For two decades across the world, captains, anglers and mates have committed to tag and release of billfish supplying data for conservation efforts critical to scientific research. Annually TBF members from more than 70 countries are invited to participate in the latest competition which ran from Nov. 1, 2008 to Oct. 31, 2009. Across the globe they are the heart-and-soul of The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) eminent Tag & Release program.

In its latest annual “competition” a combined total of nearly 13,500 TBF “tagging data reports” and “release notification cards” were generated from three of the world’s five Oceans which include the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian, where a majority of the world’s billfish inhabit the temperate waters. For captains, anglers, and mates to receive an award, they must be an active TBF member and have tagged and/or released five or more of a species to qualify. For youth anglers under 18 a minimum of three fish are required to qualify.


The winners of TBF’s 20th year-long competition were presented their 2010 International Tag & Release Awards at The Billfish Expo with one angler taking double top honors. Peter Chaibongsai, TBF’s Director of Science and Policy said Paul Bender of Newport Beach, Calif., USA, swept both the overall Tag & Release angling title categories, reprising his role reprising his winning performances of last year.  Posting a win in the captain’s tagging division was Mike Sheeder, Miami, Fla. USA. Betsy Crudele, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was the top tagging female angler, and Victoria Roberts, Stevensville, Md., USA, was the overall youth tag winner. A total of 4,577 were tagged and released

Chaibongsai pointed out that billfish tagged and released are not counted in the Release Category and only counted in the Tag Category. In addition a total of 8,766 billfish were released without being tagged. Overall release winners included Guatemala’s Capt. Brad Philipps, who “three-peated” his 2008 and 2009 titles in the captain’s division.

Martha Macnab, Balboa Island, Calif., USA was the overall lady angler with the most combined releases and Holt Crews, Jr. of Jackson, Miss., USA was honored as the overall youth angler. Each winner was presented a trophy made by King Sailfish Mounts.

(For a full list of award winners, please scroll to the agate at the bottom).

“While many people were recognized at the ceremony, TBF was proud to honor Captain Ron Hamlin of West Palm Beach, Fla., for his long-standing conservation ethic and his courtesy to step down from the yearly competition for other noteworthy captains to win the tagging awards for captains.”

“TBF was happy to also see four sets of families win awards.  The Davis’s (father Mark and son Wes), the Sheeder brothers (Chris and Mike), the Richardson’s (father John and son Wade) and the Robert’s (father Jimmie Roberts Jr., son Jimmie Roberts III, and daughter Victoria) families all clearly show how fishing can incorporate the entire family.”

Chaibongsai said TBF received a total of 13,443 tag and release records in the 2008 – 2009 competition year.  Of the over 4500 billfish tagged 64% were split evenly at 32% between blue marlin and sailfish with striped marlin the third most popular fish at 14%, followed in fourth place by black marlin at 11%, and white marlin at 8% for fifth.

Of the nearly 9000 fish released with no tag, striped marlin accounted for over half at 56%. Sailfish accounted for 38% followed by blue marlin with 4% and black marlin at 1%.

“While TBF saw a decrease in the amount of tag and release effort in the 2008 – 2009 competition year, most likely due to difficult economic times, we received data from fairly virgin territories like Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.” In addition this years tag and release data came in from anglers in other countries including Angola, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Polynesia, Fiji, Ghana, Grenada, Guam, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherland Antilles, New Zealand, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela, Tahiti, Thailand, Turks & Caicos, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the United States.


Chaibongsai said once a fish is tagged, the matching tagging report card is filled out and sent to TBF. “We rely heavily on these volunteers on the Oceans, who each year are our ambassadors to marine science in the activities of billfish conservation,” he said. “TBF’s annual tag and release competitions contribute significant data revealing billfish numbers, their age, growth, movements and migration routes, and other factors critical to understanding these species to share with scientists, fisheries authorities and policy makers world wide for responsible management of all billfish, swordfish and other highly migratory species.”

“That information is kept in our database. Since TBF’s Tag and Release Program houses the largest private database of billfish data, international and domestic marine resource managing bodies like the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) rely on TBF to update their databases and increase their knowledge of billfish.”

The ceremony was sponsored by The Billfish Expo and Costa Sunglasses and the impressive awards were presented by King Sailfish Mounts. TBF’s annual Tag and Release Program was sponsored by American Custom Yachts, Dockwise Yacht Transport, King Sailfish Mounts, Rampage Yachts and Rybovich Yachts.

The Billfish Foundation

Tag & Release Award Winners 2009

(presented at The Billfish Expo, Feb. 13,2010, Miami, Fla.)


