2019 Conservation Record Spearfish

2020 Conservation Record: Spearfish

Spearfish photo, courtesy of Giles Perran

Spearfish, courtesy of Giles Perran

The Billfish Foundation maintains the largest private tag and release database in the world, with over 260,000 records by over 150,000 anglers. In 2020 alone, TBF anglers and captains tagged, released, or recaptured 7,000 billfish and tuna across the world. Of these 7,000 new records, 44 were of spearfish. Spearfish are the least represented billfish in the TBF dataset, making every new report that much more important. Thank you to everyone that tagged and released spearfish last year. Click here for information on our Tag and Release Program and here to purchase tagging equipment and other TBF items.

In 2020, captains and anglers worldwide tagged 36 spearfish and released 8 without tags. Of these 44 fish, 14 were Atlantic longbill spearfish (Tetrapturus pfluegeri) and 30 were Pacific shortbill spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris). For more information on the difference between the two, check out our youtube channel.


Captains and anglers across the world tagged 36 spearfish in 2020. Of these, 25 were tagged in the Pacific and 11 were tagged in the Atlantic. More specifically, spearfish were tagged from only three countries: USA (Hawaii, Florida, and New Jersey), Spain, and France.

On average, tagged spearfish weighed 26.4lbs (12kg) and measured 52.2in (132.6cm) in length. The largest spearfish tagged was 50lbs (22.7kg) and the smallest was only 10lbs (4.5kg)!

Spearfish tagging density map for 2020

Sixteen anglers and eight captains tagged the collective 36 spearfish last year. As in years past, the vast majority of the spearfish tagged (25 of 36) were tagged in Hawaii! Captain Tracy Epstein and angler Chad Beaudry aboard Last Chance shouldered the majority of the Hawaiian tagging effort, which was also supported by Captain KJ Robinson and the Wyatt family aboard Sea Genie II. In the Atlantic, Captain Vince Riera aboard Mad Max out of Mallorca, Spain is responsible for the greatest tagging effort.

Spearfish tagging map for Hawaii 2020

Consistent with years past, nearly all of the spearfish tags were administered in the spring and summer.

Spearfish tagging month-by-month graph



Only eight spearfish were released without tags in 2020. Once again, the majority of these were in Hawaii by Captain Tracy Epstein and Chad Beaudry aboard Last Chance. Similar to tags, one spearfish was released near Spain by Captain Vince Riera aboard Mad Max. Unlike tags, however, spearfish were released in two more countries: the Dominican Republic by the Eight Eights team and Cape Verde by the Hebe team. These teams make up the only four captains and four anglers that released spearfish is 2020.

Spearfish release density map for 2020

Also like the tagged spearfish, all of the spearfish released were done so in the warm spring and summer months.

Spearfish releases month-by-month graph


Thank you to all of the captains, mates, and anglers that tagged and released spearfish in 2020. Much is still not known about spearfish life history and migratory habits, so your tagging efforts are greatly needed. We are incredibly appreciative of everyone that helped us gather data on spearfish in 2020, and we are excited to learn more in 2021! To stay up-to-date with all things billfish, become a member, subscribe to our newsletter, visit our online shop, and follow us on social media, @TheBillfishFoundation.

*Please note that this review contains only data that was recorded between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 and received by TBF by February 30th, 2021.