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TBF Tag & Release Ceremony Recap

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL- Anglers, captains and mates worldwide are the vital elements needed to provide The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) Tag and Release program the valuable data required to further billfish science and ensure that fishing opportunities are available for future generations. Without the dedication of these individuals from around the world, what is known about billfish science and the advances in conservation would not be possible today.

Since 1990, TBF has received more than 220,000 billfish tag and release records from anglers and captains around the world. Records are entered into TBF’s Tag & Release Online Database, which has gained in popularity with boat crews and anglers since its introduction in 2014. The records collected via the database will better help marine researchers gain insight into migratory patterns, growth rates, and the overall health of billfish stocks round the world.

On Feb. 11, over 30 award winners along with their family and friends came from across the globe to accept their 2015 International Tag & Release Awards at Miami’s Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom. The ceremony was sponsored by Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund and the awards were presented by King Sailfish Mounts. Sailfish Brewery once again supplied amazing local craft beers. During the cocktail hour guests had the opportunity to mingle and interact with a marmoset, a baby kangaroo, and some beautiful birds. All award winners received sunglasses from TBF Conservation Partner, Costa. Top Overall winners also received a custom Fathom lure and a one-year subscription to FishTrack in addition to their trophies. Guests also had the chance to participate in the raffle, which included products from Costa, Casa Vieja Lodge, Garmin, Pelagic, Yeti, Alutecnos, Buoyweather, Fathom Offshore, Fish Track, Goslings Rum, Troll Pro, and Release Ruler. Every guest received a goody bag filled with items and information from all of our sponsors.

TBF’s Overall Tagging Angler Winner for all species (any combination of blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, sailfish and/or spearfish) was Laurent Sahyoun (Mandelieu, France). Laura Jessen (Sarasota, FL USA) took the honors as the Top Overall Lady Tagging Angler. Kaleb Richardson (Lafayette, LA USA) won the Top Overall Youth Tagging Angler. Top Overall Tagging Captain was Chris Sheeder (Guatemala City, Guatemala).

In the release division, Top Overall Release Angler went to Pat McCotter (Vandemere, NC).  Taking the honors for the third year in a row, Top Overall Release Lady Angler was Tiffany Day (Kitty Hawk, NC, USA).  Brown Gaddy (Manteo, NC USA) won the Top Overall Release Youth Angler and Brad Philipps (Guatemala City, Guatemala) once again kept his title as the Top Overall Release Captain.

The 2016 competition began Nov. 1, 2015 and will run through Oct. 31, 2016.  TBF members from more than 70 countries are invited to participate. ‘Tag Data Reports’ and ‘Release Notifications’ can be submitted to TBF using either the traditional hard copies or reported online at www.tagbillfish.org. Separate categories currently exist for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the South Florida Sailfish and the Gulf of Mexico. This year TBF will be adding additional regional categories (Hawaii, Cape Verde, and Japan) to the competition.

To be eligible to receive an award, active TBF members must have tagged and/or released five or more of a species to qualify. In addition, TBF’s Youth Program was created in 2001 and recognizes the conservation ethics and achievements of young anglers. It includes a three fish minimum in five separate age groupings for both tag and release categories.

For more on TBF’s annual Tag & Release program or to see the full list of winners, please visit www.bilfish.org or call 954-938-0150 for Peter Chaibongsai (ext. 107), Michael Kelly (ext. 102) or Adrienne Katz (ext. 115).

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Costa, YETI and TBF Tagging Trip to Isla Mujeres

Being a part of the sportfishing community and having an opportunities to work alongside our Tag & Release Program sponsors as well as captains and anglers, to put our initiatives to practice is not only fun but vital to our mission for billfish conservation. This past January, YETI Coolers, Costa Sunglasses, and TBF staff joined TBF board member, Capt. Fin Gaddy in Isla Mujeres for a few days to build on and promote the future of billfish conservation.

Oliver Rogers Photography

If you are unfamiliar, Isla Mujeres, Mexico is one of the best places in the world to catch Atlantic sailfish as huge numbers of sailfish come to the waters off of the Yucatán Peninsula to feed on the massive aggregations of sardines. Captain Fin Gaddy of Qualifier Charters has been coming to this small Mexican Island for close to a decade and was kind enough to host staff members from Costa and TBF along with cameraman, Oliver Rogers (www.oliverrogersphotography.com) to capture Costa and YETI gear in action and of course, tagging dozens of sailfish! Baitballs, good weather, and big numbers of hungry sailfish all cooperated for an opportunity to get some amazing images. The number of fish seen also gave Amanda Sabin and Todd Barker from Costa plenty of practice at tagging after some coaching on proper tagging techniques from TBF staff and first mate, Colin Oxnard (one time TBF intern). After three full days of fishing Capt. Gaddy led the team to tag 38 sailfish and release another 35. Needless to say, there wasn’t a lack of action to get on film!

Tagged and ready for release. Oliver Rogers Photography.

The time spent looking back at the spread was also a great opportunity for everyone on board to discuss matters surrounding billfishing conservation and continue to build synergy to tackle these issues. The combination of working with industry leaders and the top captains gives us a good pulse on what is happening and just goes to show the shared passion and understanding of a shared responsibility to ensure the future of the resource and the sport.

The beautiful images will help to show how amazing billfish are, spread the conservation message across the globe and visualize the importance of tagging. Of course, the YETI and Costa gear on board certainly helped to get some great shots of everyone tagging in style! Keep an eye out for more images to come and we’re sure you will enjoy them!

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Nick Mayer – TBF’s 2016 Artist of the Year

We at TBF are proud to present Nick Mayer as our 2016 Artist of the Year. This year marks The Billfish Foundation’s 30th Anniversary, so we wanted a unique work of art to commemorate this milestone. Nick’s beautiful painting, Billfish Slam is featured on the cover of this issue of Billfish. Members joining or renewing for $250 or more will receive a personally signed and numbered edition of Billfish Slam. Each print presented to TBF Chairman’s Club members will also include a beautiful hand-painted remarque.

The son of an artist and a biologist, Nick Mayer has the best of both worlds. He utilized undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology from Brown University as tools to study and help in the conservation of fish. He has done so as an artist, a teacher, a research biologist, and a fly fisherman.

While investigating the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on sockeye salmon, restoring spawning habitats for steelhead in the Columbia River, studying the nesting habits of sea turtles in Costa Rica, or fishing small streams in the Green Mountains for brook trout, Nick has kept detailed sketchbooks to later use as references in his watercolors.
Close encounters that include falling overboard off a commercial fishing vessel into the Bering Sea followed by a near float plane crash in Northern Labrador inspired Nick to pursue his true calling as an artist. His paintings are not just portraits of fish, they are windows into real experience—his experience.

