We are excited to share with you some of the activities we have been involved with during the first quarter of 2024. The Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation staff has been busy laying the foundation for another exciting year. We want to thank you, our sponsors and donors, for your continued support that makes our work possible.

CAPT. HARRY D. VERNON, JR MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Last week we awarded four great graduate students at the U. of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Science the 2024 Capt. Harry D. Vernon memorial Scholarships. This year students submitted very interesting research projects which included work on shark depredation in the Gulf of Mexico, blue marlin research in the Inter-American Seas, forage fish and their impact on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the impact of the 2023 high water temperatures in Florida Bay. All of these students plan on continuing their research after graduation and most of them plan on teaching as well. We are so proud to be able to financially assist such dedicated students whose research will contribute to wise marine management of our marine resources..

ADOPT-A-BILLFISH MOROCCO PSAT UPDATE: We have exciting news from our NOAA tagging scientists! Out of the 13 tags all but 5 have been accounted for. The tags still at large are scheduled to pop up in April. Two tags popped up on schedule this month and are transmitting data to be analyzed. One tag was recovered in Morocco and it hopefully will contain valuable data. Results of this project will be presented at the 7th International Billfish Symposium to be held October 8-10 in San Diego.

PRESIDENTIAL FLAMINGO FISHING RODEO PRESENTED BY MARINA FLAMINGO; Plans are well underway and ads are running for the 9th Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo. We already have four boats entered! Marina Flamingo is looking great and the rooftop swimming pool and lounge area offers a great, relaxing view of Flamingo Bay. Dry Storage is complete and most shops are occupied. We are excited to announce that all Tournament activities will be held at Marina Flamingo this year. The Welcome Party will take place in the Grand Lobby and the Awards and Auction will be held in the Marina Flamingo Plaza. Afternoon scorecard collection and video review will be in the airconditioned Kingfisher Room. This promises to be another fun filled fishing event.

COSTA RICA CONSERVATION: Early this year visiting anglers complained that the fish they were taking home was confiscated and destroyed at the airport in San Jose. Thanks to our representative on the CR Sport Fishing Committee an investigation began and it was discovered that this was an illegal act being encouraged by radicals similar to PETA. You are allowed to take some of the fish you catch on your visit home if it is frozen and properly packed. We continue to fight for the rights and laws that pertain to the sportfishing tourist industry in Costa Rica.

All of this is made possible by your generous support of the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Thank you!


For over 25 years, the Presidential Challenge Conservation Series has been dedicated to the initiatives of game fish conservation as well as promoting sport-fishing eco-tourism as a sustainable business around the world. Here are just a few recent highlights of our efforts.

Four University of Miami students have been awarded the 2023 Capt. Harry D. Vernon, Jr. Memorial Scholarship while working toward advanced degrees at the prestigious Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Sciences. In order to qualify, applicants must be studying pelagic marine animals or environmental and economic studies relating to pelagic species. Capt. Harry Vernon was the founder of Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami, Florida, and an avid recreational angler. He fished around the world and was very active in promoting sport fishing and conservation. These scholarships are made possible by the work of the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, which raises funds through a series of tournaments known as the Presidential Challenge Conservation Series.

Work also continues on the Adopt-a-Billfish satellite tagging initiative. First begun in the early 2000’s in Central America, Adopt-a-Billfish takes a science-based approach to satellite tagging of billfish in order to further our knowledge of the various species. Recent projects have focused on white marlin in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. These enigmatic billfish inhabit vast swaths of the world’s seas and yet very little is actually known about their migratory patterns and spawning areas. In 2022, I visited the North African nation of Morocco and fell in love with the nation, its people and the fishing there. I was able to return in 2023 with NOAA marine biologists Derke Snodgrass and Eric Orbeson, where we successfully tagged 13 very healthy white marlin with PSAT tags—check out the recap of this expedition in this issue. The information gained during this expedition will be shared during the seventh annual International Billfish Symposium in 2024.

Abriendo Mentes, which is Spanish for ‘Opening Minds,’ was established in 2009 by founders Meradith Leebrick and Drew Ragland. Since its founding, the organization has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, with highlights including the addition of adult education programming, the donation of a computer lab leading to the establishment of a technology program, the creation of a women’s economic empowerment programs, the development of an international volunteer structure, and a formal program expansion to the neighboring community of Brasilito. The Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation continues its financial support of this organization each year following the Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo.

The Presidential Challenge is also continuing our watchdog efforts with the Costa Rica Sportfishing Commission to ensure a bright future for recreational fishing within that Central American nation, which has been under siege recently from a variety of different aspects.

Our signature event, highly popular Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo, carries on the traditions of fun, family angling competition in a low-stress environment; since its inception, it’s become the largest summer tournament in the seaside community of Flamingo in northern Costa Rica. As the development of the Marina Flamingo project continues to move forward, the marina has become the center of activity for this quaint beachside community. The low entry fees, multiple species to fish for and minimal rules make the Flamingo Fishing Rodeo a real winner for everyone.

We once again produced the Presidential Womens World Virtual Fishing Tournament. This Tournament is open to women around the world who fish for billfish. In cooperation with CaptApp we allow 12 days of fishing from February 1-March 31st with prescribed fishing hours. The virtual format means teams can fish at home or in any other destination around the world, and the CaptApp application verifies all the catches with reviewable video, which works very well. Proceeds from the event will benefit several worthy charitable and conservation-based organizations. We’re already planning for a bigger and better event in 2024.

We also need to thank our sponsors and donors, many of whom have supported the Presidential Challenge for decades. Without your support, none of this work would be possible. The same goes for our anglers, volunteers, observers, scientists and all the others who have worked tirelessly to ensure a bright future for billfish species around the world.