Anglers – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Sam Jennings, Juno Beach, Fla., USA

Sailfish – Betsy Crudele, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., USA

White Marlin – Victoria Roberts, Stevensville, Md., USA

Captains – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Zak Conde, Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands

Sailfish – Bouncer Smith, Miami, Fla., USA

Mate 1: Abie Raymond, Miami, Fla., USA

Swordfish – Bouncer Smith, Miami, Fla., USA

Mate 1: Abie Raymond, Miami, Fla., USA

White Marlin – Jimmie Roberts Jr. Stevensville, Md., USA

Mate 1: Jimmie Roberts III, Stevensville, Md., USA

Mate 2: Dale Phillips, Stevensville, Md., USA

Anglers – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – John Richardson, Bellville, Texas, USA

Blue Marlin – Mark Davis, Malibu, Calif., USA

Sailfish – Ethan Moore, Tuscaloosa, Ala., USA

Spearfish – Paul Dolinoy, Huntington Beach, Calif.,USA

Striped Marlin – Paul Bender, Newport Beach, Calif., USA

Captains – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – Gilberto Secaida, Panama

Blue Marlin – Gene VanderHoek, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

Mate 1: Chris Choy, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

Sailfish – Mike Sheeder, Miami, Fla., USA

Spearfish – Gene VanderHoek, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

Mate 1: Chris Choy Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

Striped Marlin – Bernabe Ruiz, Coral Bay, Western Australia

Anglers – Indian Ocean

Sailfish – Allie Mason, Seychelles

Captains – Indian Ocean

Black Marlin – Bernard Vale, Coral Bay, Western Australia

Blue Marlin – Ross Newton, Broome, Western Australia

Sailfish – Ross Newton, Broome, Western Australia

Overall Tagging

Angler – Paul Bender, Newport Beach, Calif., USA

Captain – Mike Sheeder,   Miami, Fla., USA

Female Angler – Betsy Crudele, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., USA

Youth Tagging

11 – 12 – Wes Davis, Malibu, Calif., USA

13 – 15 – Tyler SudbrinkGreensboro, NC, USA

Jacquie Rushford – Broome, Western Australia (runnerup)

16 – 17 – Victoria Roberts, Stevensville, Md., USA

Overall Youth Tagging

 Victoria Roberts, Stevensville, Md., USA


Anglers – Pacific Ocean

Black – Robbie Angus, Keri Keri, New Zealand

Blue – Gary Carter, Duluth, Ga., USA

Sailfish – Jim Turner, Miami, Fla., USA

Striped – Paul Bender, Newport Beach, Calif., USA

Captains – Pacific Ocean

Black Marlin – Wade Richardson, Bellville, Texas USA

Mate 1: Jilberto Cansari

Mate 2: Jonathan Lamastus

Blue Marlin – Chris Sheeder, Miami, Fla., USA

Sailfish – Brad Philipps, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Mate 1: Kennedy Hernandez

Mate 2: Johnny Garcia

Striped Marlin – Julio Gonzalez, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Swordfish – John Gregory, Kerikeri, New Zealand

Anglers – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Gary Carter, Duluth, Ga.., USA

Sailfish – Bob DeGabrielle, Jupiter, Fla., USA

White Marlin – Carole Speicher, Leola, Pa., USA

Captains – Atlantic Ocean

Blue Marlin – Bonze Fleet, Opua, New Zealand

Mate 1: Feliciano Tavares

Sailfish – VJ Bell, Jupiter, Fla., USA

White Marlin – Donald Speicher, Leola, Pa., USA

Mate 1: Jason Bohlen, Baltimore Md., USA

Captains – Indian Ocean

Black Marlin – Bernard Vale, Coral Bay, Australia

Sailfish – Perry Rosalie, Seychelles

Mate 1: Mervin Magnan, Seychelles           

Overall Release Winners

Angler – Paul Bender, Newport Beach, Calif., USA

Captain – Brad Philipps, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Mate 1: Kennedy Hernandez

Mate 2: Johnny Garcia

Female Angler – Martha Macnab, Balboa Island, Calif., USA

Youth Release

11 – 12 – Holt Crews, Jr. Jackson, Miss., USA

Ignacio Lefranc, Santruce, Puerto Rico (runner-up)

13 – 15 – Robbie Angus, Keri Keri, New Zealand

Thomas Mathew Hardy, Centerville, Md., USA (runner-up)

Overall Youth Release

 Holt Crews, Jr. Jackson, Miss., USA

Tag Category: 4,577 billfish; Release Category: 8,766 billfish; Combined total: 13,443

Statistics: Of over 4500 fish tagged

32% – Blue Marlin

32% – Sailfish

14% – Striped Marlin

11% – Black Marlin

8% – White Marlin

2% – Spearfish

1% – Swordfish

Of nearly 9000 fish released (without tag)

56% – Striped Marlin

38% – Sailfish

4% – Blue Marlin

1% – Black Marlin

<1% – White Marlin

<.1% – Swordfish

<.1% – Spearfish