His works have been exhibited in many esteemed galleries on both the East and West coasts. Nick completed two large outdoor murals; an underwater scene located in the center of Vergennes, Vermont and a privately commissioned creative depiction of the evolution of life. Nick completed the illustration of his first book, Catalina Dive Buddies, a coffee table art book and field guide to the fish of Catalina Island, California.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Riverside, Rhode Island, Nick now lives in Lincoln, Vermont with his wife and two sons where he works as a full time professional artist. Nick’s work can be viewed online at nickmayerart.com and Nick can be contacted by phone at 802.349.2733 or email: nickmayerart@gmail.com.

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30th Anniversary Year Dedicated to Today’s Youth

30th Anniversary Year Dedicated to Today’s Youth

…Our Legacy must be a Billfishing Future for Them!

TBF’s Herbert Nanne, Central American Conservation Director, worked tirelessly for three years to have the government of Costa Rica sign off on a law that ALLOWS minors to fish! Can you believe what you just read? Yes, it is true. Why such a nonsensical law was ever on the books is hard to imagine, but no longer.

The timing was perfect for it coincides with TBF’s 30th Anniversary year, which is dedicated to young anglers with a commitment from today’s adults to insure a billfishing future is available to them. We hope in Costa Rica there will be a move to take children fishing, even if from shore or a pier. Fortunately there is not such a restraint in most parts of the world, we just have to make good on our commitment to the legacy!

To build our legacy to insure billfishing opportunities are available in our children’s future, we must support conservation, responsible management, responsible fishing and including children in safe and fun fishing experiences. Supporting TBF is a great way to help insure that future, but it takes each individual who billfish to make a meaningful contribution to building the legacy in their region with children.

During 2016, TBF is featuring a variety of creative, fun and educational sessions at tournaments, classrooms, clubs, within the digital world and at TBF events to engage and inspire youthful members within our constituency. Stay tuned and be sure to check out TBF’s youth publications, Sailfish & Spearfish. Request copies at education@billfish.org or download online at www.billfish.org!

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A Snapshot Of The Billfish Foundation’s First 30 Years And Strategies For The Next 30!

If you fished offshore 30 years ago you likely remember seeing at tournaments billfish, especially blue marlin, stacked in piles on the docks after anglers posed for photos with their prized dead fish. That was the norm. At the same time, U.S. commercial fishing vessels brought billfish to the docks and sold them. Today the images are very different with release flags flying in most tournaments and U.S. commercial vessels fishing for Atlantic tunas prohibited from selling billfish.

Thanks to you – anglers, boat owners, captains and mates along with Win Rockefeller and  scientist Dr. Eric Prince – who recognized that such unchecked killing could not sustain the sport, a movement began that resulted in establishing The Billfish Foundation (TBF). The mission of the new organization was to advance billfish research, conservation and education and raise funds to support those activities. This was a billfish angler movement for it was you who recognized that billfish abundance was declining and the government was setting no priority for the species or for the sport of billfishing.

Launching into its mission, TBF’s first science investment was for billfish stock assessments, which is a sophisticated computer modeling method to calculate abundance in the water based on reported landings. Because billfish are highly migratory in nature, the investment was international for no nation, even though many benefitted from billfishing, had contributed funds to billfish research for the fish were of
no priority to them. Anglers recognized even with their improved fishing skills, equipment and more anglers fishing, their catch rates were declining and they feared billfish stocks were declining as well, which threatened their current and future fishing opportunities.

During the first Atlantic marlin stock assessment workshop it became apparent that a great deal more data was needed since most nations had not reported billfish landings. Fisheries that commercially targeted species generate a huge amount of data because the thousands of tons of fish landed are recorded when off loaded at the dock and then when sold. Purchasers of the dead fish are required to also track numbers. A great deal of landings data is available and used in the stock assessment of the commercially targeted species. But the billfish caught as bycatch in many nations’ commercial fleets are randomly recorded leaving their numbers under reported from that, again robbing billfish stock assessments of valuable data.

Recognizing that a great deal more billfish data was needed, TBF’s science and educational emphasis turned to constituents asking them to tag and collect recapture data. As anticipated, you responded by purchasing and using tags, and reporting recapture tag data when a tagged fish was caught or recaptured by another vessel. The resulting influx of more data provided most of what was known about billfish for decades. While tag and recapture data gathering increased, much more is needed for it takes thousands of tagged fish in the water for one to be recaptured and data reported. In more recent years, TBF added satellite tagging to its research tools, which gathers different types of data than traditional tags, but both are very important to continue.

TBF also broadened its scope of research by commissioning socio-economic studies to capture the economic impact data from angler expenditures while pursuing billfish. Again boat owners, anglers, captains and mates participated in the studies. The studies documented that individuals fishing for billfish spend a lot of money for the experience even when they release the fish. The studies also documented that many jobs were associated with billfishing in the area of sales and service of boats, gear, electronic equipment, apparel, etc.

Even when stock assessments documented some billfish stocks were overfished and overfishing was occurring, governments still did not give billfish priority consideration for conservation and management. More was needed. The science and socio-economic data had to be used to educate decision makers about what billfish conservation was lacking.

TBF also commissioned other types of research, as it continues to do today, which expanded the scientific knowledge base about billfish in the areas of genetics, age and growth, habitat use, post release mortality, identification of oxygen depleted zones, etc.

Because science and economics had not convinced decision makers to make needed conservation and management decisions for billfish, TBF added “advocacy” to its strategies. Advocacy gives billfish and the billfishing community a voice for change in fishery management, a voice that focuses on the conservation of billfish, their forage species and their ecosystems.

Strategies for The Next 30 Years:

TBF will continue to focus and invest in billfish science, economics and advocacy, with more emphasis placed on student angler education.

(1) 5,000 More Tags for 3% –
Increase traditional tagging by at least 5,000 tags a year until the recapture data rate rises from 2% to 3%, while this may not sound like a big deal, it is a very important step toward improving the data-dependent stock assessment process. If funding were made available by international regional management organizations or the U.S. government, distributing tags to commercial longline vessels to tag billfish could also lead to increasing recapture data. Some U.S. commercial vessels have turned in recapture data. A partnership of this type, at least with U.S. vessels, could be very productive.

(2) Student Anglers for Billfish –
Engage students and teachers directly in the use of TBF’s tag and recapture data for educational projects. Inform students that many academic disciplines can be applied to fishery management and conservation, including math, which is the bases for stock assessments, economics, biology, statistics, ecology, law, public policy,
art and more.

(3) Billfish International Network –
Anglers, boat owners, captains, mates, tournament directors, charter operations, clubs, tourism businesses and the recreational fishing and boating communities associated with billfishing worldwide have a vested interest in one another and in TBF’s successes. This network has supported TBF over the past 30 years during which a voice raised billfish and billfishing issues to prominence in most all fishery management arenas. Billfish and associated issues are now included on meeting agendas of managers and scientists around the world. To rise about the level of “making the agenda” to “driving change” in agendas requires a stronger and larger network around the world. Help TBF achieve this goal by signing up your club, tournament, charter operations, club, your sportfishing business and/or joining as an individual member.

(4) Billfish Science –
Invest in a variety of research including improving stock assessment methodologies, satellite tagging, age and growth, and research to learn more about the life history characteristics of billfish, their habitat and forage species and continue socio-economic surveys.

