Information from the IGFA is now accessible to more anglers, in more countries, in more different languages, than ever before.
The year 2012 will go down in the annals of IGFA history as a very significant year. Considerable strides were made in game fish conservation, further reinforcing the IGFA’s position as the most widely recognized international authority on game fish and angling related matters.
On the conservation front, the IGFA along with our partners at Stanford University completed year one of the IGFA Great Marlin Race. Through the leadership of IGFA Chairman Paxson Offield and IGFA Representative Bob Kurz, the IGFA successfully deployed 36 satellite tags in the first-ever global satellite tracking program on marlin. Thousands of data points were obtained and all of this information is open and accessible to scientists and anglers around the world. And although satellite tags have been used on marlin for over a decade, never before has a coordinated effort using this type of technology been undertaken on such a massive geographic scale.
Also on the conservation front, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a ban on the importation of billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) into the continental United States. This equates to some 30,000 billfish annually for which there will no longer be a market in the United States, and eliminates once and for all the United States’ reign as the world’s largest importer of billfish. This was a culmination of a three year effort with our friends from the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, along with the support of IGFA Trustee Carlos Pellas, my good friend Tim Choate, and numerous other groups in the recreational and environmental communities.
Capitalizing on the latest innovations in communications technology also figured prominently in our accomplishments for 2012. Information from the IGFA is now accessible to more anglers, in more countries, in more different languages, than ever before. Utilizing social media, smartphone interfaces, video distribution, and a new free IGFA I-Membership, we are now able to provide timely information that will make anglers better fishermen and better stewards of the resource.
However, we are just getting started with all of these efforts and more. We have already confirmed additional satellite tag deployments to take place in South Africa, Western Australia, Kenya, Brazil, Morocco and other locations. We have already started working with friends and IGFA members in New Zealand in an effort to ban the importation of billfish in that country. Additionally, we are seeking ways to leverage the passing of the Billfish Conservation Act in the United States to implement further conservation measures throughout the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
The vision of our new I-Membership is to create a free, global angler registry where information can be exchanged instantly, and subsets of the greater world recreational fishing community can be organized and mobilized. This type of network could also be used to collect valuable data on ourselves to be utilized proactively in fishery management forums and other scientific endeavors.
So 2012 will be viewed not as the completion of great things, but a great step in a new era to ensure a better future for game fish and for those who pursue them.