Frank Mather at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to help establish and maintain its Cooperative Gamefish Tagging Program. The Club’s Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in marine biology at Palm Beach Atlantic University and Florida Atlantic University. The Club also supports environmental and marine science-oriented students at three area high schools and is a partner with a three-day hands-on educational fishing event for youth, who otherwise would not have the opportunity.

TBF is honoring the 58 year old Hatteras Marlin Club, known for its annual Blue Marlin Release Tournament, which began in 1960 with a focus on inter-club friendly competition with competitors representing Club Nautico de San Juan, Miami Rod & Reel Club, the Annapolis Yacht Club, Atlantic Anglers and the Atlantic City Tuna Club, and others. In addition to being recognized for furthering fishing club camaraderie, the Club is being honored for its commitment to advancing billfish and other fish conservation, responsible fishing ethics and the introduction of today’s youth to those values and practices.  The Club members’ continuous support of TBF has allowed for the continuation of billfish research and advocacy for responsible policy to continue.

Award presentations will be made during TBF’s annual gala on Friday, November 3, 2017 at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida.

TBF is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization created in 1986 by anglers to insure the advancement of billfish research needed to support healthy stocks of fish so great sportfishing opportunities would remain available worldwide.

 

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What Is the Port State Measures Agreement and Why Does It Matter?

Seafood is big business. Not only is it an industry that exchanges billions of dollars in trade globally, but the sector also trades an abundance of resources that contribute to food security and livelihoods across the world. When there’s money to be made, though, naturally there will be some bad players. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a shadowy component of global fisheries with its roots in lack of enforcement. It can take the form of fishing in a protected zone, taking more than is allowed, taking protected species, or fishing by one nation in another’s exclusive waters. The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that IUU fishing is responsible for catching up to 26 million tons of fish each year, or a cost of $10-$23 billion.

IUU fishing thrives due to the vastness of the seas and the limited enforcement capabilities of nations. Flag States, the nation to which a vessel is registered, are supposed to be accountable for the responsible fishing of their vessels. However, when a flag State fails to ensure its vessels are being held to international standards or lacks the willingness or funds for supervision, IUU fishing may occur. Illegal catch of some species, such as the Patagonian toothfish (also known as the Chilean Seabass), has reached massive proportions. IUU fishing undermines conservation efforts by every level of fisheries management – from the local fishing community trying to sustain their livelihoods to the international bodies working to put a cap on exploitation.

To combat the opportunities for IUU fishing to take place, the FAO introduced the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSMA), which was adopted in 2009. Port State refers to the nation to which a port belongs (e.g. the USA for Port of Miami), and the PSMA aims to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by implementing robust measures in port States, where vessels bring their catch to sell it. The goal is for nations to adopt tight legislation that makes no room for IUU fishing.

Under the PSMA, vessels not flying the flag of the port State who seek to come to port or are already in that nation’s port are subject to providing catch documentation to prove they were not engaged in IUU fishing. Specifically, a port State may deny access to ports, conduct port inspections, prohibit the landing and shipment of the catch, and ultimately lead to detention and sanction against a vessel involved in IUU fishing. The flag State is also given more responsibility of their own vessels, since the PSMA requires the flag State to take actions, at the request of the port State, when vessels flying their flag have been found to engage in IUU fishing.

It is clear why global acceptance is needed to make this agreement successful: if one State denies a suspected IUU vessel access to its port but a nearby State is willing to accept the IUU catch, perhaps for a fee, illegal fishing will continue. However, if there is a concerted effort to deny IUU vessels access to ports and therefore the seafood market, the crime will be squeezed out.

This is an explicit goal of the PSMA: to create a global, coordinated effort against IUU fishing. The agreement encourages information sharing and has developed a record of IUU vessels. Cooperation will be achieved particularly through regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), who can assist port States and other member States in harmonizing efforts and implementing their own requirements.

In the Pacific Ocean, where pelagic species such as tuna and billfish abound, the United States Coast Guard works with Australia and New Zealand to conduct inspections of vessels. Such enforcement is enabled through the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), an RFMO that has adopted stringent IUU regulations and given member States the authority to inspect the documentation of registered vessels.

Some countries have adopted even stricter language than the PSMA calls for, prohibiting trade with any country that does not have port state measures in place. The European Union has refused imports from Chile by citing the PSMA, and IUU fishing of Patagonian toothfish has been significantly reduced with the adoption of PSMA measures in South American countries.

Although IUU fishing is an issue of global scale, shrinking the efforts to focus on ports—where every vessel must eventually take their catch to bring it to market—makes the challenge feel surmountable. Many have high hopes for the PSMA to effectively eradicate IUU fishing, but it will certainly require a coordinated effort worldwide.

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Bluefin Tuna Harvest Quota Closes For the Year In Gulf of Mexico

The National Marine Fisheries serviced announced that the recreational bluefin tuna harvest in the Gulf of Mexico has reached its quota and will close June 7, 2017 until the end of the year (December 31, 2017).

This sub-quota for the region is a recent development that TBF helped push for — prior to a division of the southern bluefin quota, the full allocation was landed before ever reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Ellen Peel, Director of The Billfish Foundation, said the excitement of several teams who brought in a trophy-sized bluefin this year in Alabama was unmistakable. Many praised NMFS and TBF for securing the distinct allocation.