(5) Fishery Management –
Initiate changes in the fishery management paradigm so fish are not viewed and valued solely as a consumable commodity. Eco-tourism values should be given equal consideration as consumptive value. The health of forage species and ecosystems should be included, as well as, evaluation of fishing techniques as to their compatibility with sustaining healthy stocks of fish and ecosystem, and incorporation of economic return to communities for they are all important and should be in the management process in the U.S. and international fishery management arenas. Traditional methods need strengthening, especially reducing the international pelagic longline tonnage of billfish landed each year to levels that would allow sustaining healthy levels of abundance.

(6) 30 Year Investment Plan –
Grow an endowment fund that generates interests enough to support at least half of TBF’s research, education and advocacy costs within 20 years. To help reach this goal, TBF is establishing a 30 year endowment growth strategy that allows you to invest a tax deductible gift to return billfishing assets for your children and their children’s generations.

(7) 10 Members More for 30 –
Growing membership and dollars are core to TBF’s ability to meet the challenges of the next thirty years. Will you commit to bringing on board 10 new TBF members each year for 30 years and encourage them to renew and, in turn, bring on 10 new members as well each following year? In addition, membership will be further encouraged through new programs, including, but not limited to: My First Billfish & Grander and Growing Granders Release Clubs.

It goes without saying that success also requires expert financial and organizational management, which are taken very seriously at TBF. We know every cent that you give to TBF could be given to other non-profits and your gift is the result of hard work and sacrifice. It is our philosophy to direct the overwhelming majority of each dollar to programs for the fish and the oceans in ways to guarantee continued and future billfishing opportunities for you.

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TBF welcomes Marina Casa de Campo as a new Tag & Release Industry sponsor!

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is extremely excited to announce and welcome aboard the Marina Casa de Campo as a new Tag & Release Industry sponsor. Located in the beautiful Dominican Republic, and conveniently close to La Romana International airport, the marina has every service needed for incoming ships and visitors offering a lifestyle of elegance, prestige, luxury, safety and warmth.

This location has a premier offshore bite, especially for blue marlin, where it is possible to encounter up to double digits in one day. The 2014 Fishing Season was a blast – closing with an average of 8 billfish released per day.  With the numbers of marlin seen, the marina clearly understands the importance of giving back to conservation efforts since a healthy sportfishery of billfish and other highly prized gamefish means more boats and clients!

TBF looks forward to working with Marina Casa de Campo in 2016 and for many years to come! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of The Billfish Foundation, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

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TBF welcomes IGFTO as a new Tag & Release Community sponsor!

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is extremely excited to announce and welcome aboard the International Game Fish Tournament Observers (IGFTO) as a new Tag & Release Community sponsor. IGFTO’s team of highly trained observers authenticates the “Catch & Release” of billfish & game fish during big game fishing tournaments.  IGFTO supports tournaments that advocate the release and conservation of the billfish species and those programs who study and protect game fish, making this collaboration with TBF a natural choice. We look forward to working with you in 2016 and for many years to come!

TBF is looking forward to having IGFTO on board and excited for the future with all these great companies on board to support TBF’s Tag and Release Program! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TBF, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

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2015 Tag & Release Winners

This year was truly a great year for the billfishing community and for TBF’s Tag & Release Program with more reports of tagged and released fish than in several years. Below are some of the top conservation-minded anglers, captains, and crews from around the world at the apex of this amazing sport. Congratulations to all the winners and we hope to see everyone at our awards ceremony, presented by Bisbee’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund, on Thursday, February 11, 2016 in the Treetop Ballroom at Jungle Island during the 2016 Miami International Boat Show. The evening will kick off at 6:00 PM with cocktails followed by the award presentation and dinner. Proceeds benefit TBF’s tag and release program. Get your tickets for the 2015 Tag & Release Award Ceremony here.

Every year, The Billfish Foundation (TBF) recognizes the captains, mates and anglers (including youth and ladies) who tag and release the most billfish in each of the world’s oceans. The competition is categorized by billfish species, ocean, and whether the fish were tagged or released untagged. Award winners are recognized at TBF’s Annual Tag & Release Awards Ceremony and held during the Miami International Boat Show presented by the TBF’s 2015 Tag and Release Sponsors: Bisbee’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund (our ceremony sponsor), Casa Vieja LodgeCosta SunglassesPELAGIC, King Sailfish Mounts, Yeti Coolers, and Garmin.

Please note that for all anglers, captains and mates to receive their awards they must be current TBF members. You can join or renew your memberships online.

Overall Release Awards

Top Overall Release Angler – Pat McCotter – Vandemere, NC USA

Top Overall Release Lady Angler – Tiffany Day – Kitty Hawk, NC USA

Top Overall Release Youth Angler – Brown Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Top Overall Release Captain – Brad Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala

 

Top Release Anglers – Atlantic Ocean 

Blue Marlin – Gray Ingram – Jupiter, FL USA

Sailfish – Brown Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

White Marlin – Laurent Sahyoun – Mandelieu, France

 

Top Release Anglers – Indian Ocean

Black Marlin – Toby Mason – Dampier, Australia

Sailfish – Riley Smith – Exmouth, Australia

 

Top Release Anglers – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – Sharon Poulter – Smithfield, Australia

Blue Marlin – Pat McCotter – Vandemere, NC USA

Sailfish – Gray Ingram – Jupiter, FL USA

Striped Marlin – Jack Duvall – Kemah, TX USA

Swordfish – John Gregory – Kerikeri, New Zealand

 

Top Release Captains – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Ronnie Fields – Lake Park, FL USA

Sailfish – Dean Panos – Pembroke Pines, FL USA

White Marlin – Christian Benazeth – Auch, France

 

Top Release Captains – Indian

Black Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, Australia

Sailfish – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, Australia

 

Top Release Captains – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – Paul Poulter – Smithfield, Australia

Blue Marlin – Pete Rae – Atlantic Beach, NC USA

Sailfish – Brad Philipps – Guatemala City, Guatemala

Striped Marlin – Eddy Cesena – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Swordfish – John Gregory – Keri Keri, New Zealand

 

Overall Tagging Winners 

Top Overall Tagging Angler – Laurent Sahyoun – Mandelieu, France

Top Overall Lady Tagging Angler – Laura Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA

Top Overall Youth Tagging Angler – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA

Top Overall Tagging Captain – Chris Sheeder – Palmetto Bay, FL USA

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Gray Ingram – Jupiter, FL USA

Sailfish – Charles Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Swordfish  – Richard Gudoian – Key Largo, FL USA

White Marlin – Laurent Sahyoun – Mandelieu, France

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Indian Ocean

Black Marlin * – Scott MacGowan – Baynton, Australia

Black Marlin * – Jo-Ann Riley – Baynton, Australia

Blue Marlin * – Marcus Longhurst – Broome, Australia

Blue Marlin * – Jo-Ann Riley – Baynton, Australia

Sailfish – Henry Riggs-Miller – Victoria, Seychelles

*  Denotes a tie.

