FT. LAUDERDALE, FL- Anglers, captains and mates worldwide are the vital elements needed to provide The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) Tag and Release program the valuable data required to further billfish science and ensure that fishing opportunities are available for future generations. Without the dedication of these individuals from around the world, what is known about billfish science and the advances in conservation would not be possible today.
Since 1990, TBF has received more than 220,000 billfish tag and release records from anglers and captains around the world. Records are entered into TBF’s Tag & Release Online Database, which has gained in popularity with boat crews and anglers since its introduction in 2014. The records collected via the database will better help marine researchers gain insight into migratory patterns, growth rates, and the overall health of billfish stocks round the world.
On Feb. 11, over 30 award winners along with their family and friends came from across the globe to accept their 2015 International Tag & Release Awards at Miami’s Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom. The ceremony was sponsored by Bisbee’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Fund and the awards were presented by King Sailfish Mounts. Sailfish Brewery once again supplied amazing local craft beers. During the cocktail hour guests had the opportunity to mingle and interact with a marmoset, a baby kangaroo, and some beautiful birds. All award winners received sunglasses from TBF Conservation Partner, Costa. Top Overall winners also received a custom Fathom lure and a one-year subscription to FishTrack in addition to their trophies. Guests also had the chance to participate in the raffle, which included products from Costa, Casa Vieja Lodge, Garmin, Pelagic, Yeti, Alutecnos, Buoyweather, Fathom Offshore, Fish Track, Goslings Rum, Troll Pro, and Release Ruler. Every guest received a goody bag filled with items and information from all of our sponsors.
TBF’s Overall Tagging Angler Winner for all species (any combination of blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, sailfish and/or spearfish) was Laurent Sahyoun (Mandelieu, France). Laura Jessen (Sarasota, FL USA) took the honors as the Top Overall Lady Tagging Angler. Kaleb Richardson (Lafayette, LA USA) won the Top Overall Youth Tagging Angler. Top Overall Tagging Captain was Chris Sheeder (Guatemala City, Guatemala).
In the release division, Top Overall Release Angler went to Pat McCotter (Vandemere, NC). Taking the honors for the third year in a row, Top Overall Release Lady Angler was Tiffany Day (Kitty Hawk, NC, USA). Brown Gaddy (Manteo, NC USA) won the Top Overall Release Youth Angler and Brad Philipps (Guatemala City, Guatemala) once again kept his title as the Top Overall Release Captain.
The 2016 competition began Nov. 1, 2015 and will run through Oct. 31, 2016. TBF members from more than 70 countries are invited to participate. ‘Tag Data Reports’ and ‘Release Notifications’ can be submitted to TBF using either the traditional hard copies or reported online at www.tagbillfish.org. Separate categories currently exist for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the South Florida Sailfish and the Gulf of Mexico. This year TBF will be adding additional regional categories (Hawaii, Cape Verde, and Japan) to the competition.
To be eligible to receive an award, active TBF members must have tagged and/or released five or more of a species to qualify. In addition, TBF’s Youth Program was created in 2001 and recognizes the conservation ethics and achievements of young anglers. It includes a three fish minimum in five separate age groupings for both tag and release categories.
For more on TBF’s annual Tag & Release program or to see the full list of winners, please visit www.bilfish.org or call 954-938-0150 for Peter Chaibongsai (ext. 107), Michael Kelly (ext. 102) or Adrienne Katz (ext. 115).