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About the IGMR

What is it?

The IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) is a partnership between IGFA and Stanford University that pairs recreational anglers with cutting-edge science to learn more about the basic biology of marlin and how they utilize the open ocean habitat. The goal of the program is to deploy 50 pop up archival tags (PAT) in marlin at billfish tournaments around the world each year. This effort will increase understanding of distribution, population structure and biology of marlin and engage anglers and the general public in the research process. By increasing our understanding of where these animals go and how they use the pelagic ecosystem, we will provide valuable information to the resource managers and policy makers responsible for ensuring their long-term conservation.

How does it work?

The concept behind the IGMR is simple. In the days leading up to a billfish tournament, angling teams are invited to sponsor PAT tags to be placed on fish caught and released during the event. 240 days after each tag is deployed, it automatically releases itself from the fish and transmits information such as the fish’s path, depth profiles, and sea temperatures to earth-orbiting ARGOS satellites. In a given tournament, the tag that surfaces furthest from where it was initially deployed wins the race for that tournament.  Many tournaments will provide incentives such as a free tournament entry for the next year for the individual or team whose marlin travel’s the farthest. The overall winner of the IGFA Great Marlin Race – the sponsor of the marlin whose tag travels the furthest of all in a given year - will be recognized at the annual IGFA International Auction and Banquet in January.

How will the tagging data be used?

Tag sponsors, anglers and the general public will be able to view the migration routes of tagged marlin through Google Earth-enabled maps on the IGMR website where pop-up tag locations and animal tracks are displayed. In addition, all tag data will be available to scientists and fisheries managers via an open access system. The tag data generated from this program will improve our understanding of billfish migratory behaviors in several ocean basins simultaneously, and improve our understanding of the underlying oceanographic features that shape the connectivity of populations across the globe. This type of information can then be used to enact better international conservation measures for marlin around the world.

Partnership with Stanford University

Dr. Barbara Block’s team at Stanford University has been a world leader in biologging science for the last two decades. They have successfully developing two flagship programs; Tag-A- Giant (TAG), a project that has tagged more than 1,200 bluefin tuna in the Atlantic; and Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP), an international program completed under the Census of Marine Life that has recorded 4,800 tag deployments on 37 different marine species in the Pacific. The Block Lab was also instrumental in developing the original Great Marlin Race that was initiated in 2009 by Dr. Block and IGFA representative, Robert Kurz with the guidance of Peter Fithian, IGFA Trustee and Chairman of the HIBT, to commemorate the 50th year of the HIBT.

Interested in having an IGMR event at your tournament?

IGMR events require sufficient angler participation and fishing opportunities so that 10 PATs can be successfully sponsored and deployed during/around the tournament. If you are interested in having an IGMR event, click here or contact IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser at [email protected] or IGFA Conservation Coordinator Leah Baumwell at [email protected].