 

Top Tagging Anglers – Pacific Ocean

Blue Marlin – Jada Holt – Kailua-Kona, HI USA

Sailfish – Chris Jessen – Sarasota, FL USA

Striped Marlin – Jack Duvall – Kemah, TX USA

 

Top Tagging Captains – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Ronnie Fields – Lake Park, FL USA

Sailfish – Fin Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Swordfish – Sean O’Connor – Key Largo, FL USA

White Marlin – Christian Benazeth – Auch, France

 

Top Tagging Captains – Indian Ocean

Black Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, Australia

Blue Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, Australia

Sailfish – Jourdain Ellens – Broome, Australia

Striped Marlin – Eddy Lawler – Exmouth, Australia

 

Top Tagging Captains – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – Tim Richardson – Bangalow, Australia

Blue Marlin – Pete Wishney – San Clemente, CA USA

Sailfish – Chris Sheeder – Palmetto Bay, FL, USA

Spearfish – Gene Vander Hoek – Kailua-Kona, HI USA

Striped Marlin – Jaime Gonzales – Cabo San Lucas, MX

 

Gulf of Mexico Marlin Tagging Competition

Top Overall Tagging Angler – Kaleb Richardson – Louisiana

Top Tagging Angler – Blue Marlin – Kaleb Richardson – Louisiana

Top Tagging Angler – White Marlin – Charles Cooke – Florida

Top Youth AnglerAge 13-15 – Kaleb Richardson – Louisiana

Top Lady Angler – Lisa Foster – Florida

Top Tagging Captain – White Marlin – Adam Ladnier – Mississippi

Top Tagging Captain – Blue Marlin – Capt. Max Morris – Louisiana

Top Tagging CaptainCapt. Myles Colley – Florida

Top Tagging BoatBorn2Run – Florida

Top Tagging Charter Captain – Blue Marlin – Capt. Woody Woods – Louisiana

Top Tagging Charter Captain – Capt. Woody Woods – Louisiana

Top Tagging Charter Boat – Clairabelle – Louisiana

 

South Florida Sailfish Circuit

Top Tagging Angler – Shawn MacMullin

Top Tagging Youth Angler  Ages 13-15 – Shawn MacMullin

Top Tagging Lady Angler – Dawn Samuels

Top Tagging Captain – Michael MacMullin

Top Tagging Pro Captain – Bouncer Smith

Top Release Angler –  Shawn MacMullin

Top Release Pro Angler – Eric Hull

Top Release Youth Angler AGES 13-15 – Shawn MacMullin

Top Release Pro Lady Angler – Cece Imbrie

Top Release Captain – Michael MacMullin

Top Release Pro Captain – Dean Panos

 

 

Youth Winners

Top Tagging

Ages 8 & Under – Charles Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Runner-Up –  Sebastian Ortiz-Stoessel – Miami, FL USA

Ages 11-12  – Aidan Burke – Los Angeles, CA USA

Runner-Up – Hefner Appling – Port Aransas, TX USA

Ages 13-15 – Kaleb Richardson – Lafayette, LA USA

 Runner-Up – Shawn MacMullin – Key Largo, FL USA

Ages 16-17 – Nick Brackmann – Huntington Beach, CA USA

 

Top Release

Ages 8 & Under – Brown Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Runner-Up – Charles Gaddy – Manteo, NC USA

Ages 9-10 – Diego Adkins – El Paso, TX USA

Runner-Up – Moira Brummell – Granger, IN USA

Ages 11-12 – Cameron Johnson – Davie, FL USA

Ages 13-15 – Jonathan Gaskill – Vandemere, NC USA

Runner-Up – Riley Smith – Exmouth, Australia

Ages 16-17 – Samuel Yohanan – Lighthouse Point, FL USA

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Participation On The Rise

When the US was in the midst of a recession (2007 – 2009), TBF saw a significant reduction in tag and release reports, and it comes as no surprise; the price of fuel was at an all-time high during 2008 as well as many people redirecting their expenditures towards other hobbies. In the years following the start of the recession, TBF saw large fluctuations in the amount of data coming in, but overall, the numbers remained fairly low. Participation from the captains, anglers, and mates who have long supported our mission via the Tag & Release Program began to make a comeback in 2012, and really began to boom in 2014. We are so excited to see cards pouring in from around the world, and also to see so many fishing crews are utilizing the self-entry Tag & Release Online database (www.tagbillfish.org). If you haven’t already done so, please create a profile and test it out for yourself, but don’t get too comfortable because we are in the process of making the data entry even more streamlined. While you’re there generating your personal logbook, you can explore areas where fish have been caught around the world or look up marine weather wherever you plan to take your next trip.

Take a look, the numbers speak for themselves, participation is on the rise. Thanks to all of your efforts, we’re able to translate the valuable data we receive and utilize it to push for sound billfish conservation policy and advocate for angler rights and access. We know you’re going out fishing anyway, and you’re certainly not required to take the time out when things get crazy in the cockpit to tag a fish or write down the information necessary to report your releases. But the fact so many of you do take the time only goes to reinforce what we already know: our collective success can be attributed to this widely dispersed group of anglers, captains and crews, and the fervor and commitment with which specifically the billfish sportfishing community display to ensure a future for the species. We applaud you, and thank you for your continued support of TBF, because of which the 2014 Conservation Report will show numbers higher than the years before, and we hope this is a trend we will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

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Participation on the Rise

When the US was in the midst of a recession (2007 – 2009), TBF saw a significant reduction in tag and release reports, and it comes as no surprise; the price of fuel was at an all-time high during 2008 as well as many people redirecting their expenditures towards other hobbies. In the years following the start of the recession, TBF saw large fluctuations in the amount of data coming in, but overall, the numbers remained fairly low. Participation from the captains, anglers, and mates who have long supported our mission via the Tag & Release Program began to make a comeback in 2012, and really began to boom in 2014. We are so excited to see cards pouring in from around the world, and also to see so many fishing crews are utilizing the self-entry Tag & Release Online database (www.tagbillfish.org). If you haven’t already done so, please create a profile and test it out for yourself, but don’t get too comfortable because we are in the process of making the data entry even more streamlined. While you’re there generating your personal logbook, you can explore areas where fish have been caught around the world or look up marine weather wherever you plan to take your next trip.