Based on reported landings, NMFS determined that the angling category of bluefin tuna subquota has been reached for the year. In a newsletter they state, “Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT in the Gulf of Mexico by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on June 7, 2017.”

Only catch and release fishing for bluefin tuna is permissible in the Gulf of Mexico effective tomorrow. NMFS regulations require that all bluefin tuna should be handled in a manner that maximizes their survival, and without being taken out of the water.

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Gulf of Mexico Quota Adjusted After Bluefin Tuna Landing 

The quota for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico has been updated after a large individual was landed in a fishing tournament last week.

Katie Gonsoulin pulled in a 502.4-pound bluefin tuna while fishing on Done Deal at the Orange Beach Billfish Classic in Alabama. The remaining trophy fish quota for Gulf anglers is now approximately one metric ton, or about 1,150 pounds (whole weight). This subquota is part of the larger quota granted to the United States by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), a regional fisheries management body that conducts stock assessments and sets limits on catch of tuna and tuna-like species, including marlin and sailfish.

Gonsoulin’s fish won the tuna division, also earning her the Top Lady Angler award, and Done Deal became the first boat to ever weigh a bluefin tuna at the wharf in Orange Beach.

The Orange Beach Billfish Classic raises the most money in support of The Billfish Foundation’s mission for conservation than any other tournament.

More results from the 2017 OBBC tournament can be seen here.

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Advancement of Billfish Conservation Act – A Partial Step Forward

 

On May 18, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advanced Section 396, an amendment to the 2012 Billfish Conservation Act. The bill, initially introduced in February by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), was passed favorably without amendment during an executive session.

Section 396 adds that billfish caught in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are not to be sold or transported to the U.S. mainland.

The Billfish Foundation applauds continuing efforts made by the Senate to eliminate the sale of Pacific billfish to the continental United States.  However, concerns still exist whether fish caught in Hawaii can continue be sold to other nations, as this would significantly diminish the bill’s impact on billfish conservation.

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Japan Signs Port State Measures Agreement In Fight Against IUU Fishing

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced Monday that Japan has joined 57 other States in signing on to the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

Entered into force in June of last year, the Agreement is an international effort aimed at eliminating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is responsible for billions in lost revenue each year. The oceans are vast and difficult to police, and the profit for seafood products can be significant, contributing to the appeal of IUU fishing. This often negates the effects of sustainable management and pilfers the opportunity for local communities to benefit from their resources.

The PSMA aims to shut down such activity by preventing those engaged in IUU fishing from bringing their catch to market. Through the Agreement, documentation is required to confirm the species and legality of the catch that a vessel has onboard and brings to port. If the documents do not add up, the State to which the port belongs (USA for Port of Miami) may refuse the catch. Of course, this is only effective if all nations sign on, or a vessel may simply relocate to another, less stringent, port.

Japan is an important State in the global seafood industry, as seafood is culturally important to the Japanese and contributes to a large portion of their diet. The nation produces on average 4.1 million tons of wild-caught seafood each year, but due to the high rates of consumption, they must also import. Japan is the world’s third largest importer of fish and fishery products, after the European Union and the United States. By being a part of the PSMA, Japan is agreeing to deny IUU fishing, as it pertains to its own vessels as well as imports from other nations.

In regards to billfish, these species are often caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations – those fish that are not targeted but get caught anyways, often thrown back to the sea dead. This is where unreported fishing can be a problem: billfish are not accounted for in the final reported catch but the populations are indeed being affected. Similarly, unregulated fishing can create a situation of limitless bycatch, putting those non-target species in danger. Illegal fishing can take several forms, including a vessel operating in a closed area, again threatening the species intended to be protected, such as billfish and the corresponding closures in the Gulf of Mexico.

As more nations sign on to the PSMA, it will be harder for IUU fishing to find access to the market, thereby making it unprofitable to engage in. The Billfish Foundation applauds Japan for acceding the PSMA and recognizes the importance for all nations to support an end to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The United States ratified the Agreement in February 2016. Other recent additions include Albania, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritania, Montenegro, and Senegal, all of whom acceded the PSMA this year.

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Closure Attempts in Prime Panamanian Sportfishing Areas

The Fishery Commission in Panama is striving to close waters around Montuosa Island and the Hannibal Bank to recreational fishing even though those areas include some of the most productive sportfishing in Panama. Local sources informed TBF staff that the movement appears to be targeting the actions of the former President, who supported recreational fishing, especially the sportfishing eco-tourism trade. Both local members of the recreational fishing community and captains from other nations living and charter fishing in Panama are working to persuade the Commission to modify its plans.

TBF’s socio-economic study in Panama documented that in 2011 (most recent data) that 86,250 visitors fished in Panama, who with the rest of their traveling companions spent $97 million on charter boats, fuel, food lodging and related expenses. The study also noted that the number of anglers visiting the nation had doubled since 2001 and so long as fishing remains great and anglers are informed the number should continue to increase.  The study also recorded that $170.4 million in total retail and business-to-business sales, 9,503 Panamanian jobs and increases in Gross Domestic Product of US $48.4 million were all related to sportfishing.

To learn more look at the links below or here.

 

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TBF Adding Two New Lifetime Achievement Awards

Two new lifetime achievement awards have been added to TBF’s annual recognition of excellence in advancing billfish conservation. The first new award is the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Individual Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of the late Winthrop Rockefeller, the founder of TBF. This award will recognize individuals, who have made a positive impact on the knowledge and character of sportfishing, boating, educational opportunities and youth fishing.