We are happy to share with you, our valued sponsors and contributors, how we at the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation spent the third quarter of 2023.

TOURNAMENTS: July was a busy month for the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation. Planning for the Flamingo Fishing Rodeo was in high gear. Entries were coming in daily and a week before the Tournament starting date we had to close them as our maximum number of teams was reached! By the final registration we had 33 boats with 156 anglers signed up to fish. Our volunteer staff was very busy making preparations to welcome the participants. We commend Marina Flamingo, our presenting sponsor, and our other local sponsors for going all out to make the Rodeo a huge success this year. We had quite a few families fish and a record number of lady anglers participate. Dates for next year have been set, August 3-4, 2024. Planning for next year has already begun. NOTE: We have already received our first 2024 entry!!!
ADOPT-A-BILLFISH SATELLITE TAGGING PROJECT: The Morocco PSAT trip was a huge success! Our group of anglers consisted of tag benefactor Kim Hermanowski, sponsor Bill Pino (Squidnation), Fernando Duarte and myself. We were accompanied by two NOAA fishery biologists, Eric Orbesen and Derke Snodgrass. Fishing aboard Laurent Sahyoun's El Matador with Capt. Marco Canu the group was able to tag 13 white marlin with satellite tags set to pop up in 210 days. A big thank you to those involved! We are all looking forward to some cutting edge results.
COSTA RICA SPORTFISHING COMMISSION: The Commission is still fighting the battle of the very controversial law – Articles 67-68- which forbid sport fishers to bring pelagic species such as dolphin fish, wahoo & tuna to the dock. It has been in place for many years but nobody pays attention to it. That is why in the Flamingo Fishing Rodeo we require anglers to measure the fish on board at sea instead of bringing them in to weigh. The commercial fishing industry has gotten wind of this and if the law isn’t changed many tournaments in Costa Rica including the big Offshore World Championship will not be able to include weight fish in their future events. This week things heated up again and hopefully by involving the Costa Rica Tourism Officials something will be resolved sooner than later. This fight has loomed over the industry for way too long.

The work is never ending and without you, our sponsors and contributors, we could not accomplish our goals. A glimpse into the future sees the 2024 Presidential Women’s World Fishing Challenge in early 2024 as well as the awarding of the Capt. Harry D. Vernon, Jr. Scholarship. Thank you all for your continued support.


It hardly seems possible that 2023 is halfway over! This year has been busy for our Foundation and Tournaments. Below is an update on our activities:

TOURNAMENTS: The 2nd Presidential Women’s World Virtual Fishing Challenge powered by CaptApp was won by a team from Mexico fishing in Costa Rica. The final week we had two teams fishing in Guatemala and one team in Costa Rica. It was an exciting finish as fishing was red hot in both venues.

The second quarter of this year was primarily focused on the organization and production of the Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo presented by Marina Flamingo. We only have a few weeks to kick off on July 28th. I’m excited to tell you that this event is already sold out! We have 27 teams signed up which includes several families and junior anglers. The highlight of this event is the Conservation Auction which benefits the local women’s group, Abriendo Mentes, and Costa Rica conservation. This year we have a wonderful selection of fishing items, art, jewelry and a few nice fishing trips.

Adopt-A-Billfish Satellite Tagging Program: The Foundation together with two scientists from NOAA are now confirmed to conduct the privately funded satellite tagging off the coast of Mohammedia, Morocco. White marlin is the target species and hopefully 10 will swim away with satellite tags as new jewelry. At the same time a tagging trip is planned out of a port in the Mid-Atlantic so migratory and biological data can be compared. This trip will solve a mystery of where these animals go once they pass Morocco heading to the desolate western coast of Africa.

Costa Rica Sport Fishing Commission: The Foundation continues to have a seat on the Costa Rica Sport Fishing Commission. This important conservation organization acts as a watchdog for conservation issues of concern to Costa Rica sport fishing. This year has been very busy as there are several issues of threat to the local industry. Working with the Pacific Sport Fishing organization out of Los Suenos, the timeline for vessels to have mandatory VMS on their boats has been extended. This will give authorities more time to refine the law as to size and use of boats that must have this system. Today, July 6th, our representative has a meeting with the Minister of Fisheries to discuss a very controversial law – Articles 67-68- which forbid sport fishers to bring pelagic species such as dolphin fish, wahoo & tuna to the dock. It has been in place for many years but nobody pays attention to it. That is why in the Flamingo Fishing Rodeo we require anglers to measure the fish on board at sea instead of bringing them in to weigh. The commercial fishing industry has gotten wind of this and if the law isn’t changed many tournaments in Costa Rica including the big Offshore World Championship will not be able to include weight fish in their future events. Hopefully the meeting today will be a major step in eliminating this regulation.

This is an ambitious undertaking and one that can be done thanks to your support. We thank each and every one of you for your contribution to one or more of our projects. Keeping you informed is important to us and we welcome any questions you may have regarding our efforts.

The Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, Inc. has presented to the National Sport Fishing Commission members the issue requesting the Board of Directors of Incopesca to include the roosterfish (rooster) into the catch and release category.
The following proposal presented on behalf of Presidential Challenge to be approved by the Board of Directors is a fundamental step in the conservation of this magnificent species for its sustainable use, which is fundamental and will help enormously to attract more tourists to fish in Costa Rica.