Take a look, the numbers speak for themselves, participation is on the rise. Thanks to all of your efforts, we’re able to translate the valuable data we receive and utilize it to push for sound billfish conservation policy and advocate for angler rights and access. We know you’re going out fishing anyway, and you’re certainly not required to take the time out when things get crazy in the cockpit to tag a fish or write down the information necessary to report your releases. But the fact so many of you do take the time only goes to reinforce what we already know: our collective success can be attributed to this widely dispersed group of anglers, captains and crews, and the fervor and commitment with which specifically the billfish sportfishing community display to ensure a future for the species. We applaud you, and thank you for your continued support of TBF, because of which the 2014 Conservation Report will show numbers higher than the years before, and we hope this is a trend we will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

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Economic Impacts of For-Hire HMS Sector

In recent years, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has taken great steps to recognize the importance of recreational fishing across the nation and their research continues to reveal the substantial benefits that come from healthy recreational fisheries. Surveys conducted by NMFS in 2011 of private HMS angling permit holders revealed that anglers targeting HMS in particular make significant economic contributions because of the high costs of tackle, fuel, and boats required for offshore fishing. It was estimated that private HMS angling permit holders had an economic impact of USD $266 million. However, these estimates were only for private vessels in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic (Maine to North Carolina) region and previous studies on the for-hire sector have never looked specifically at for-hire HMS vessels. In 2013, NMFS followed up this study with further research to estimate the significant impacts of the for-hire sector for the entire East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy of Richard Gibson

From July to November of 2013 NMFS randomly selected Atlantic HMS Charter/Headboat (CHB) owners from Maine to Texas to collect important data on expenses and earnings for HMS trips. The results showed that the average charter boat fares (6 anglers or fewer) were $2,450, $2,111, and $1,223 for the Northeast (ME-VA), Gulf of Mexico (FL-TX) and Southeast (NC-FL) regions respectively. In the Northeast close to 5,000 for-hire HMS trips were made and are estimated to have generated more than $12 million in direct expenditure, employed 460 people, and a total economic output of nearly $32 million. In the Southeast, roughly 3,000 HMS for-hire trips were taken that generated $3.67 million in direct expenditure, create 243 jobs and a total impact of $10.5 million. Within the Gulf of Mexico, 1,505 HMS for-hire trips were made that generated $3.17 million in direct expenditure, created 428 jobs and $8.8 million in total economic impacts.

In addition to asking about trip expenses on ice, bait, and fuel, the survey also asked CHB permit holders about fishing patterns, including species targeted, vessel characteristics, gear used, type of bait, and hook type used. Responses showed that 68% of for-hire trips target multiple species while 32% targeted only coast sharks. The survey also revealed important differences between charter boats and headboats (vessels chartered by 7 anglers or more). The most common species targeted by charter boats were yellowfin tuna, sailfish, marlin, and coastal sharks compared to headboats that more often targeted bigeye tuna, swordfish and coastal sharks in addition to yellowfin tuna.

In total, $19 million in direct expenditure of HMS for-hire trips generated approximately $51 million in economic output for coasts from Maine to Texas. These findings will greatly help represent the importance of HMS recreational fishing when evaluating future management actions and it should be noted that it was only possible by the participation of captains and anglers. This upcoming summer, NMFS will continue to gauge the impacts of recreational HMS fishing through surveying HMS tournament directors and participants. TBF strongly urges any boat owners, captains and tournament directors to take part and stress how vital studies like these are to ensuring the future of recreational HMS fishing. For further information or questions, please contact TBF Science & Policy Specialist, Michael Kelly at Michael_Kelly@billfish.org.

The post Economic Impacts of For-Hire HMS Sector appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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TBF Holiday Gift Guide!

‘Tis the season to think about special gifts for that special angler in your life. We hope you will take a look and enjoy some of the great gift ideas offered by TBF and affiliates. Bring a smile to the face of your loved ones face while supporting billfish conservation!


 

Most of these items are available for purchase at TBF’s online store and don’t forget to see all the other great items for sale there as well! For all other items not available TBF online store, click from the links below to purchase.

 

 

2016 Limited Edition TBF Fathom Offshore Lures Red Angel Wings – Click to purchase here

 

 

Dimensional, framed bathymetric charts carved in Baltic Birch Wood by The Giving Tree GALLERY – Click to purchase here

 

 

Tag & Recapture Trophies – Produced by King Sailfish Mounts – Click to purchase here

 

The post TBF Holiday Gift Guide! appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Garmin Joins as Newest Tag & Release Program Sponsor

For more than 25 years, Garmin has pioneered new GPS navigation and wireless devices and applications that are designed for people who live an active lifestyle. Garmin serves five primary business units, including automotive, aviation, fitness, marine, and outdoor recreation. Garmin’s marine product portfolio includes some of the industry’s most sophisticated chartplotters and touchscreen multifunction displays, sonar technology, high-definition radar, autopilots, high-resolution mapping, sailing instrumentation and other products and services that are known for innovation, reliability and ease-of-use.

“Garmin is excited to partner with The Billfish Foundation as a Tag and Release sponsor. The Foundation’s conservation and advocacy efforts around the globe are invaluable, and its success is thanks in part to the dedicated anglers and captains that voluntarily tag, release, and report their billfish catches. The data collected from the Tag and Release program is vital to further understand the billfish species, and Garmin is proud to help support the efforts of the Foundation and participating anglers,” says David Dunn,Garmin Sr. Manager of Marine Sales.

TBF is looking forward to having Garmin on board and excited for the future with all these great companies on board to support TBF’s Tag and Release Program! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TBF, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

The post Garmin Joins as Newest Tag & Release Program Sponsor appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Garmin Joins as Newest Tag & Release Program Sponsor

For more than 25 years, Garmin has pioneered new GPS navigation and wireless devices and applications that are designed for people who live an active lifestyle. Garmin serves five primary business units, including automotive, aviation, fitness, marine, and outdoor recreation. Garmin’s marine product portfolio includes some of the industry’s most sophisticated chartplotters and touchscreen multifunction displays, sonar technology, high-definition radar, autopilots, high-resolution mapping, sailing instrumentation and other products and services that are known for innovation, reliability and ease-of-use.

“Garmin is excited to partner with The Billfish Foundation as a Tag and Release sponsor. The Foundation’s conservation and advocacy efforts around the globe are invaluable, and its success is thanks in part to the dedicated anglers and captains that voluntarily tag, release, and report their billfish catches. The data collected from the Tag and Release program is vital to further understand the billfish species, and Garmin is proud to help support the efforts of the Foundation and participating anglers,” says David Dunn,Garmin Sr. Manager of Marine Sales.

TBF is looking forward to having Garmin on board and excited for the future with all these great companies on board to support TBF’s Tag and Release Program! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TBF, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

The post Garmin Joins as Newest Tag & Release Program Sponsor appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Hemingway’s Havana Night Live Auction Items

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, Hemingway’s Havana Night! 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.

The post Hemingway’s Havana Night Live Auction Items appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Hemingway’s Havana Night Live Auction Items

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, Hemingway’s Havana Night! 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.

The post Hemingway’s Havana Night Live Auction Items appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Private Boats Can Travel Direct to Cuba – BUT Some Restrictions Apply

The Obama administration recently issued new rules that allow U.S. visitors going to Cuba to travel in their own boat, whether for hire or recreation, direct to Cuba.  Some requirements remain that you must satisfy before you set off, though the situation is changing all the time.  We will try to keep you up to date.  The National Marine Manufacturers Association in the U.S. has taken the lead in exploring options for the industry and boaters.