 

The second new award is the Paxson H. Offield Lifetime Billfish Science Award in honor of the late Paxson Offield, who was an exemplary supporter of billfish research. The award will recognize outstanding scientists, who have advanced billfish and other highly migratory fish science. TBF’s existing Rybovich Lifetime Service Award honors those who have worked diligently in support of billfish conservation and responsible fishing while serving as a member of organizations, or from platforms (fishing, advisory, media) or businesses in the sportfishing and boating world.

All of these awards will be presented to individuals during our annual fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale during the Fort Lauderdale Boat show in November.

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Call to Action on Forage Fish!

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has begun a Scoping Process to consider allowing giant trawlers to increase their excessive landings of forage species off the Mid-Atlantic region, specifically chub (Tinker) mackerel.   Knowing how important that species and the other forage fish are to support the recreational billfish and tuna fisheries NOW is the time to email your comments to the Council to Chris Moore.

For your convenience, we have created a draft letter for your reference to write your own letter or to email here. Attached is our official comments as well for your review.

If you can, please attend and voice your concerns at one of the scoping meetings:

  1. Monday, May 15, 2017, 6:00-7:30 pm.Virginia Marine Resources Commission 4th Floor Meeting Room. 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, VA, 23607. Telephone: 757-247-2200.
  2. Tuesday May 16, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm.Princess Royale Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center. 9100 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, MD, 21842. Telephone: 410-524-7777.
  3. Tuesday May 23, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pmCongress Hall Hotel. 200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ, 08204. Telephone: 888-944-1816.
  4. Wednesday May 24, 2017, 6:30-8:00 pm.University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium. 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI, 02882. Telephone: 401-874-6222.
  5. Wednesday May 25, 2017, 6:00-7:30 pmWebinar. Audio and visual access available at http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/chubscoping/. The webinar can also be accessed via phone by calling 1-800-832-0736, room #5068871.

 

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Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Adjustment

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has adjusted the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits that apply to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) effective April 30, 2017, through December 31, 2017, as follows:

In deciding these retention limits, NMFS considered the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include available quota, fishery performance in recent years, availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, and the effects of the adjustment on the stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and amendments. These limits should provide opportunities to harvest the available U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it; prevent overharvest of the 2017 quotas; and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

Who is affected?

These daily retention limits apply to vessels permitted in the recreational HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category while fishing recreationally. The daily retention limits are effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as BFT spawning grounds and where NMFS does not allow targeted fishing for BFT. Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip (e.g., whether a vessel takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day), no more than a single day’s retention limit may be possessed, retained, or landed.

NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely. HMS Charter/ Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the Android or iPhone app.  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

 NMFS regulations at 50 CFR 635.21(a)(1) require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize survivability, and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the “Careful Catch and Release” brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov or call (978) 281-9260.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

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ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA TROPHY ANGLING CATEGORY SOUTH AREA Closing March 20, 2017

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will close the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category fishery for large medium and giant “trophy” BFT (measuring 73” or greater) in the southern area effective 11:30 p.m. local time, Monday, March 20, 2017, through December 31, 2017.  The southern area is the area south of 39°18’N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ), outside the Gulf of Mexico.

Bluefin Tuna angling regions. South area (closed as of 3/20/17 to 12/31/17) highlighted in green.

Based on reported landings from the NMFS Automated Catch Reporting System and the North Carolina Tagging Program, NMFS projects that the codified Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota will be reached by March 20, 2017, and have determined that the trophy fishery should be closed in that area.  Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT south of 39°18’ N. lat. and outside the Gulf of Mexico by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on March 20, 2017.  The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota.  The annual Angling category trophy limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel remains in effect for vessels fishing in the northern area and in the Gulf of Mexico area.  The Angling category fishery for BFT measuring 27 to less than 73” is open except in the Gulf of Mexico.  Catch-and-release fishing is permissible as described below.

REMINDER: Federal Regulations at 50 CFR 635.21(a)(1): Atlantic highly migratory species… that is not retained must be released in a manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival, but without removing the fi­sh from the water.

Who is affected?

This closure applies to vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category fishing in the southern area (defined in bold above).  Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs.  NMFS regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water.

For additional information on safe handling, see the “Careful Catch and Release” brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the Android or iPhone app.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov or call (978) 281-9260.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

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TBF’s 2017 Artist of the Year – Dennis Friel

TBF proudly announces the selection of South Florida native Dennis Friel as its 2017 Artist of the Year.

“Combustion” by Dennis Friel

Dennis fondly recalls “as a kid growing up in South Florida fishing, surfing
and diving the waters from Palm Beach to the Keys, I always drew fish and the sea. To build those childhood experiences into a career has made me feel very fortunate.” As an avid tournament angler, Dennis’ ability to visually portray the saltwater lifestyle is unique. He also draws from his south Florida roots to discover new points of inspiration. Fusing both traditional and non-traditional methods into his paintings, illustrations and designs gives him the flexibility to render his concepts in a variety of mediums and methods. All of this comes together in his stunning painting “Combustion”
featured on this issue’s cover.