Considerations for the Request to Incorporate The Roosterfish
to the List of Capture and Release Species

The Roosterfish or Rooster as it is known in Costa Rica is a species that belongs to the Nematistiidae family and its scientific name is Nematistius pectoralis. Its distribution is only in the Eastern Pacific and ranges from San Clemente in Southern California to Peru including the Galapagos Islands. Not normally common in waters north of Baja California Sur Mexico.
The maximum reported length is 163 cm. and the highest reported weight is 51.7 kg Its average size is around 60 cm.
This species lives in coastal areas, preferring sandy bottoms and shallow waters.
It is a species of very little value for commercial fishing because it is not so for sport and tourist fishing. The fishing of this magnificent fish attracts many national and foreign tourists to our coasts since the Rooster is characterized by biting the artificial lure or the natural bait at dizzying speed and fighting very hard once hooked. These characteristics added to the beauty of this species with its characteristic crest-shaped dorsal fin makes it extremely valuable in sport and tourist fishing.
Many fishermen capture and release them voluntarily after the fight, but others do not.
There is a general feeling in the sport and tourist fishing industry that this species should be considered mandatory catch and release. The National Commission for Sports and Tourism Fishing (CNPDT) has unanimously considered it pertinent for a long time to do the above and thus stated it in the modification to the Regulations to the Fishing Law that has not been published for a long time as Executive Order. As it is not known when the above will happen and to prevent many of these fish from continuing to die unnecessarily, the CNPDT requests the Board of Directors of INCOPESCA, in the most respectful and attentive manner, to include the Rooster as a capture and release species.
If the above is accepted by agreement of the Board of Directors, we would be helping to make a very sustainable use of the species and the disclosure of the above as an important conservation measure would be of great pleasure to international and national sport fishermen who would favor tour operators of the Costa Rican Pacific, as fishing of the species would be promoted more, generating more jobs and earning more foreign currency, both of which are of great importance in these times of economic crisis.
The CNPDT undertakes to disclose this important measure as soon as it is approved for the benefit of Costa Rica and above all for the benefit of the coastal areas in this case of the Costa Rican Pacific that are very socially and economically depressed.

25TH new

Presidential Challenge Celebrates 25 Years of Conservation

With two and a half decades under its collective belt, the Presidential Challenge Conservation Series, in association with the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, has achieved an incredible number of milestones in sport fishing.

Upon its founding in 1997, the Presidential Challenge received the prestigious Group Conservation Award from The Billfish Foundation, an organization with which the PCCA would work closely. That same year, PCCA founders and committee members were instrumental in having the nation of Panama sign a Billfish Protection Law. In Guatemala, committee members successfully lobbied the government to enact a Sailfish Protection Law. Follow up meetings led to the establishment of the first Sport Fishing Economic Conference in Panama City, Panama, in September 1998, which laid the foundation by uniting Central American nations to protect their collective sport-fishing interests.

During this time, circle hooks first appeared on the radar, thanks to the efforts of Capt. Ron Hamlin and many others. In 1999, the Presidential Challenge of Costa Rica became the first tournament in the world to require the use of circle hooks. Legions of anglers from around the world were introduced to this new style of hook, which greatly reduced gut-hooking of billfish, while crews learned new rigging techniques. Circle hooks proved to be a game-changer.

The tournament series continued to support local conservation efforts throughout Central America. Based on those efforts, PCCA founder Joan Vernon was presented the American Sportfishing Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Work continued on promoting circle hooks, as the group assisted with the production of a Spanish translation of a Ron Hamlin instructional rigging video to be distributed throughout the region.

In 2002, a major step forward occurred when PCCA partnered with the University of Miami’s Center for Sustainable Fisheries to found the Adopt-A-Billfish Satellite Tagging Program in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Proceeds from PCCA events went to offset program expenses through 2006, when the organization conducted satellite tagging in East Cape, Mexico. During this time, significant contributions were made to TBF to assist their conservation efforts as well, and in 2007 Vernon was named a Hero of Conservation by Field & Stream magazine in recognition of her efforts.

Another significant milestone occurred in 2008 when the Presidential Challenge of Central America became a 501 (c)3 charitable organization. Over the next few years, more than $75,000 was donated to TBF and the IGFA for conservation work. In 2010/2011, the PCCA served as a fundraiser for Phase II of the Adopt-A-Billfish program, with simultaneous satellite tagging programs taking place in the southern Caribbean and US East Coasts. The program was eventually completed in 2012, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Eric Prince and John Houlihan.

In 2012, the organization shifted its focus to Africa, providing funding for the African Billfish Foundation while also working with Eagle Claw to promote the use of circle hooks in the fishery off Kenya, among other destinations. These efforts ramped up in 2013 and continue today.

The latter part of the decade saw a shift in the way anglers participating in international tournaments, and in order to keep up with the times the Presidential Challenge began a subtle shift in its events. The first was the founding of the Presidential Flamingo Fishing Rodeo in Flamingo, Costa Rica. This event was designed as an alternative to the current crop of big-money, high-stress tournaments, with a focus on family fun. The multi-species format and minimal rules encouraged participation by a renewed sector of the angling community, both in Costa Rica and internationally, and it also highlighted the excellent summer fishing available in Flamingo. The recent grand opening of Marina Flamingo will serve to fuel additional opportunities for growth in the region as well.

Another shift was in the rise of virtual fishing tournaments, especially during the COVID pandemic. By using the innovative CaptApp application, participating teams can fish from any Central American port, videoing their releases and measuring any gamefish they intend to keep for scoring purposes. It’s proved to be a very popular format that continues to grow with each passing year and included the start of the Women’s World Virtual Fishing Challenge.

In 2000, the Foundation awarded the first Capt. Harry D. Vernon Memorial scholarships. Since then, more than $27,000 in scholarships have been awarded including 11 in 2022 alone. These are presented on behalf of the PCCA to graduate students attending the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Key Biscayne, Florida, to further studies of the marine environment.