Two visa requirements should be considered for your boat trip to Cuba:

Traveler:

You still are not legally allowed to travel to Cuba as a tourist, so you must self-certify to obtain your travel authorization by selecting one of the 12 categories listed by the Treasury Department, U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control:

  1. Family visits
  2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research and professional meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

For more information on traveling to Cuba please visit TBF’s website, billfish.org https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/country-guidance/sanctioned-destinations/cuba

https://licensing.ofac.treas.gov/Apply/Introduction.aspx

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9ae4a21068f2bd41d4a5aee843b63ef1&rgn=div5&view=text&node=15:2.1.3.4.25&idno=15#15:2.1.3.4.25.0.1.15

Vessel:

A license for your vessel from the Department of Commerce is still required though on a case by case basis, which surely will be standardized soon.

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/forms-documents/doc_view/201-temporary-sojourn-license-applications-for-aircraft-and-vessels-to-cuba

You may find it very helpful to work with a leading travel agency that is working with the Marine Manufacturers Association to establish clarity with the vessel licensing.

Cuba Travel Services

Ms. Emily Sanchez

Emily@CubaTravelServices.com

1-562-366-1631

Fishing:

Remember a fishing license is a totally different issue that has to be obtained in Cuba.

TBF’s sportfishing contact in Cuba is Commodore Jose Escrich at the Hemingway Yacht Club, which hosts a billfish tournament each June.  With the dynamic changes taking place with the U.S. and Cuba allowing private U.S. vessels to travel direct to Cuba it is our understanding the Commodore has been swamped with requests, so patience will be required.  Hopefully, soon a standardized process will be established for U.S. anglers and made readily available.  Commodore Escrich, www.hemingwayyachtclub.org .

The post Private Boats Can Travel Direct to Cuba – BUT Some Restrictions Apply appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Private Boats Can Travel Direct to Cuba – BUT Some Restrictions Apply

The Obama administration recently issued new rules that allow U.S. visitors going to Cuba to travel in their own boat, whether for hire or recreation, direct to Cuba.  Some requirements remain that you must satisfy before you set off, though the situation is changing all the time.  We will try to keep you up to date.  The National Marine Manufacturers Association in the U.S. has taken the lead in exploring options for the industry and boaters.

Two visa requirements should be considered for your boat trip to Cuba:

Traveler:

You still are not legally allowed to travel to Cuba as a tourist, so you must self-certify to obtain your travel authorization by selecting one of the 12 categories listed by the Treasury Department, U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control:

  1. Family visits
  2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research and professional meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

For more information on traveling to Cuba please visit TBF’s website, billfish.org https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/policy-guidance/country-guidance/sanctioned-destinations/cuba

https://licensing.ofac.treas.gov/Apply/Introduction.aspx

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9ae4a21068f2bd41d4a5aee843b63ef1&rgn=div5&view=text&node=15:2.1.3.4.25&idno=15#15:2.1.3.4.25.0.1.15

Vessel:

A license for your vessel from the Department of Commerce is still required though on a case by case basis, which surely will be standardized soon.

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/forms-documents/doc_view/201-temporary-sojourn-license-applications-for-aircraft-and-vessels-to-cuba

You may find it very helpful to work with a leading travel agency that is working with the Marine Manufacturers Association to establish clarity with the vessel licensing.

Cuba Travel Services

Ms. Emily Sanchez

Emily@CubaTravelServices.com

1-562-366-1631

Fishing:

Remember a fishing license is a totally different issue that has to be obtained in Cuba.

TBF’s sportfishing contact in Cuba is Commodore Jose Escrich at the Hemingway Yacht Club, which hosts a billfish tournament each June.  With the dynamic changes taking place with the U.S. and Cuba allowing private U.S. vessels to travel direct to Cuba it is our understanding the Commodore has been swamped with requests, so patience will be required.  Hopefully, soon a standardized process will be established for U.S. anglers and made readily available.  Commodore Escrich, www.hemingwayyachtclub.org .

The post Private Boats Can Travel Direct to Cuba – BUT Some Restrictions Apply appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Credible Scientists Take On Sensationalists

It comes as good news to learn of CFOOD, a group of well respected scientists that came together “out of frustration with erroneous stories about fisheries sustainability” to “set the record straight.” Even though many sensational claims about the status of fish have been discredited, they continue to appear in the press as factual. CFOOD’s mission is to identify such reports or claims and provide a quick science-based response. How refreshing it is to know this group of scientists are organized to assess and respond at a time when extreme environmental organizations bombard the public and decision makers with reports that all is doomed and calling, in the case of marine fish, for waters to be closed to all fishing. CFOOD first took on the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) recently released Living Blue Planet Report that asserts the populations of tunas, mackerels and bonitos declined by 74% between 1970 through 2010. After reviewing published scientific stock assessment results from the international tuna regional fisheries management organizations and other science-based entities, the WWF claim was refuted.

CFOOD reported that “the adult biomass of 26 populations of tunas, mackerels and Spanish mackerels had declined by 52% between 1954 and 2006.” The expert then pointed out WWF used its own database, the Living Planet Index (LPI), which allows anyone to submit data through a portal. A stark contrast was that the LPI did not include data from a single stock assessment conducted by any tuna regional fisheries management organizations. CFOOD also reported problems with how WWF used other data resources.

On its website, CFOOD has “Myths” posted, including a claim made in a 2006 that “All Fish Stocks Will Collapse by 2048”, which got coverage on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post newspapers. Scientific evidence debunking the 2006 myth is also posted, which found that “on average fish stocks where abundance was available were not decline, but increases and declines were roughly equal.” We at TBF welcome the presence and actions of CFOOD to help counter sensational claims threatening to cause decision makers or members of the public to overreact.

The post Credible Scientists Take On Sensationalists appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Credible Scientists Take On Sensationalists

It comes as good news to learn of CFOOD, a group of well respected scientists that came together “out of frustration with erroneous stories about fisheries sustainability” to “set the record straight.” Even though many sensational claims about the status of fish have been discredited, they continue to appear in the press as factual. CFOOD’s mission is to identify such reports or claims and provide a quick science-based response. How refreshing it is to know this group of scientists are organized to assess and respond at a time when extreme environmental organizations bombard the public and decision makers with reports that all is doomed and calling, in the case of marine fish, for waters to be closed to all fishing. CFOOD first took on the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) recently released Living Blue Planet Report that asserts the populations of tunas, mackerels and bonitos declined by 74% between 1970 through 2010. After reviewing published scientific stock assessment results from the international tuna regional fisheries management organizations and other science-based entities, the WWF claim was refuted.

CFOOD reported that “the adult biomass of 26 populations of tunas, mackerels and Spanish mackerels had declined by 52% between 1954 and 2006.” The expert then pointed out WWF used its own database, the Living Planet Index (LPI), which allows anyone to submit data through a portal. A stark contrast was that the LPI did not include data from a single stock assessment conducted by any tuna regional fisheries management organizations. CFOOD also reported problems with how WWF used other data resources.