Dennis honed his craft by combining over 20 years of experience as both a Creative Director and a professional artist, which allowed him to complete work for some of the world’s leading sportfishing boats and marine businesses. He runs a fine art, illustration and design studio developed to create impactful imagery for the marine industry. Specializing in painting marine life and creating fine art prints and apparel, his goal is to keep pushing to set new standards in this field. Dennis’ growing reputation has led to his selection as the official artist for major fishing tournaments, including Jimmy Johnson’s 2013 National Billfish Tournament, the 2015 Custom Shootout and 2015 Ladies Annual Fish Off. His work also appears in industry publications, Florida Sport Fishing, Marlin World and Professional Yacht Broker.

Dennis with Coach Jimmy Johnson

A loving husband and father of two children, Dennis believes in conserving resources for future generations and holds close to his heart his commitment to support and conserve natural resources and fisheries.

TBF members who join or renew at $250 or more will receive a signed and numbered print of Friel’s “Combustion.”

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AMENDMENT 5b – Dusky Shark Protections – UPDATE

NMFS released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Amendment 5b to the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan in mid- February, 2017.  A new Preferred Alternative (A6d) “requires the use of non-stainless steel circle hooks by all HMS permit holders with a shark endorsement when fishing for sharks recreationally south of 41 degrees 43’ latitude, except when fishing with flies or artificial lures.”

In other words, if fishing for sharks with flies or artificial lures, circle hooks are not required.  But if you are fishing for sharks you must obtain a Shark Endorsement.

If you do not want to use circle hooks all the time and you are NOT targeting sharks, DO NOT check the Shark Endorsement box when renewing your annual HMS Angling Vessel Permit or HMS Charter/Headboat Permit.  If you land sharks, you are assumed to be targeting sharks and need the Shark Endorsement and are required to use circle hooks unless fishing with flies or artificial lures.

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DEBATE on BILLFISH CONSERVATION ACT

The 2012 Billfish Conservation Act (BCA) has yet to be implemented and again is under Congressional review to attempt to resolve debated language so no Pacific billfish can be imported into the continental U.S.  The BCA  language in question follows.

Sec. 2 – Findings

Congress finds the following:

Subsection (3) – “Ending the importation of foreign-caught billfish for sale in the United States  aligns with U.S. management measures of billfish and protects significant economic benefits to the U.S. economy of recreational fishing and marine commerce and the traditional cultural fisheries.”

Was the legislative intent in (3) to stop importation and sale of only foreign-caught billfish?

If prohibiting the sale of foreign-caught billfish aligns with protecting significant economic benefits to the traditional cultural fisheries, does that imply the US fishing vessels (non-foreign) are the traditional cultural fisheries in Hawaii and in the Pacific Insular Areas (PIA) that the Act was to protect, along with the other 2 U.S. interests listed?

 

Sec. 4. Prohibition on sale of billfish

(a) Prohibitions

“No person shall offer for sale, sell, or have custody, control, or possession of for purposes of offering for sale or selling billfish or products containing billfish.”

(c) Exemptions for traditional fisheries and markets

“The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply to billfish caught by U.S. fishing vessels and landed in the State of Hawaii or PIA.”

Does exempting billfish caught by U.S. fishing vessels and landed in Hawaii or PIA establish them as the referred to “traditional fisheries and markets”?

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UPDATE on LONGLINES in FLORIDA’s EAST COAST CLOSED ZONE

The NMFS has extended the deadline to March 29, 2017 for accepting public comments on the application for an Exempted Fishing Permit.  If approved, six pelagic longline vessels will fish for three years in Florida’s East Coast Closed Zone. Email your comments to nmfs.hms.pllefp@noaa.gov.  

A webinar on the subject is scheduled for March 27, 2017 between 1 – 4 pm (EST) to facilitate public comments from across the U.S. commercial Atlantic Pelagic Longline fishery.  Join the webinar here.

TBF’s submitted comments are posted here with a draft letter you may draw from to write your comments.  Help TBF fight this direct threat by submitting your letter and joining TBF.

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The Caribbean Billfish Project – good fisheries management?

 Sportfishing Might Be Charged to Help Alleviate Poverty in the Caribbean… should that fall within reasonable fisheries management?

The Caribbean Billfish Project,  a $1.95 million exercise supported by the UN and the World Bank, and executed by the Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC) in Barbados, proposes a ” rights-based” billfish management strategy for commercial, recreational and coastal fishers.

“Rights-based” strategies limit fishing access and allocations through a variety of tools, including licenses, marine reserves, fishery-wide quotas based on catches not landings, stakeholder group administration, cooperatives and payment of fees (rents), etc. One published paper from the Project  provides “enough value exists in the recreational fisheries sector to compensate losses in the commercial fisheries sector.” This transfer of financial resources would require recreational fishing boats to pay “rents” to compensate commercial fishers for loss of billfish caught by anglers, not just for landed fish.

Greater benefits could flow to local fishers and billfish if Caribbean nations stopped authorizing foreign fleets to fish in their waters and stopped re-flagging other fleets, as fees are collected in both situations.  If recreational fishing vessels pay “rents” and foreign commercial fleets pay fees, some nations would collect twice.  Distant water fleets threaten Caribbean food security and its sportfishing eco-tourism trade by overfishing billfish and other species.  Locals cannot compete.