As of mid-2022, the Presidential Challenge events have collectively tallied an astounding 12,695 billfish releases throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and elsewhere. Funding continues for important conservation efforts in Africa and elsewhere. Family-friendly tournaments and virtual formats continue to grow in popularity as well. The tireless efforts of the staff are ongoing, and the support of the worldwide angling community is always greatly appreciated.



Photo:  Marlin tagged off Watamu, Kenya, by Capt. Peter Darnborough on his boat Alleycat.



By Sam White

During my first visit to the Indian Ocean more than five years ago, I was struck by not only the size of the region but the pristine nature of these beautiful waters. I had the opportunity to fish in several islands of the Seychelles, located roughly 500 miles east of the African mainland and the nation of Kenya, itself a hotspot for all species of billfish, from blue and black marlin to sailfish, swordfish and even the rare spearfish. In the Seychelles, I was surprised to learn that the marlin fishery is split nearly equally from blue marlin to black marlin, with plentiful opportunities for sailfish in the shallower waters closer to the reefs and drop-offs that surround the islands. It’s an amazing destination.


But what do we really know about billfish in the Indian Ocean? As it seems, not much, and for a variety of reasons. First is a notable lack of recreational fishing presence. Even in well-known sport-fishing destinations such as Kenya, there are just a handful of boats; throughout the western Indian Ocean I’d offer that there are fewer offshore charter operations than in my home state of North Carolina. Second is the lack of a coordinated tagging program. For several years the African Billfish Foundation had success in this area, but unfortunately its status is now inactive from a lack of funding.


In order to overcome that second obstacle, the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation has purchased 300 spaghetti tags from The Billfish Foundation, which operates the world’s largest private billfish tagging study. These have now made their way from the US to Kenya and will be in the hands of experienced billfish captains on four different charter vessels, just in time for the upcoming season.


“With everyone now using TBF tags, data can be collected from that area off Kenya and the information added to what the organization is already gathering from the Seychelles and other areas in the Indian Ocean,” says PCCA coordinator Joan Vernon. “This tagging project could turn out to be the missing link in billfish research in the entire western Indian Ocean. We are especially excited since the season is just getting started over there.” She says the primary tagging targets will be marlin—blues and blacks—followed by sailfish. “Our hope is that we’re able to gain some understanding of the migratory patterns of the billfish in these waters,” Vernon says. For more information, visit preschallenge.com.


good release 2

Removing Billfish from the Water: Don’t Do It!

Anglers love hero shots with their fish, especially if it’s their first one. Of all the billfish species, sailfish lend themselves particularly well to this type of photo, since they’re usually small enough to lift up, have particularly gorgeous colors and that massive sail to hold out like a giant flag.

But don’t do it! Removing any billfish species from the water, even for a few moments for a photo, is illegal, both in Costa Rica and the United States. Studies have shown that by scraping the fish over the gunwale of the boat, we are actually harming internal organs and removing the fish’s protective slime layer that acts as a barrier coat against harmful diseases, parasites and infections. Even though you intend to release the fish, by removing it from the water you may have just signed its death warrant instead.

Here are a few things you can do to still get a great photo of your catch. First, be ready with the camera. Few things are more frustrating for your captain or mate than having the fish ready at boatside while someone fumbles for a camera deep inside a duffle bag or backpack. Be ready! Take a few shots during the fight, with the angler grinning from ear to ear.

Once the fish is ready for release and the leader has been cut, the angler can don a pair of gloves, lean over the side and hold the fish by the bill and the sail as it’s revived alongside the boat. The cameraperson should lean out over the side and shoot back toward the angler and the fish. After a few moments, the fish is ready for a healthy release.

Another option: the extended selfie stick and GoPro. Many crews are now using this setup to shoot wide-angle shots back at the boat and anglers. It’s simply a GoPro set on camera mode to shoot every second or so after the shutter is activated. It’s mounted to a long pole that’s held out away from the boat, and the images it reveals are usually very memorable.

Video is a third way to remember the fight. Using that same GoPro, mount it to either a fixed mount on the boat or just hold it in your hand to capture a full video of the fight and the release. All smartphones have a video capability these days as well.

So really, the need to remove a marlin or sailfish from the water just isn’t there. Be smart, keep them in the water where they belong.

2021 Conservation Work Begins with Awarding the Capt. Harry D. Vernon Memorial Scholarships

Recently we awarded three Capt. Harry Scholarships to Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospehric Scienc graduate Students on behalf of my Foundation and the GMBT, Inc.
1. $1000 - Alejandro Jivanjee - Studying blue marlin larvae and growth from samples taken from marlin caught off the coast of Cuba. This is interesting and vital research as most similar studies have been conducted in the Southern Bahamas for blue marlin.
2.$500.- Cole Carrano - Research involves climate change and how it is changing the habitat and ecosystems of pelagic species, primarily swordfish.  This research is critical as we face NOAA's attempt to open closed areas for commercial swordfishing. Data collected in this research will prove valuable for future fishery managers.
3. $500 - Chelsea Black - She is working with a project called BioTrack which involves technological advances in documenting movements and behaviors of large marine predators. This research involves several species of marine mammals as well as sea turtles, sea birds, sharks and billfish. The results of the work from this project will be made available in an interactive portal available to the public through the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network and Animal Tracking Network.
Funding for these scholarships comes from donations and sponsors of the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation. Thank you all who have contributed over the last year.