On its website, CFOOD has “Myths” posted, including a claim made in a 2006 that “All Fish Stocks Will Collapse by 2048”, which got coverage on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post newspapers. Scientific evidence debunking the 2006 myth is also posted, which found that “on average fish stocks where abundance was available were not decline, but increases and declines were roughly equal.” We at TBF welcome the presence and actions of CFOOD to help counter sensational claims threatening to cause decision makers or members of the public to overreact.

The post Credible Scientists Take On Sensationalists appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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YETI Cooler Joins as Newest Tag & Release Sponsor

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is extremely excited to announce and welcome aboard YETI Coolers as a new Tag & Release Program sponsor. A leader in the outdoor recreational industry, YETI joins other top businesses in the sportfishing community as a Tag & Release sponsor including Costa Sunglasses, Pelagic Gear, King Sailfish Mounts, Casa Vieja Lodge, and Bisbee’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund. The passion and appreciation for the outdoors is something YETI founders, Roy and Ryan Seiders have incorporated into their company. YETI clearly understands the importance of giving back to conservation efforts and TBF is one of many conservation groups they support.

YETI Coolers revolutionized the way that outdoor enthusiast look at coolers. No expenses are spared in the design and construction of their high quality, roto-molded coolers.  The numerous features found on their coolers and durability makes YETI coolers extremely versatile with an almost endless number of uses.  The results of this are a bulletproof cooler that not only keeps ice for days, but now is considered an essential piece of equipment most anglers won’t leave the dock without.

TBF is looking forward to having YETI on board and excited for the future with all these great companies on board to support TBF’s Tag and Release Program! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TBF, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

The post YETI Cooler Joins as Newest Tag & Release Sponsor appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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YETI Cooler Joins as Newest Tag & Release Sponsor

The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is extremely excited to announce and welcome aboard YETI Coolers as a new Tag & Release Program sponsor. A leader in the outdoor recreational industry, YETI joins other top businesses in the sportfishing community as a Tag & Release sponsor including Costa Sunglasses, Pelagic Gear, King Sailfish Mounts, Casa Vieja Lodge, and Bisbee’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund. The passion and appreciation for the outdoors is something YETI founders, Roy and Ryan Seiders have incorporated into their company. YETI clearly understands the importance of giving back to conservation efforts and TBF is one of many conservation groups they support.

YETI Coolers revolutionized the way that outdoor enthusiast look at coolers. No expenses are spared in the design and construction of their high quality, roto-molded coolers.  The numerous features found on their coolers and durability makes YETI coolers extremely versatile with an almost endless number of uses.  The results of this are a bulletproof cooler that not only keeps ice for days, but now is considered an essential piece of equipment most anglers won’t leave the dock without.

TBF is looking forward to having YETI on board and excited for the future with all these great companies on board to support TBF’s Tag and Release Program! To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TBF, please contact us via email or by phone (954) 938 0150.

The post YETI Cooler Joins as Newest Tag & Release Sponsor appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Panama’s Sportfishing Eco-Tourism Trade Could Be Hurt

Regrettably, the recent La Presna article dated August 16, 2015 that quotes Ivan Flores, Manager of the Aquatic Resources and Fisheries Authority (ARAP), did not focus on the sustainable use of and positive economic returns to Panama generated from its sportfishing eco-tourism trade, which is predominantly a catch and release fishery for highly migratory fish (marlin, sailfish, tunas).  Instead, the article attempted to justify restraints on the nation’s lucrative sportfishing eco-tourism trade, based on the stated need “to minimize harm it [sportfishing] causes to the marine biology,” without defining or elaborating on what that means – fish, water quality, habitat, flora, etc.

There are several issues not accurately or fairly stated. For one, the release mortality estimates in the cited studies cannot be extrapolated to the recreational fishery as a whole but instead reflect conditions unique to specific situations. When combined with other studies, these results documented the benefits from the use of circle hooks with less than a 5 degree offset. These hooks are widely used in catch and release recreational billfish fisheries to maximize survival, and are now required by anglers fishing in Costa Rica and in the U.S. when using natural baits in tournaments.   It is perhaps noteworthy that the authors of the article did not inform the readers that one study (Jensen et al. 2010) found that temporary closures of Mexico’s EEZ to long-lining from 1977–1980 and 1984–1985 had a rapid effect on local abundance of striped marlin.  The article did not include closing some waters to pelagic longline gear as an option to improve the state of fisheries in Panama.

Panama would lose significant jobs and tax revenues through ill-advised restrictions on sportfishing. A socio-economic survey commissioned by the Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACYT) and coordinated by The Billfish Foundation documented the positive contribution of the sportfishing eco-tourism trade to Panama. The La Presna article cited this study, reporting that tourist anglers traveling to Panama to sportfish, on average, have incomes of $75,000, as if this were a negative.  They bring $97 million new dollars to the Panamanian economy each year. ARAP would apparently prefer these dollars to be spent in nations other than Panama.  The real issue is per capita value of a recreationally caught and released fish versus the same for one killed and marketed, and the comparison overwhelmingly favors the recreational fishery.

Panama does need to establish a responsible data collection system for each of its highly migratory fisheries, including the sportfishing trade.  The resulting data should be submitted annually to the Intra-American Tuna Commission (IATTC), the international regional management organization for the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for Atlantic species.  ICCAT has cited Panama more than once for failure of some of its commercial vessels to fish consistent with the international organizations conservation requirements. The sportfishing community around the world strongly favors effective monitoring of harvest, science-based fishing regulations and effective enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations.  Well-managed – not artificially restricted – sport fisheries can generate revenues via licenses to provide for scientific management and law enforcement activities.

Lastly, the reference made in the article that a large drop from 72 tons of marlin landed by U.S. anglers in years past was down to 212 fish implied the drop was due to sportfishing-induced high mortality rates.  Not so.  The drop was a voluntary step offered by a U.S. delegation before ICCAT to limit their landings to no more than 250 marlin, white and blue combined, each year. The purpose was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to billfish conservation, responsible angling and hopefully, to inspire other nations to take some measures to reduce their marlin mortality.   This international measure is in addition to the U.S prohibition of the landing, sale, trade or barter of any Atlantic marlin, spearfish or sailfish caught by U.S. commercial fishing vessels.  The U.S. government recognized years ago that these billfish species are far more valuable to a nation for sportfishing than as dead fish killed for sale.

Hopefully, Panama will take pride in its sportfishing eco-tourism trade and all related businesses and provide responsible government support.  Fishery management no longer is solely about tons of dead fish.  Both commercial and sportfishing fisheries need responsible management for the good of a nation and its dependent businesses.  Sometimes, the management objectives will favor the commercial fishing trade while other resources will be better allocated to the sportfishing eco-tourism trade.  Both industries should be managed fairly and responsibly. To that end, it is critical that equitable representation from the sportfishing eco-tourism trade, the commercial fishing industry and the scientific community be included on each of the Working Groups established by ARAP’s Board of Directors for the purpose of updating the nation’s fishery law. Sportfishing anglers are not preservationists but are responsible users of the fish resources, desiring healthy and sustainable fish populations, and need to be involved in the management process.