A second Project study  “….recognizes that it is a challenge to apply “rights-based” approaches in the developing world……the answer is to secure rights to the fishery to end the race to fish and to put proper incentives in place to increase wealth and sustainability.” A goal consistent with FAO’s goals to (1) eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; (2) eliminate poverty and advance social and economic progress, and (3) manage and use natural resources sustainably.  All honorable goals, but they should remain beyond the scope of fishery management. If environmental organizations prevail, “rights-based” management will become mainstream.

“Rights-based” billfish strategies raise questions and uncertainties for Caribbean marinas/resorts, charter operations and tournaments. How could businesses factor in a fee for each billfish caught, not landed?  If a fishery-wide quota were met before a scheduled tournament or booked charters, how could businesses meet obligations?  If the U.S. embraced the “right-based” strategy for waters around Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, would Atlantic billfish management begin to unravel?

Highly migratory marlin cannot be managed as “straddling stocks,” as described in the Caribbean Project.   Atlantic billfish fall within the jurisdiction of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, a well-established international organization with billfish history for improving management and science, well beyond the Caribbean.

A priority should be to avoid another layer of international billfish management by not placing any responsibility with FAO’s WECAFC in the Caribbean.   The $1.9 million would have likely been more beneficial had it been directed toward specific problems faced by local fishers.

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CALL TO ACTION!

No Longlines in Closed Zone…destroying a conservation success makes no sense.

Recently, the NMFS received an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application from Dr. David Kerstetter, Nova Southeastern University, to authorize a research project using 6 longline boats within Florida’s East Coast Longline Closed Zone. The project proposes to evaluate the effectiveness of the 16 year closure by comparing fishing results in the closed waters to results in open waters. Fish caught during the research period would be sold to offset expenses.

The zone was closed in 2001 to protect juvenile swordfish primarily and other species taken as bycatch in longline gear, including billfish, sea turtles and overfished shark species.  Buoy gear, which takes no bycatch, replaced longlines in the then newly closed waters and proved to be compatible with recreational fishing and sustaining marine resources. The gear fishes sustainably, contrary to longline gear, as stated clearly in a CNN story featuring Dr. Kerstetter and the owner of the longline boats listed in the research proposal. (See a video here.)  A curious reversal it seems by Dr. Kerstetter and the longline vessel owner. Since the zone was closed, swordfish recovered and catches of sailfish, yellowfin tuna, marlin and other species increased, generating stronger economic returns to Florida’s east coast businesses and healthier marine resources. The closed zone is a conservation success, so why risk destroying it by allowing longline gear to return?

The U.S. commercial longline swordfish fishery continues to fail in landing their quota, which might be part of the motivation to return to the zone, hoping from its waters, the quota, could be filled. Many speculate the opposite; pointing out larger longline vessels are needed to increase landings by fishing in distant waters. In 2016, with all US gear types fishing for swordfish combined, only 36.7% of the quota was landed, but that landed by buoy gear provided a fresher product.

Gambling away the conservation and economic successes generated within the closed zone makes no sense. This EFP should not be approved.

The NMFS accepts public comments on whether to grant the permit through February 16, 2017 at nmfs.hms.pllefp@noaa.gov.  See our statement in the gallery below and download a template with draft comments by clicking on the links listed.

EFP_TBF_Comment

EFP_Angler Letter

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TBF’s Tagging Program Heralded

A recently released analysis of the NMFS Cooperative Tagging Program between January 2006 and December 2015 by Caitlyn Savoia, a graduate student at the University of Miami, documented that during those years the Program received the lowest number of tagged and recaptured reports, which collect valuable scientific data.”  The author lauded the work of TBF’s implementation of its self-entry on-line database for tagged, released and recaptured billfish as well as the outreach done to further engage the sportfishing community.

She applauds TBF’s Tag & Release system for including interactive features that improve efficiency, transparency while making the entry, retrieving and viewing of one’s data easy.  Other features of TBF’s self-entry tagging data site heralded by the researcher include: interactive map with a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) interface, the ability to upload anglers’ videos and photos, ability to analyze data, interface with Buoyweather and integrated with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all of this Savoia acknowledges promotes data collection and participation through innovation and technology. In turn, TBF applauds the work of all our constituents who continue to report and support the program as well as to TBF staff member, Peter Chaibongsai, who is responsible for the program for his tenacity in getting the site activated and to all anglers, captains and mates who use the self-entry site.

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TBF Welcomes 20Echo as a Tag & Release Program Sponsor!

TBF Welcomes 20echo as a Tag & Release Program Sponsor!

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) proudly announces that 20echo is its newest Tag and Release Program sponsor, joining  Casa Vieja Lodge, Costa Sunglasses, Garmin, King Sailfish MountsPelagic Gear, and Yeti in support of the scientific data collecting program. Begun in 1990, the Program has produced the world’s largest private billfish tagging data resource, which is the organization’s cornerstone science project that shares angler-generated data with scientists to improve billfish science.

An early example of what users will be able to see via 20echo.

TBF’s partnership with 20echo.com will bolster data collect for years to come by giving anglers a fast, on board means to capture weather, oceanic and fish data at the exact spot of a billfish tag, release or recapture, simply by taking a photo. “The data then will be shared with TBF,” said Daniel Miers, 20echo’s founder and developer of the revolutionary new tool, who added  “20echo.com was built with conservation in mind.” Gerard Ramos, CEO of Revelry Labs, the software developing firm, said, “It’s really that simple, take or upload your billfish photo, enter  the tag number if the fish was tagged, in 20echo.com and the angler immediately has the ability to positively impact TBF’s data collection for science and conservation. I’m extremely proud of our team and the technology we’ve created to assist TBF.”