2020 Conservation Work Put On Hold


     Due to the COVID 19 pandemic most of our conservation work has been halted. Some of our projects have been halted due to major cutbacks in scientific research by the Federal Government.  Costa Rica is under strict stay in place orders which has led to marinas having to close.  Our representative on the Costa Rica Sportfishing Commission is still active with his vital work of overseeing abuse of billfish conservation regulations in that Country. He and members of the Commission are pushing for strict and enforced monitoring of the marketing of sailfish which is considered a bycatch.  





World-Class Marina Begins Construction in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
A new, world-class marina village and resort has started construction in Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This will include 175 wet slips for yachts up to 125’, luxury residential villas and retail. Marina Flamingo is being developed by Saginaw, Michigan based Shaheen Development and Marina Flamingo Development Group, SRL. Milwaukee, Wisconsin based F3 Marina will manage the marina portion of the project
Located in one of the best sport fishing regions of the world, Marina Flamingo will include amenities such as restaurants and shopping, high-speed fuel station, pump-out, customs office, 100-amp electrical service, state of the art floating dockage, VIP services, storage and parking. An upscale hotel and conference center and additional development will be included in subsequent phases. The Costa Rican Coast Guard will also share space in the marina bordered by newly formed armor rock creating a calm and well-protected basin.
“Marina Flamingo is becoming a reality as the result of a collaboration with local governmental and private stakeholders. This project will set the standard for delivering a world-class experience for boaters while preserving the environment through sustainable development.” Says Samuel Shaheen President, Marina Flamingo Development Group.
More and more super-yachts are migrating to the Pacific Coast of Central America as an alternative to traditional cruising grounds. With its location outside of the hurricane belt and in the safest Latin American country, the pristine waters and natural beauty of Costa Rica allow Marina Flamingo to draw larger vessels from Central America, the United States and Caribbean. Additionally, the waters off the Costa Rican Coast are considered one of the best fishing regions in the world for marlin, tuna, mahi mahi, sailfish and others that will draw sportfishing vessels along with a charter boat fleets to the marina. Playa Flamingo also hosts the popular Presidential Challenge International Sailfish Tournament annually. Near national parks, championship golfing, ATV, horseback riding, hiking and other activities, Playa Flamingo provides yacht owners and guests plenty of options to enjoy the area.
“Marina Flamingo has all the ingredients and amenities to meet the needs of the most demanding international yacht owners. They will enjoy first class service, the latest in quality floating piers, high-speed fuel, shopping, and restaurants, while surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Costa Rican Gold Coast.” Says John Matheson with F3 Marina. “We will be able to perform haul-outs for service, storage, ships store and VIP Club along with the Marina Village making this a true destination marina.”
“From the moment we arrived in Playa Flamingo, we knew then that we would be joining an extraordinary journey. F3 Marina is privileged to be trusted with the management of Marina Flamingo, and we look forward to welcome all boaters to experience a state of the art facility , with an exceptional array of amenities to satisfy all expectations.” says Alain Giudice, Senior Vice President, F3 Marina.
The Marina Flamingo development is the result of collaboration with the central government of Costa Rica, municipal Government of Santa Cruz, the Costa Rican Coast Guard, The United States Department of State, the US Ambassador to Costa Rica and the local Flamingo Association, Asociacion Pro Mejoras de Playa Flamingo.
The construction for Phase I including the 134 slips of the marina, is expected to conclude in the fall of 2021 with a total project completion in 2023.
F3 Marina is a leading manager of marinas all over the US and Central America, focusing on delivery of an exceptional experience for yacht owners and visitors.
Additional information is available on the official website at: VisitMarinaFlamingo.com


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Due to the COVID 19 pandemic most of our conservation work has been halted. Some of our projects have been halted due to major cutbacks in scientific research by the Federal Government. Costa Rica is under strict stay in place orders which has led to marinas having to close. Our representative on the Costa Rica Sportfishing Commission is still active with his vital work of overseeing abuse of billfish conservation regulations in that Country. He and members of the Commission are pushing for strict and enforced monitoring of the marketing of sailfish which is considered a bycatch. He recently reported that due to the efforts of the Commission sport fishing will not be included in the new VMS regulations for commercial boats.

Removing Billfish from the Water: Don’t Do It!

Anglers love hero shots with their fish, especially if it’s their first one. Of all the billfish species, sailfish lend themselves particularly well to this type of photo, since they’re usually small enough to lift up, have particularly gorgeous colors and that massive sail to hold out like a giant flag.

But don’t do it! Removing any billfish species from the water, even for a few moments for a photo, is illegal, both in Costa Rica and the United States. Studies have shown that by scraping the fish over the gunwale of the boat, we are actually harming internal organs and removing the fish’s protective slime layer that acts as a barrier coat against harmful diseases, parasites and infections. Even though you intend to release the fish, by removing it from the water you may have just signed its death warrant instead.

Here are a few things you can do to still get a great photo of your catch. First, be ready with the camera. Few things are more frustrating for your captain or mate than having the fish ready at boatside while someone fumbles for a camera deep inside a duffle bag or backpack. Be ready! Take a few shots during the fight, with the angler grinning from ear to ear.

Once the fish is ready for release and the leader has been cut, the angler can don a pair of gloves, lean over the side and hold the fish by the bill and the sail as it’s revived alongside the boat. The cameraperson should lean out over the side and shoot back toward the angler and the fish. After a few moments, the fish is ready for a healthy release.

Another option: the extended selfie stick and GoPro. Many crews are now using this setup to shoot wide-angle shots back at the boat and anglers. It’s simply a GoPro set on camera mode to shoot every second or so after the shutter is activated. It’s mounted to a long pole that’s held out away from the boat, and the images it reveals are usually very memorable.

Video is a third way to remember the fight. Using that same GoPro, mount it to either a fixed mount on the boat or just hold it in your hand to capture a full video of the fight and the release. All smartphones have a video capability these days as well.

