IGFA Regional Council Update for March 2024

Over the past five years the IGFA has established Regional Councils throughout the world to help drive the organization’s strategy at the regional level. These Regional Councils provide an organizational structure that allows IGFA Representatives and other constituents to collaborate on relevant issues in their respective areas of the world.

IGFA Regional Councils are made up of elected IGFA Trustees, IGFA Representatives, IGFA members, IGFA Captains and members of select local recreational angling NGOs who represent the interests, fisheries, and issues affecting specific areas within the Regional Council’s purview.

Below is a summary of the recent activities of the six established IGFA Regional Councils. For any questions regarding the IGFA Representatives & Regional Councils programs, please contact Andy Saldana at [email protected].

IGFA Central America & Caribbean Regional Council

Through the IGFA Passports to Fishing kit program, numerous children are introduced to angling skills, environmental awareness, and conservation ethics.

The Central America and Caribbean Regional Council, along with its Development & Recognition Committee, has been engaged in extensive lobbying efforts to attract more fishing clubs into the IGFA Benefactor Club program. To date, clubs from Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela have received invitations to join the program. Fishing clubs that join at the Benefactor Club level through this initiative are eligible to receive an IGFA Passports to Fishing kit. Through this program, numerous children are introduced to angling skills, environmental awareness, and conservation ethics. The combination use of the IGFA Passports to Fishing program as an incentive to attract Benefactor Clubs has proven to be highly effective, and beneficial for both young anglers and fishing clubs in the region.

In the realm of conservation, the evaluation of new locations to deploy satellite tags for the Great Marlin Race in the Caribbean is underway. To date within the region, IGFA Great Marlin Race tags have only been deployed in The Bahamas. The Roosterfish Research Program remains active, with the focus of sampling locations falling primarily in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico. The objective for 2024 is to extend the research to South America, aiming to determine roosterfish gene flow and population connectivity from Baja, Mexico, to Ecuador.

IGFA Europe & Mediterranean Regional Council

Dates for the 2024 IGFA Mediterranean Championship have been confirmed, and the tournament will once again be held in Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, Italy, from July 11-14, 2024.

In 2023, two satellite tags were deployed on Mediterranean spearfish as part of the IGFA Great Marlin Race. Unfortunately, one surfaced after two days, but the second, deployed in August, is still attached to the fish, and should be reporting data soon. Plans are underway for an IGFA Great Marlin Race tagging event in Egypt in May 2024, to deploy satellite tags on sailfish.

The Council’s Conservation Committee is collaborating with the Italian National Research Institute for a new satellite tagging program using small tags to track the daily behaviors of the Mediterranean spearfish in the Strait of Messina. These tags record only positions and are designed to be physically recovered within 24 to 48 hours of deployment. The program aims to conduct two separate campaigns of one week, each in late June and mid-July 2024, deploying at least six tags and capturing feeding footage of Mediterranean spearfish using drones.

Finally, the Council is set to collaborate with the LIFE EU Sharks project, a collaborative initiative led by SZN Anton Dohrn, in conjunction with the University of Split (Croatia), University of Florence, and MedSharks, among others. IGFA will play a key role in formulating guidelines on the safe release of sharks by recreational anglers and during sport fishing tournaments in the Mediterranean Sea.

IGFA North America Regional Council

IGFA Trustee Bob Kurz and  IGFA Representative Chris Wheaton of California, have been spearheading efforts to represent the IGFA at some of the most prominent industry events on the west coast of the US, including the Bart Hall Shows and the Pacific Coast Sportfishing Festival. The IGFA greatly appreciates the support of all IGFA Representatives, members and friends who volunteered their time to help out at the booth and promote the IGFA vision and mission.

IGFA Representative Barry Puskas of Ohio helped promote the IGFA during the 2023 Great Miami Riverway Fishing Challenge, where the IGFA served as a sponsor. Barry provided participants with information on the IGFA and its angler recognition programs, encouraging participants to register their IGFA Bass Grand Slams. IGFA electronic memberships were gifted to the first two anglers to register their IGFA Bass Grand Slams caught on conventional tackle, and the first two anglers to register their IGFA Bass Grand Slams in the fly-fishing category.

IGFA Representative Dr. Jan Forzpaniak of Florida held a series of educational seminars during a recent trip to the Turks & Caicos. Jan, along with his wife, held various in-the-classroom events where they educated participants on the importance of habitat conservation and sustainable fishing. They also held IGFA Passports to Fishing clinics for hands-on education.

IGFA South America Regional Council

The second edition of the Copa MGX fishing tournament occurred on November 11-12, 2023, in Tacna, Peru. This recurring event, promoting catch-and-release practices—a novel concept for many local anglers—reported a remarkable 100% release rate, marking a resounding success! The tournament attracted participation from Chilean and Bolivian anglers, regions currently lacking IGFA representation. Additionally, IGFA Passports to Fishing events were facilitated by IGFA Representatives and volunteers during the tournament, introducing the sport to enthusiastic youth.

Council officer and IGFA Captain Luis Rios recently published a book titled: Development of Sportfishing in Peru/ Opportunities for Natural Protected Areas. In the book, Luis discusses the great opportunity that a well-managed recreational angling tourist industry in these areas represents for a slowly recovering post-COVID-19 tourist flow in Peru. The book has garnered positive feedback from officials in Natural Protected Areas, who are referencing it in discussions on developing new activities in these regions. Currently, Luis is actively working on several upcoming publications, including a list of the top fishing destinations in Peru and an entry guide to fishing tackle.

IGFA Oceania Regional Council

The Oceania Regional Council has successfully completed all formalities to operate in Australia and collaborate with Pacific partners, marking a significant milestone for both the Council and the program as a whole. The Council is now focused on furthering regional development efforts now that the legal binds have been lifted due to their official incorporation by the Australian government.

On the education front, IGFA Passport to Fishing kits have been distributed to northern Queensland, Tasmania, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, with plans to expand the program to various small Pacific Islands. The Council has also recently secured funding from Shimano-Australia to specifically support the council’s efforts in the field of youth angling education throughout the region.

The Council is excited to announce that an in-person regional meeting has been scheduled for April 27, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. The IGFA is anticipating an exceptional turn out, and there is still time to RSVP if you’re interested in attending - email IGFA Global Relations Manager Andy Saldana at [email protected].

IGFA Africa Regional Council

The IGFA Africa Regional Council is actively collaborating with the South African Deep Sea Angling Association (SADSAA) and other groups to identify fishing tournaments throughout Africa that could be suitable for the IGFA to establish a formal relationship with to foster membership, exposure, and relevance in the region.
The council has also recognized the need to increase its current roster of 14 IGFA Representatives and has set an ambitious goal of raising that number to a minimum of 25 IGFA Representatives throughout the region within the next six months. The Council views this expansion as crucial for effectively realizing the council's mission and vision. Given the vast expanse of Africa and its unexplored sport fishing opportunities, it is essential to propel IGFA membership, conservation initiatives, and participation in future events. This requires the appointment of ample representatives by the Council to enhance our membership base and raise awareness. In addition, there is a recognized need to strengthen ties with the island nations in the Indian Ocean. Presently, only Mauritius has an IGFA Representative in this region, despite its rich potential for deep-sea and reef fishing.