Peter Chaibongsai, TBF’s Director of Science and Policy, said, “We are excited about 20echo’s partnership to assist in billfish data collection that will support conservation via their innovative and interactive tool. No doubt anglers and captains will enjoy using the 20echo services.”

TBF welcomes 20Echo and invites other companies to become a TBF Tag and Release Program sponsor and show your business’s support of billfish conservation! Learn more about TBF’s Tag and Release program by contacting us at 954-938-01050 or by email.

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2016 Tag & Release Competition Winners

The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) Tag and Release Award winners, the “who’s who” in the billfishing world will be honored during the International Tag and Release Awards Ceremony at Miami’s Jungle Island on February 17, 2017. Earning one of the prestigious awards, produced and donated by King Sailfish Mounts, symbolizes a year of hard work, great fishing and/or boat and fish handling skills plus a commitment to a future with billfishing. Leaders in the sportfishing industry sponsor the Tag and Release Program and Ceremony and include Costa Sunglasses, PELAGIC Gear, Casa Vieja Lodge, Garmin Inc., YETI Coolers, Marina Casa de Campo, International Game Fish Tournament Observers Inc., Makaira Adventures, Sailfish Brewing Company, and 20echo.

 

Youth Division

TOP TAGGING

Ages 8 & Under
Darren Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Runner-Up: Charles Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Ages 11-12
Hefner Appling – Port Aransas, TX USA
Runner-Up: Aidan Burke – Los Angeles, CA USA

Ages 13-15
Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Runner-Up: Jamyn Kirkland – Englewood, FL USA

Ages 16-17
Toby Mason – Dampier, WA Australia
Runner-Up: Nuno Abohbot Jr. – Luanda, Angola

 

TOP RELEASE

Ages 8 & Under
Darren Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Runner-Up: Brown Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Ages 9-10
Elise Standing – Virginia Beach, VA USA

Ages 11-12
Ian Perez – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Runner-Up: Cameron Johnson – Davie, FL USA

Ages 13-15
Caetlin O’Brien – Duxbury, MA USA
Runner-Up: Ethan Standing – Virginia Beach, VA

Ages 16-17
Toby Mason – Dampier, WA Australia
Runner-Up: Rory Brown – Mount Pleasant, SC USA

 

Gulf of Mexico Marlin Tagging Competition

Top Overall Tagging Angler – Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Top Overall Tagging Captain – Myles Colley – Pensacola, FL USA
Top Tagging Angler – Blue Marlin – Dana Foster – Pensacola, FL USA
Top Tagging Angler – White Marlin – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Top Tagging Captain – Blue Marlin – Myles Colley – Pensacola, FL USA
Top Tagging Captain – White Marlin – Chris Mowad – Pensacola, FL USA
Top Tagging Junior Angler – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Top Tagging Lady Angler – Lisa Foster – Pensacola, FL USA
Top Tagging Boat – Born2Run – Pensacola, FL USA

 

South Florida Sailfish Circuit

Top Release Angler – Jacob Lepera – Boynton Beach, FL USA
Top Release Captain, Private – Doug Covin – Miami, FL USA
Top Release Captain, Charter – Dean Panos – Pembroke Pines, FL USA
Top Release Junior Angler – Shawn MacMullin – Key Largo FL USA
Top Release Lady Angler – CeCe Imbrie – Naples, FL USA
Top Tagging Angler – Shawn MacMullin – Key Largo FL USA
Top Tagging Captain Private – Doug Covin – Miami, FL USA
Top Tagging Captain Charter – Bouncer Smith – Miami, FL USA
Top Tagging Junior Angler – Shawn MacMullin – Key Largo FL USA
Top Tagging Lady Angler – Dawn Samuels – Palm Beach Gardens, FL USA

 

Cape Verde Regional Tag & Release Competition 

Top Tagging Angler – Paul Gerlach – Hobe Sound, FL USA
Top Tagging Captain, Private – Bertrand Bouchard – Port Gentil, Gabon
Top Tagging Captain, Charter – Martin Bates – Auckland New Zealand
Top Release Angler – Arthur Choate – Miami, FL USA
Top Release Captain, Private – Randy Hodgekiss – Orange Beach, AL USA
Top Release Captain, Charter – Zak Conde – San Vicente, Cape Verde
Top Release Junior Angler – Cameron Johnson – Davie, FL USA
Top Release Lady Angler – Amanda Cofer – Carolina Beach, NC USA

 

Hawaii Regional Tag & Release Competition 

Top Tagging Angler – Jada Holt – Kailua-Kona, HI USA
Top Tagging Captain – Gene Vander Hoek – Kailua-Kona, HI USA
Top Tagging Lady Angler – Jada Holt – Kailua-Kona, HI USA
Top Release Angler – Paul Dolinoy – Huntington Beach, CA USA
Top Release Captain – Chris Choy – Kailua-Kona, HI USA

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Atlantic Ocean
Blue Marlin – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Sailfish – Marco Couto – Luanda, Angola
Swordfish – Richard Gudoian – Key Largo, FL USA
White Marlin – Laurent Sahyoun – Mandelieu, France

