IGFA's Conservation Work Update for February 2024

The IGFA works ardently on a global scale to ensure that the fisheries and habitats we love are properly managed and that the interests of recreational anglers are represented appropriately. Please read the summary below to learn more about what the IGFA’s Conservation Department has achieved over the past quarter.

Here are some highlights of the work the IGFA has been doing recently:


IGFA Great Marlin Race

The IGFA’s flagship research program in collaboration with Stanford University, continues to deploy tags around the globe with nearly 600 satellite tags deployed in 23 countries since 2011. With each tag deployed, we learn more about billfish behavioral patterns which helps the scientific community better understand what drives these species and improves our ability to conserve and manage them for the future.

      • In late 2023, two tags popped up revealing some incredible results. The first was deployed on a 100lb blue marlin for 149 days following deployment during the 2023 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. The tag popped up 2,124nm from where it was deployed and is estimated to have travelled a total of 2,446nm as it swam to the northeast. This tag was sponsored by Mike Verzaleno of the Reel Steel captained by Jason Parker. The second tag was deployed on a 210lb striped marlin for the full 240 day trial off New Zealand. This tag popped up 1,197nm from where it was placed in the marlin and is estimated to have travelled a total distance of 4,748nm. This tag was part of the New Zealand 2023 race and was deployed aboard the Trident captained by Paul Atmore who also sponsored the tag.
      • In January 2024, two tags were deployed and one popped up. The first to be deployed was sponsored by the Dana Angling Club and placed on a striped marlin off Baja Mexico as part of the 2023 SoCal Event. This tag was deployed by Jim Kingsmill aboard the Ramble On Rose where he is also the Captain, it is expected to pop up on 6/30/24. The second to be deployed was in New Zealand where a 200lb striped marlin was tagged aboard the Nammu captained by Dave Wooff who also placed the tag, it is expected to pop up on 9/2/24.
      • On January 31st, a full duration white marlin tag popped up after 240 days attached to the fish following deployment near Abaco, Bahamas. Incredibly the tag popped up just 141nm from where it was deployed. This tag is part of a grant program sponsored by The Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. It was deployed aboard the Shark Byte, captained by Rich Barrett. The fish was caught by Pete Cherasia and tagged by John Stukel. Stay tuned for more information as the data transmits to our partners at Stanford.


Golden Dorado Research Program

The Golden Dorado Research Program is in the final stages with genetic analyses nearly completed and verified. Preliminary results reveal some very promising findings we will be sharing later in the year as they become available. Over the next few months, the UMass Amherst team, led by Dr. Andy Danylchuk and Dr. Lisa Komoroske, will distribute surveys to the network of South American angling community, the results of which will help to build a “best practices” document for the recreational fishery in the region. The team will also continue to develop manuscripts on the impact of dams and the results of the genetic studies completed.


Roosterfish Research Program

The IGFA Roosterfish Research program continues to make progress in the second year of sampling. Fin clip samples have already been completed in Mexico and Costa Rica and is ongoing in Guatemala. The second year will also see Ecuador added to the sampling map, allowing the project to cover the full range of roosterfish in the Eastern Pacific. Stay tuned over the coming months for more information and preliminary results!

7th International Billfish Symposium

Preparations are underway for the 7th International Billfish Symposium, taking place in San Diego on October 8-10, 2024. Registration for the Symposium will open early this month followed by the opening of the abstract submission portal. This meeting will bring together the world’s experts in billfish research and will include technical discussions, scientific presentations, and panel discussions. Logistics for the meeting have been planned by Wild Ocean’s President, Rob Kramer, IGFA Development Director, Eric Combast and Conservation Director, Dr. Bruce Pohlot who will also co-chair the symposium with Dr. Gerard DiNardo. The steering committee has been created and consists of numerous top scientists that will assist in the organization of scientific sessions and abstract review as well as participate during the symposium. These include multiple IGFA Scientific Affiliates who have been instrumental in recent efforts. This is a major opportunity for IGFA to continue operating as a top authority on billfish research.

Black Bass Publication

Over the past year, Conservation Director Dr. Bruce Pohlot and Angler Recognition Manager Zack Bellapigna have been working with Dr. Andrew Taylor of the University of North Georgia on properly identifying IGFA World Records for black bass species in the US. Much confusion exists around black bass identification as illegal and legal stocking have resulted in an abundance of hybrids and have made it very difficult to determine which rivers, lakes, and basin contain each species. During this process, IGFA records have been examined by experts to determine the proper identification of each species and whether new species were available for record consideration. A manuscript was developed and submitted to Fisheries and was accepted for publication in January. The manuscript outlines the importance of proper identification based on region, the genetic studies relevant to the region, and how angler stocking fish relocation between basins can significantly impact fisheries. The manuscript also touches on angler perceptions of black bass fisheries relative to IGFA records. Stay tuned for more outreach on the topic in future International Angler issues as well as prominent bass angling magazines. This paper is available for a cost here: https://afspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fsh.11051

Advocacy/Policy Work 

Over the past few months, the IGFA has also signed on to numerous coalition letters and provided input to ongoing legislative actions both in the US and internationally.  A sampling of the more significant coalition letters of which the IGFA participated can be found on the IGFA website here https://igfa.org/fisheries-policy/.

  1. Provided Comments on NOAA’s Amendment 15.
  2. Supported Management Changes to California Gillnet Fisheries.
  3. Signed on to a letter drafted by the Center for Sportfishing Policy, among other fishing non-profits, to express our support for the creation of a Recreational Committee within the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC).
  4. Signed on to a letter alongside a large group of fishing non-profits and organizations addressed to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology expressing our strong support for the amendments included in H.R. 6093, the Weather Act Reauthorization of 2023, to reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA).
  5. Signed on to a letter addressed to to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and developed by Wild Oceans and other groups involved in Northeast forage fish management.
  6. Signed on to a letter addressed to NOAA Assistant Administrator Janet Coit requesting NOAA Fisheries suspend further action on proposed changes to the North Atlantic right whale (NARW) vessel speed rule published July 29, 2022.
  7. Signed on to a letter addressed to Congressman Graves and Congressman Veasey thanking them for their leadership with the Marine Fisheries Habitat Protection Act.
  8. Signed on to a letter addressed to the Chairman of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and sent by a large number of recreational fishing and boating organizations.