Here’s a sneak peak at our all new ‘Fish Facts’ section appearing in the Nov/Dec issue of Where When How.
Panoply Sport Fishing and Charters is a locally owned and operated deep sea fishing charter company here in Provo. We are pleased to introduce our new ‘Fish Facts’ section here in Where When How which will feature articles and photos about what’s going on in the fishing community as well as information about gear, fish species, Turks and Caicos fishing, conservation and more!
For our very first installment we thought we’d share some information about Billfish Conservation as it is a cause we are very involved in. Billfish include marlin, sailfish, swordfish and spearfish and can be found throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Here in Provo we predominantly see blue marlin, white marlin, Atlantic sailfish and the elusive swordfish (we released our first one back in January!). Here we are strictly catch and release, meaning any billfish hooked are released back into the wild healthy and free to be caught again.
Our good friends at The Billfish Foundation (TBF) have a tagging program in place which helps to conserve these beautiful species. We are proud members of TBF and currently the only charter company here that tags for them. They are a not-for-profit organization located in the U.S. that has built worldwide tagging, research and educational programs. What is tagging? Well, each time we catch a billfish we insert a small tag into the fish and record its condition, size and location which we then report back to TBF with the tag number. When the fish is recaptured the new tag data is compared with our initial tag and release data so we can learn where the fish has traveled, if it is in good condition and how it has grown. Such information is vital for the conservation of the species, policy making and development of a healthy sportfishing industry!
We were lucky enough to meet Peter, science and policy director for TBF, when he came down to visit during the Caicos Classic IGFA Billfish Release Tournament back in June. This added a bit of fuel to our ‘conservation fire’ and allowed us to learn how we, as sportfishermen (and women!), are the strongest advocates for our oceans. TBF and the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) – who we are also members of – really drove this point home for us. Not only is sportfishing profitable for us as a charter company, but it is also beneficial to the economy of the Turks and Caicos. Healthy game fish stocks entice serious anglers and novice fishermen to spend millions, perhaps even billions, of dollars a year, not only on chartering boats to get them out on the water but also for travel, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, car rentals…and the list goes on. Without conservation we can expect game fish stocks to decline and, in turn, the profitability of the industry and all the related industries to go down accordingly.
One way you can help as a consumer is to stop eating billfish. Why? First of all, commercial overfishing is wiping out marlin populations, as much as a 90 percent decline in recent years. Billfish are part of the bycatch from longlining and commercial fisherman targeting tuna, swordfish and other fish. They don’t stand a chance against all those hooks and nets in the water! Secondly, it’s the old supply versus demand lesson we all learn in Economics class. Because billfish cannot be farmed like, say, catfish and tilapia, they can’t keep up with the demand. Finally, billfish like marlin and sailfish often contain high levels of mercury and other toxins that may be harmful to humans who regularly consume the fish. The moral of the story here is if we don’t take action and start protecting our billfish we risk wiping them out completely as stated by the IGFA and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation.
Joining a worthy cause like TBF or the IGFA can also help – bigtime! Membership fees and donations fund their research and programs like the Tag and Release program at TBF which are vital components of successful conservation. Ensuring you fish with companies who follow sustainable fishing practices also further the fight.
The Panoply Team.