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Indian Ocean
Black Marlin – Scott MacGowan – Baynton, Australia
Blue Marlin – Scott MacGowan – Baynton, Australia
Sailfish – Henry Riggs-Miller – Victoria, Seychelles

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Pacific Ocean
Black Marlin – Stephan Kreupl – Oberursel, Germany
Blue Marlin – Christian Hampl – Doral, FL USA
Sailfish – Chris Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA
Spearfish – Julie Crispin – Sewall’s Point, FL USA
Striped Marlin – Kristen Richardson – Baton Rouge, LA USA

 

Top Tagging Captains – Atlantic Ocean
Blue Marlin – Martin Bates – Auckland, New Zealand
Sailfish – Fin Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA
Swordfish – Nick Stancyzk – Islamorada, FL USA
White Marlin – Christian Benazeth – Auch, France

 

Top Tagging Captains – Indian Ocean
Black Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia
Blue Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia
Sailfish – Terrence Farrell – Alyangula, NT Australia
Striped Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia

 

Regional Tag & Release Competition
Black Marlin – Tim Richardson – Bangalow, NSW Australia
Blue Marlin – Bobby McGuinness – Golfito, Costa Rica
Sailfish – Ben Horning – Jupiter, FL USA
Spearfish – Gene Vander Hoek – Kailua-Kona, HI USA
Striped Marlin – Wilks Hammock – Pensacola, FL USA

 

Top Release Anglers – Atlantic Ocean
Blue Marlin – Mike Brauser – Lighthouse Point, FL USA
Sailfish – T. David Lohr – Rockville, VA USA
Spearfish – Gray Ingram – Jupiter, FL USA
White Marlin – Laurent Sahyoun – Mandelieu, France

 

Top Release Anglers – Indian Ocean
Black Marlin – Riley Smith – Exmouth, WA Australia

 

Top Release Anglers – Pacific Ocean
Black Marlin – Barry Alty – Gold Coast, QLD Australia
Blue Marlin – Chris Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA
Sailfish – Jack Duvall – Kemah, TX USA
Striped Marlin – Jack Duvall – Kemah, TX USA

 

Top Release Captains – Atlantic Ocean
Blue Marlin – Zak Conde – San Vicente, Cape Verde
Sailfish – Fin Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA
Spearfish – Ronnie Fields – Lake Park, FL USA
White Marlin – Christian Benazeth – Auch, France

 

Top Release Captains – Indian Ocean
Black Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia
Blue Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia
Sailfish – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, WA Australia

 

Top Release Captains – Pacific Ocean
Black Marlin – Brett Alty – Gold Coast, QLD Australia
Blue Marlin – Ben Horning – Jupiter, FL USA
Sailfish – Brad Philipps, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Striped Marlin – Benito Agundez – San Ysidro, CA USA

 

Overall Tagging Winners
Top Overall Tagging Angler – Chris Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA
Top Overall Lady Tagging Angler – Laura Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA
Top Overall Youth Tagging Angler – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA
Top Overall Tagging Captain – Ben Horning – Jupiter, FL USA

 

Overall Release Winners
Top Overall Release Angler – Chris Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA
Top Overall Release Lady Angler – Lisa Everett – Nags Head, NC USA
Top Overall Release Youth Angler – Darren Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Top Overall Release Captain – Brad Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala

 

 

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TBF SUBMITS COMMENTS ON Amendment 5b – Dusky Sharks

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) recently submitted comments to the proposed regulations included in Amendment 5b to the Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan – regarding the reduction of dusky shark mortality. Learn why the current preferred measures for recreational fishing as written will have direct, and significant, negative impacts on non-shark recreational fisheries.

Read our comments below.

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TBF Submits Comments On the Pacific Bluefin Fishery

On December 12th, The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) submitted official comments on Pacific Bluefin Tuna (PBFT) being potentially listed in the Endangered Species Act. Learn why PBFT potential listing would be more symbolic in nature as a conservation measure and would be a detrimental to the recreational fishing community in the region. A better solution for PBFT would be for the U.S. to lead a campaign to list Pacific Bluefin tuna under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which focuses solely on protecting species at risk from commercial exploitation internationally by prohibiting international sales.

Read our official comments below.

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Many Ways to Support TBF!

Members and friends of The Billfish Foundation have a long tradition of generous giving to support the many vital programs furthering the mission of conserving billfish worldwide. Since its founding in 1986, TBF’s achievements have been significant. Our success would not have been possible without the support of countless individuals and organizations. Please take a few moments to review the many ways you can give financially to TBF.