So really, the need to remove a marlin or sailfish from the water just isn’t there. Be smart, keep them in the water where they belong.

Update on Billfish Work in Kenya and the Western Indian Ocean Region

In the last couple months, the African Billfish Foundation (ABF) continuously collaborated with diverse stakeholders to expand billfish work in the Western Indian Ocean through the Billfish Interactions, Livelihoods, and Linkages for Fisheries Sustainability in the Western Indian Ocean" (BILLFISH-WIO) project www.billfishwio.com .

The 3-year BILLFISH-WIO project funded by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and brings together diverse collaborators from several countries including Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, and South Africa. BILLFISH-WIO aims to (i) update billfish catch records through evaluating historical and present catches; (ii) examine the genetic structure of billfish species; (iii) develop a comprehensive understanding of the social economic importance of billfish species, and (iv) evaluate the spatial and temporal distribution of billfish species in the Western Indian Ocean.

To develop the capacity for knowledge and expertise in the region, the BILLFISH-WIO initiative supports 9 graduate students (2 Ph.Ds, 5 masters and 2 undergraduate students) from across the region to answer various questions regarding billfish species.

Since December 2019, we've been working with partners to streamline our data collection strategy and enhance data reporting from various fishing sectors. One of the major achievements in the last few months is being able to work with our collaborators in Somalia to obtain data. For the first time, we have over 90 black marlin reported from artisanal fisheries!

For more information about the ongoing work, please follow us on twitter @billfishwio.

Restore America's Estuaries

Enlightens us on Single Use Plastic Abuse

When you think of plastic, you may be picturing everything from your child’s toy truck to your grocery bags. Plastic consumption has dramatically increased in recent decades; in fact, the production of plastic in the past six decades has outpaced any other manufactured material, nearly doubling in the past twenty years. Plastic is woven into our synthetic clothing, floating in the ocean as microplastics, and of course, holding your morning iced coffee.

How did it begin?

Although we are all familiar with plastic products, do you know how it’s made? We have to go back more than a century to the creation of Bakelite. This 1907 invention was the “birth of modern plastics” – it was the first synthetic polymer derived entirely from fossil fuels. Jump to post World War II, large-scale production of plastic began, expanding beyond the military for the first time. Petrochemical companies established to feed the war effort, turned their attention to the consumer market, creating plastic products like Tupperware and soda bottles.

This revolutionary invention was created from petroleum byproducts, producing a material with an atomic structure that allows it to be strong, lightweight, and flexible – the ideal material for crafting unique shapes, colors, and sizes.

“In product after product, market after market, plastics challenged traditional materials and won, taking the place of steel in cars, paper and glass in packaging, and wood in furniture,” says journalist Susan Freinkel.

Plastics Today

Today, plastics have seized our markets and become a staple part of every day life. Nearly 99% of plastic is produced from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels, but the majority of plastics are not biodegradable, meaning our reliance on single-use products has led to a dramatic increase in society’s waste generation.

The largest consumers of plastics are countries with advanced economies, measuring nearly 20 times more plastic usage than developing countries such as India. And although efforts to curb plastic use are underway in places like Europe, this gap in consumption will vastly outweigh these efforts if this trending growth continues.

This gap will easily be filled by plastic producers who view this as an opportunity to increase production capacity. An estimated $50 billion will be invested in United States production facilities alone, tripling the amount of plastic exports to these developing regions. With the boom of natural gas within the US, plastic production has become cheaper and more cost effective than ever to produce.

As society turns away from fossil fuels and looks toward renewable energy sources, fossil fuel companies are also shifting focus to plastics. Many petroleum companies now produce the gas for your car and the plastic in your water bottle.

What Can We Do

Plastic pollution is a worldwide problem – it’s affecting our waterways and poisoning habitats. But a global problem, demands a global solution. We must mobilize key actors, institutions, and citizens to bring about change.

So what can you do? Start by limiting your usage of single-use plastics! Bring a reusable coffee cup to pick up your morning drink, purchase reusable mesh produce bags for the grocery store, and make sure to properly recycle any plastic you do consume. Small steps can make a big difference. Once you’ve added these changes into your daily routine, you can begin educating others, reaching out to local elected officials – the role you have to play is limitless!

What Follows You When Fishing Outside the U.S.

Might Bite You Upon Return

(Courtesy of The Billfish Foundation)


Traveling beyond U.S. and international waters into waters of other nations may give you a sense of being unburdened by fishing regulations. After all, you are not fishing in the U.S., so they don’t apply, right?

Wrong! If the vessel you are fishing on has a U.S. federal HMS Angling Permit, compliance to U.S. federal law and regulations follows you and the boat. If the hosting nation has no billfish regulations or only very limited ones, that makes no difference; you are still constrained by regulations attached to the permit. The arm of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is long with highly migratory species (HMS), which are under international management, as well as national management. The U.S. is obligated via annual treaty negotiations to regulate and manage the landing of fish in accordance with agreed-upon requirements.

Sportfishing vessels with federal permits, whose team members are fishing for HMS, are restricted to landing no more than 250 Atlantic marlin (blue and white combined) each year, according to the agreed upon negotiated limits by the U.S. If the water 250 Atlantic marlin limit is exceeded, all billfishing in U.S. waters, whether in a tournament or not, will be required to follow an all release format. If the number significantly exceeds the annual limit, the all-release format could be extended for more than 12 months. Possible repercussions to each team member, who lands or is responsible for landing an Atlantic marlin, say in the Bahamas or elsewhere, that counts against the 250 limit, could be painful. If you think there is no way the NMFS will know what you land or help land Atlantic marlin outside U.S. waters, well, think again. With technology and social media, it is often surprising how much information is shared and posted about fishing exploits each day; one day’s postings may be determined by HMS to be a daily norm of landed fish.

