The Billfish Foundation works worldwide to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species to improve the health of oceans and economies. Considering the context of a planet with over seven billion human inhabitants, conservation strategies must be forward-looking and adaptive. By accounting for the roles of billfish within the marine environment as well as in relation to their interactions with humanity, TBF’s conservation campaigns maintain the flexibility to adapt to emergent threats as well as those which have historically confronted resource managers. TBF employs a multi-tiered, proactive suite of initiatives involving research—both biological and socioeconomic–education, and advocacy projects. As billfish and other highly migratory species are not confined to the territorial waters of any one nation, these strategies must also take into account the differences in culture and law inherent to the international arena. Empowered by an internationally diverse constituent network, The Billfish Foundation is uniquely equipped to do just this.
Research & Advocacy
TBF works at both the national and international levels to further billfish conservation and policies that support anglers’ rights to fish. Billfish are highly migratory species (HMS) and are therefore governed at the international level by regional fishery management organizations (RFMO) which then hand down management to individual countries. TBF participates in these international fishery meetings of all regions, considering the global reach of billfish species, and serves as a voice for the fish as well as recreational anglers.
Humans know more about the moon than the ocean, so it may come as no surprise that there is likewise little understood about billfish. TBF strives to fill these gaps of knowledge by supporting and conducting research that assesses billfish stocks, identifies billfish threats, quantifies socioeconomic contributions of billfish, and examines billfish-human interactions across the globe, to name a few. See our publications here, and if you’d like to support our projects, consider becoming a member.
Much of the scientific body of knowledge pertaining to billfish has resulted from conventional tagging programs. From its inception in 1990, TBF’s Tagging Database has grown into the world’s largest and most extensive private billfish tag and release program. Tagging provides science with information about migrations, billfish densities, growth rates, and other important life history characteristics. Tag and release reports come to the Foundation each year from six continents. The anglers, captains, mates, and fishing fleets that participate in tagging provide TBF science and conservation programs with invaluable data that would impossible to gather without them. Because tagging is of such importance to TBF, The Billfish Foundation recognizes members for their contributions to science. Please see our online store for tags and tagging equipment and TBF’s Tag & Release Program for more information including instructions on how to properly tag.
The International Tagging Competition:
The Billfish Foundation recognizes the anglers, captains, mates, and youth anglers 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 with trophies provided by King Sailfish Mounts at TBF’s Tagging Awards Ceremony held each year amid the Miami International Boat Show. Lists of TBF award winners reads like a who’s who of the international sportfishing community. Those recognized not only exhibit great skill in catching numbers of fish, but embody the conservation ethic so important to the oceans’ future. All anglers and captains that submit their TBF tag and or release information are eligible to compete. The year-long competition begins in November and all participants are responsible for submitting their catch records by November of the following year.
Regional Competitions – NEW as of 2014
TBF would like to engage anglers and captains in the Gulf of Mexico and South Florida and recognize the world class crews from the regions. The Gulf of Mexico Marlin Tagging Competition and the SoFlo Sailfish Circuit create new divisions and categories within TBF’s International Tag & Release Competition giving anglers from these regions a chance to win.
TBF members receive official release certificates for every billfish they tag and or release. These handsome certificates prominently feature marine artist Carey Chen’s depiction of the world’s billfish species. Whether framed in the office, the home, or on the boat, Release Certificates provide a lasting memento of days on the water and fish released to fight another day.
TBF Club and Regional Competitions:
The Billfish Foundation also works with fishing clubs and regional fleets to recognize anglers, captains, and mates for their fishing and conservation skill in relation to their peers. With club personnel keeping score and sending the data to TBF for incorporation into the database, this competition recognizes anglers who are members of both fishing clubs and TBF.
The Billfish Foundation works with scientists and anglers on a wide variety of satellite tagging projects across the world. The tags provide real time information of fish travels and the oceanographic conditions they favor. By understanding the movements of billfish and areas of particular importance to feeding, spawning, and other activities, TBF is able to provide policy makers with persuasive evidence for targeted conservation. Satellite tagging programs have illustrated areas of oxygen depletion in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, the travels of Atlantic marlin off the coast of South America, and aggregations of billfish off of the coast of Africa. As satellite tags are expensive (roughly $4,000 each), TBF’s ability to work with policy makers, scientists, and the recreational fishing community to isolate important areas for research and translate the findings into conservation policy is of central importance. In spite of all the advantages of satellite tags, they cannot replace traditional tagging or its importance to conservation.