Members of the sportfishing eco-tourism trade in Panama should immediately and collectively make their position clear to numerous governmental departments at the highest possible level; otherwise, ill-conceived and counter-productive restraints may soon follow through the amendment of the Fisheries Act.

The post Panama’s Sportfishing Eco-Tourism Trade Could Be Hurt appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

View Full Article

Panama’s Sportfishing Eco-Tourism Trade Could Be Hurt

Regrettably, the recent La Presna article dated August 16, 2015 that quotes Ivan Flores, Manager of the Aquatic Resources and Fisheries Authority (ARAP), did not focus on the sustainable use of and positive economic returns to Panama generated from its sportfishing eco-tourism trade, which is predominantly a catch and release fishery for highly migratory fish (marlin, sailfish, tunas).  Instead, the article attempted to justify restraints on the nation’s lucrative sportfishing eco-tourism trade, based on the stated need “to minimize harm it [sportfishing] causes to the marine biology,” without defining or elaborating on what that means – fish, water quality, habitat, flora, etc.

There are several issues not accurately or fairly stated. For one, the release mortality estimates in the cited studies cannot be extrapolated to the recreational fishery as a whole but instead reflect conditions unique to specific situations. When combined with other studies, these results documented the benefits from the use of circle hooks with less than a 5 degree offset. These hooks are widely used in catch and release recreational billfish fisheries to maximize survival, and are now required by anglers fishing in Costa Rica and in the U.S. when using natural baits in tournaments.   It is perhaps noteworthy that the authors of the article did not inform the readers that one study (Jensen et al. 2010) found that temporary closures of Mexico’s EEZ to long-lining from 1977–1980 and 1984–1985 had a rapid effect on local abundance of striped marlin.  The article did not include closing some waters to pelagic longline gear as an option to improve the state of fisheries in Panama.

Panama would lose significant jobs and tax revenues through ill-advised restrictions on sportfishing. A socio-economic survey commissioned by the Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACYT) and coordinated by The Billfish Foundation documented the positive contribution of the sportfishing eco-tourism trade to Panama. The La Presna article cited this study, reporting that tourist anglers traveling to Panama to sportfish, on average, have incomes of $75,000, as if this were a negative.  They bring $97 million new dollars to the Panamanian economy each year. ARAP would apparently prefer these dollars to be spent in nations other than Panama.  The real issue is per capita value of a recreationally caught and released fish versus the same for one killed and marketed, and the comparison overwhelmingly favors the recreational fishery.

Panama does need to establish a responsible data collection system for each of its highly migratory fisheries, including the sportfishing trade.  The resulting data should be submitted annually to the Intra-American Tuna Commission (IATTC), the international regional management organization for the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for Atlantic species.  ICCAT has cited Panama more than once for failure of some of its commercial vessels to fish consistent with the international organizations conservation requirements. The sportfishing community around the world strongly favors effective monitoring of harvest, science-based fishing regulations and effective enforcement of fisheries laws and regulations.  Well-managed – not artificially restricted – sport fisheries can generate revenues via licenses to provide for scientific management and law enforcement activities.

Lastly, the reference made in the article that a large drop from 72 tons of marlin landed by U.S. anglers in years past was down to 212 fish implied the drop was due to sportfishing-induced high mortality rates.  Not so.  The drop was a voluntary step offered by a U.S. delegation before ICCAT to limit their landings to no more than 250 marlin, white and blue combined, each year. The purpose was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to billfish conservation, responsible angling and hopefully, to inspire other nations to take some measures to reduce their marlin mortality.   This international measure is in addition to the U.S prohibition of the landing, sale, trade or barter of any Atlantic marlin, spearfish or sailfish caught by U.S. commercial fishing vessels.  The U.S. government recognized years ago that these billfish species are far more valuable to a nation for sportfishing than as dead fish killed for sale.

Hopefully, Panama will take pride in its sportfishing eco-tourism trade and all related businesses and provide responsible government support.  Fishery management no longer is solely about tons of dead fish.  Both commercial and sportfishing fisheries need responsible management for the good of a nation and its dependent businesses.  Sometimes, the management objectives will favor the commercial fishing trade while other resources will be better allocated to the sportfishing eco-tourism trade.  Both industries should be managed fairly and responsibly. To that end, it is critical that equitable representation from the sportfishing eco-tourism trade, the commercial fishing industry and the scientific community be included on each of the Working Groups established by ARAP’s Board of Directors for the purpose of updating the nation’s fishery law. Sportfishing anglers are not preservationists but are responsible users of the fish resources, desiring healthy and sustainable fish populations, and need to be involved in the management process.

Members of the sportfishing eco-tourism trade in Panama should immediately and collectively make their position clear to numerous governmental departments at the highest possible level; otherwise, ill-conceived and counter-productive restraints may soon follow through the amendment of the Fisheries Act.

The post Panama’s Sportfishing Eco-Tourism Trade Could Be Hurt appeared first on The Billfish Foundation.

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Billfish Genetic Sampling with VIMS

Photo Courtesy of Brant Wise

Given their popularity with sportfish anglers worldwide, you would think much more would be known about the biology of billfish (marlin, sailfish, and spearfish), however that is not the case. For example, the number of populations of most species in a particular ocean is unknown, and there is not a clear idea of the amount of mixing between populations. This not only makes management difficult but is a major roadblock to understanding how billfish populations interact with one another and with geographically different groups of anglers. Angler and scientist efforts, such as tagging of billfish species, have revealed a great deal of information on billfish movements and growth rates, but there are additional ways in which anglers can help improve our understanding of billfish populations.

Nayda examining tissue samples

The Billfish Foundation continually looks to collaborate with research institutions to learn more about billfish. TBF is currently working with PhD candidate, Nadya Mamoozadeh, at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Gloucester Point, Virginia, USA), whose research is based on understanding the population structure of billfish. Her focus is on two species, white marlin (Kajikia albida) in the Atlantic Ocean, and striped marlin (K. audax) in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Nadya’s research calls for tissue samples of white marlin and striped marlin from throughout their distributional ranges, with special emphasis on samples from spawning grounds. Inferences from the genetic results compared with those from tagging data help get a comprehensive picture of population structure and can improve conservation measures and management of these species. Collectively this information is also important for understanding which billfish populations are accessed by a particular fishery in a given space and time and can help prevent unintentional overfishing of one population compared to another.

Sampling kit

This is where TBF’s global network of hundreds of thousands of anglers, captains, and mates comes in to the picture. The sampling process is easy: cut a small piece of the fin from a hooked fish, then the fin clip is put in a tube of preservative and held until the end of the season, at which point the sample tubes are shipped back to Nadya, free of charge. Collecting a sample for genetic analysis can easily be done alongside tagging. If participating in this research project is of interest to you, let Nayda (nrmamoozadeh@vims.edu) or Peter Chaibongsai (peter_chaibongsai@billfish.org) know and we will be glad to get a sampling kit your way.

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