The U.S. NMFS made recent and significant investments by adding more staff to review websites, Facebook posts and tournament news to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of regulations, including the Atlantic marlin landing limit numbers. With a public posting of landed Atlantic marlin numbers being more than double the U.S. limit in 2017, it has become a hot topic of review.

Boat owners: if you desire to fish “big money” tournaments in U.S. waters, now is the time to make very clear with your team that landing Atlantic marlin or handing a hooked one off to a local may eliminate your opportunity to win a large tournament purse for the biggest marlin when back in the U.S. Just having fun and disregarding the seriousness of U.S. regulations when fishing outside the U.S. could be very costly.

The best insurance for retaining the opportunity to win large tournament purses in the U.S. for landing the largest Atlantic marlin is to catch, resuscitate and release each when fishing in other nations’ waters. The U.S. requires all U.S. tournaments with billfish categories to report landed fish; you can bet cross-checking the reported numbers to postings is a norm. Protect your option to win the big purse at home by helping to keep the number of Atlantic marlin landed to a minimum.


Presidential Challenge Central American Conservation Fund

Illegal fishing, longlining, purse seining--billfish stocks are under seige from all sides. We need to do more.

In an effort to continue our highly successful conservation work in Central America, primarily in Costa Rica, the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation has designated a fund for contributions to assist us in this effort. We will continue our work through The Billfish Foundation to protect the sport fishing industry throughout Central America. We intend to ensure that our voices are heard by having representatives speak on behalf of TBF and PCCA in the vitally important fisheries management meetings where the laws are made. We will also work to help fund the enforcement of the existing laws that are already in place to protect marlin and sailfish.

Contributions to this Fund are tax deductible and will only be used for conservation work in Central America. Please contact Joan Vernon for details on how to make your contribution to this Fund by emailing joan@preschallenge.com or calling 305-904-4678.

The Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, Inc. is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free (800-435-7352) within the state or on line at www.floridaconsumerhelp.com. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state." CH # 24910




AMOUNT CONTRIBUTED: ______________________________


Or Donate by Credit Card:

This contribution will be designated for use in Central America only.

________________________________ __________________



Costa's Kick Plastic Campaign

For the second year, Costa's Kick Plastic campaign opened the show at ICAST 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Where a blue marlin graced the show's entrance in 2015, this time it was a stunning mako shark that was crafted entirely of plastic debris from the beaches of America. By looking closely, it's possible to see the items used, everything from kid's beach pails to old toothbrushes, bottle caps and much more. "Finn" the mako was created in partnership with SeaWorld Orlando to commemorate their new attraction, the Mako roller coaster. SeaWorld has committed to eliminating plastic bags in the gift shops of its 12 parks. This will mean 4 million fewer plastic bags reaching landfills and ultimately, the oceans and seas of the world.

Plastics are especially problematic for the world's oceans as they break down so slowly. Even at their tiniest levels, plastics remain in the ecosystem for generations, and it's only getting worse. Costa is spearheading this effort with their Kick Plastic campaign, where they bring not just awareness but specific ways to help Americans reduce our reliance on plastics.

Here are a few things you can do to help Kick Plastic:

  • Participate in International Cleanup Day. In 2015, 800,000 volunteers collected more than 18 million pounds of trash. Learn more here.
  • Stop using plastic bottles. A reusable bottle is better for the environment, more cost efficient and keeps your drink cold much longer.
  • Say goodbye to grocery bags. Plastic grocery bag (even produce bags) can be replaced with reusable ones.
  • Buy in bulk. It makes a big impact. Sometimes we don't notice the amount of packaging that comes with each product, but it adds up fast.
  • Change your fishing line routinely to keep old line out of the ocean. To learn more about monofilament recycling, visit BoatUS.org. Most tackle retailers also offer recycling stations for old monofilament and braided lines.

For more information visit www.costadelmar.com


While adopting these rules changes, the IGFA Board ofTrustees also saw the unique and beneficial opportunity to create arecommendation for best practices for safe and ethical release of fish:

  • Circle hooks are encouraged when fishing with live or dead natural bait.
  • The hook should be removed if possible and willnot cause additional harm to angler or fish.
  • If the hook cannot be removed, the leader shouldbe cut as close to hook as possible.
  • Mates should refrain from manually breaking or“popping” leaders because this can cause additional harm

to fish, especially those not hooked in the jaw.

  • Ample time should be taken to revive exhausted fish by gently moving them forward in the water to get water flowing over the gills.
  • Knotless, rubber coated nets should be used on fish that are netted.


When it comes to fisheries management and conservation, recreational interests have long been at odds with the commercial side, due in no small part to the lack of specific dollar amounts: everyone knows that sportfishing is economically important, but no one has been able to pinpoint just how big that number may be.

Until now, that is. The Billfish Foundation recently released its preliminary results on the economic impacts of sportfishing in Costa Rica as the result of a socio-economic study conducted there. And quite honestly, the numbers are staggering.

Perhaps the one that stands out the most is the amount of U.S. Dollars spent by North American tourists to fish in these waters—Americans spent a whopping $321.5 million in 2009 alone, with Canadians adding another $7.6 million, for a total of $329.1 million. Sportfishing adds some $599 million to the country's Gross Domestic Product and increases consumption of products and services by 5.8 percent. The study even details expenditures all the way through the economy, from charter trips to ice, bait and fuel sales.

