Who We Are
The Billfish Foundation (TBF) was founded in 1986 with a mission of conserving billfish worldwide by the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller along with Tim Choate, Dr. Eric Prince and a group of fifty founding members. TBF’s keystone program, the traditional tagging program, was begun in 1990. Today, it has grown to be the largest international billfish tagging program in the world.
TBF’s initial focus was on research and educational programs. In 1990, TBF’s focus was expanded to include advocacy for responsible fisheries management, recognizing that influencing decision makers with sound science was a crucial step in successful billfish conservation.
The Billfish Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
The Billfish Foundation is recognized globally and has continued to distinguish itself from other fish conservation organizations through sustained emphasis on synthesizing science and policy into effective, yet reasonable, fishery management solutions- solutions that are good for the fish but not punitive to recreational anglers.
Since its inception, TBF has been central to the following:
- Advancement and improvement of stock assessments for Atlantic and Pacific billfish;
- Transition of the recreational billfish fishery to catch/tag/release;
- Management and conservation regulations that prohibit the commercial retention and sale of Atlantic billfish in the U.S.;
- Socio-economic studies to establish a value for billfish species left alive in the water;
- Scientific conference that brought scientists from around the world to focus on the role billfish serve in the ecosystem;
- Area closed to longline gear to protect crucial nursery habitat for fish and sea turtles;
- Adoption of the use of non-offset circle hooks;
- Prohibition of the commercial retention and sale of marlin in Peru;
- Agreement with Central American nations to develop a comprehensive management plan for billfish and other species that migrate throughout the eastern Pacific region;
- Advancement of stock assessment methodology science for all highly migratory fish (TBF leads the world in this research);
- Development and maintenance of the world’s largest, most comprehensive private international billfish database;
- Implementation of regulations moderating the commercial tuna and swordfish longline and purse seine vessels, which represent a major source of billfish mortality;
- Assessment of marine habitat in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that are oxygen depleted; and
- In March, 2010, TBF was empowered to develop a recreational fishing data collection system within the seven Central American countries of the Panamanian Isthmus.