  • Matching Programs – ask you employer. Many companies will match charitable contributions made by their employees and their spouses. With a small effort, you might be able to double your gift!
  • Memorial and Tribute Gifts – make a difference for billfish as you honor a special person or mark an important event. Or ask friends and family to make a gift in your honor instead of the birthday present you don’t need! TBF regularly receives gifts representing an expression of sympathy, or to celebrate a wedding, anniversary or birthday.
  • Gift Memberships – a great way to introduce a fellow angler or family member to the importance of our conservation programs and the benefits of TBF membership.
  • Monthly Giving – if you would like to support the operations of TBF with a monthly donation over and above your regular membership, we would be happy to establish a recurring monthly gift with your credit card. This can make giving to TBF both easy and affordable to your budget. A little bit each month can do so much to save billfish for future generations.
  • Stocks and Bonds – your gift of appreciated securities is the opportunity to make a substantial gift while taking a charitable tax deduction and avoiding the capital gains on the amount of the appreciation. TBF has a special account to receive these gifts; check with us for wiring instructions.
  • Trusts – there are many types of trusts that will allow you to set aside assets for TBF, either to receive the income from the assets now, or to receive the assets at a later time. TBF would be happy to work with you or your advisor to explain how a trust might meet your needs.
  • Bequests – after providing for family and others, remembering TBF in your will is a wonderful way to show your support. A bequest can be a specific amount, a gift of certain securities or other assets, a percentage of your estate or the remainder of your estate after other gifts are fulfilled. TBF can offer language or would be happy to work with you and your advisors to meet your particular wishes. Make a gift that costs you nothing today but helps ensure the future of billfishing.
  • Retirement Plan Gifts – naming TBF as a beneficiary of your 401(k) or other retirement account assets will allow the assets to come to TBF without incurring any estate taxes. If you include TBF as a beneficiary of retirement account assets, you only need to update your Designation of Beneficiary Form for your retirement account and there is no need to update your will. Check with your 401(k) or other retirement plan provider to be sure you have completed the proper forms.
  • Life Insurance – as with retirement plan assets, your interest in a life insurance policy may be passed on to TBF by completing a Designation of Beneficiary Form. TBF would receive the assets directly and there is no effect on other assets passing through your estate. By discussing you plans in advance with TBF, we can make sure your gift is applied to the programs of most interest to you, or to our general operations if you so desire.

For any questions about membership, memorials, tributes or other current gifts, please contact Deborah_Cummings@billfish.org or call Deborah at 800-438-8247, x106. To discuss any other planned gifts, contact Robert_Jones@billfish.org or call Robert at 800-438-8247, x113.

DONATE NOW!

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Back To the 80’s Live Auction Preview

Take a peek at some of the items we have in store for you to bid on for our live auction at our annual fundraiser, Back to the 80’s! Be sure to bid high, as all the proceeds go to billfish conservation!

For more information on the event and to purchase your tickets or table, click here.

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TBF Mobile Application Goes Live!

TBF launches free mobile application to easily report and search tag and release data.

 

Over the past 26 years, the sportfishing community has provided The Billfish Foundation (TBF) with over 220,000 tag and release records, making it the largest private billfish database worldwide. The data received helps marine researchers gain insight into migratory patterns, growth rates, habitat usage, and the overall health of billfish stocks around the world. A vast majority of those records used to be received on our traditional cards via post, but with TBF’s online system launch several years ago, there has been an incredible 45% increase in reported data from anglers, captains, and mates since 2014. With a large shift of people moving from desktop users into mobile devices, TBF wanted to make it easier and more convenient for the “mobile” angler (or the angler on-the-go) to continue to participate in the tag & release program.

Engagement is a large part of the success of TBF’s Tag & Release Program. TBF is excited to introduce a new way for anglers to easily report and search tag and release data – TBF’s mobile application. Currently only available for Apple products, search the App Store for “The Billfish Foundation” and download!

The new TBF mobile application will allow the user to more easily and quickly report their tagged fish, and released fish (with no tag), with their device automatically entering the latitude and longitude based on the angler’s location and allowing the user to select if they are  an  angler or captain. It will also allow the user to post a picture with the record, explore recent TBF tag & release data including recaptures, and create/modify their own profile. All of the data entered into the application is sent to TBF’s database and if edits are necessary, you can make them via the application or through our traditional desktop version.

Make sure to download today as it will only be free for the next several weeks, after which all proceeds will be donated back to support billfish conservation. TBF appreciates your support and we look forward to your feedback on this new billfish conservation tool.

 

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Updated 2016 Gulf of Mexico Marlin Tagging Competition Standings

Tournament season is coming to a close which means opportunities to get out there are getting fewer and the competition is stiff. Here are the current standings for the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Marlin Tagging competition.  All fishing must be completed by October 31, and all tag cards need to be either entered by you (tagbillfish.org) or in the TBF office by November 15, NO EXCEPTIONS! Mail, fax, email, hand delivered, however you prefer is fine with us, but they cannot be late.

Please note, there are still numerous cards to be entered that you may have sent in some time ago. Rest assured, all cards will be entered, but the surest way for your records to be up-to-date is to enter them yourself at www.tagbillfish.org.

As of 9/7/16

Overall Tagging Angler
1. Kaleb Richardson
2. Dana Foster
3. Lee Leboeuf

Overall Tagging Captain
1. Chris Mowad
2. Myles Colley
3. Jimmy Crochet
4. Ryan Reaux
5. Adam Ladnier, Ryan Easterling (tie)

Top Tagging Angler – Blue Marlin
1. Kaleb Richardson
2. Dana Foster

Top Tagging Angler – White Marlin
1. Kaleb Richardson
2. Lee Leboeuf

Top Tagging Boat
1. Whoo Dat
2. Born2Run
3. Conundrum
4. Reel Blues
5. Southern Miss

Top Tagging Captain – Blue Marlin
1. Myles Colley
2. Chris Mowad
3. Jimmy Crochet

Top Tagging Captain – White Marlin
1. Chris Mowad
2. Ryan Easterling, Ryan Reaux (tie)

Youth Division (Tag)
1. Kaleb Richardson

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