This information is of vital importance when discussing the impact and importance of sportfishing in Costa Rica, as now there is sufficient scientific information on the value of recreational fishing to battle the real threats to the area's marlin and sailfish populations.

For more information on this study, please visit The Billfish Foundation's informative website at www.billfish.org.







This past summer, with the help of writer Gary Graham, the groups named above produced a card which charter captains can hand out to their clients explaining why we practice catch and release with billfish. These cards are very handy in countries where crews speak limited English as they clearly address the process and reason for safe catch and release. If you are interested in working with the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation to produce these cards for your area please contact us. info@preschallenge.com

The Billfish Foundation Announces Plans to Conduct Critical White Marlin Research

August 14, 2008: The Billfish Foundation in cooperation with the South East Fisheries Science Center (Miami, FL) will conduct a satellite tagging project off the coasts of North Carolina and Maryland in early September. "White marlin are the most overfished of any of the highly migratory fish in the Atlantic", says Ellen Peel, President of TBF. The U.S. government is considering placing White Marlin on the Endangered Species list which would strike a deadly blow to sport fishing in the U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This research will be lead by Dr. Eric Prince and his associates. The first research goal is to deploy 20 satellite tags on white marlin during the September tagging trips. Funding is needed in order to purchase the tags needed to complete this project. Each tag costs $4,000.00. Contributions are tax deductible. For further information how you, your company or club can give financial assistance please contact Joan Vernon - (305) 361-9258.



MAY 1, 2007: It is very rare that a PSAT tag is retrieved after it is set free from the animal. Dr. Eric Prince was thrilled when he received word that one of our Mexican PSAT tags was discovered on a beach near Acapulco! When analyzed, the data contained in the tag will be extremely valuable to our scientific purposes.

DECEMBER 21, 2006: Dr. Eric Prince has informed us that all four PSAT tags placed in sailfish during our East Cape trip have popped up on schedule. We hope to have some initial data to post on this web site next week.

August 25, 2006: The Adopt-A-Billfish Program began Phase Two of research with a successful satellite tagging trip to East Cape, Baja California de Sur, Mexico, August 8-9-10, 2006. Our team of scientists included Dr. Eric Prince, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki from the Laboratorio de Ecologia Pesquera, CICESE in Ensenada, Mexico, and Dr. Rogelio Gonzalez Armas from the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, IPN, in La Paz, Mexico.

Drs. Prince, Sosa, and Armas were able to deploy all 4 pop up satellite archival tags (PSAT) on sailfish off East Cape. However, fishing for sailfish was rather slow compared to red hot fishing for striped marlin as well as blue marlin. In addition, the sailfish were on the small side, averaging 40 pounds or less. Each PSAT tag was programmed to pop up at 120 days, so the data on these fish will not be available to scientist for about four months, unless some of the tags come off prematurely. The research team did complete 6 tows with plankton nets to catch sailfish larvae. The scientists did observe some fish larvae in the samples but positive identification as to species will take some time to complete. No dead sailfish were observed at the resort, so plans are being made by Dr. Sosa to have one of his student interns collect some gonad samples off Mazatlan (to document sailfish spawning activity) before the summer spawning season ends.

The crew fished for two days aboard the ‘Go Fisch’ with Chris Fischer, host of the popular ESPN show, Offshore Adventures. Chris is a board member of The Billfish Foundation and was joined by fellow TBF board member, Joan Vernon, and consultant to TBF, Dr. Russell Nelson and Kim Amendola, NOAA Fisheries, St. Petersburg, FL. IGFA Representative from Mexico City, Monty Padilla, was on hand to help with the fishing. The first sailfish to be tagged was caught by Chris using a live bait with a circle hook. This fish was tagged with a PSAT tag, a conventional NOAA tag and released in good condition.

The Adopt-A-Billfish Program has always been a cooperative effort between the scientific staff and the local fishermen. Prior to our arrival Jesus ‘Chuy’ Valdez, owner of Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort and local IGFA Representative, spread the word that we would be in the area tagging sailfish. The second day of fishing the group was happy to hear that a guest of our host hotel had hooked a sailfish and was close enough to the Go Fisch to hand off the catch. Our tagging crew successfully implanted the PSAT tag and NOAA tag in the animal prior to a good, healthy release. The next animal to be tagged was caught by a local resident, Woody Sale, who called on the radio and reported the hook up. The Go Fisch ran over to his boat and a successful transfer and tag was made.

The final day the tagging group divided up on two of the Hotel Buena Vista boats to hunt for the last sailfish to be tagged. In the early afternoon Joan Vernon hooked up with a sailfish using a ballyhoo and a circle hook. The scientists were nearby and were able get to make the transfer and tag the fourth and final fish which was released in perfect condition.

An added feature to this trip was the participation of Sammy Baires, mate on the well known Guatemalan charter boat, Captain Hook. Funds contributed from the Presidential Challenge of Central America Conservation series were used to fly him to East Cape to help spread the circle hook message. Sammy was on hand to instruct the local boat crews to properly rig circle hooks. Eagle Claw donated 500 circle hooks to this cause. His instructions in Spanish on rigging were filmed by the crew from Offshore Adventures and will be available for distribution through The Billfish Foundation.

The funding for the Adopt-A-Billfish Program is all from private sources. We thank the Presidential Challenge of Central America and their partner in conservation, Costa Del Mar, for funding the travel arrangements for the entire tagging crew. Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort illustrated their commitment to conservation, catch and release fishing and the use of circle hooks by donating hotel rooms and boat time for the crew.

We particularly thank our tag sponsors for making this trip possible. The generosity of the following organizations is an example of their dedication to the conservation of billfish. They made possible our research that will help in the management of billfish stocks in the future: Sperry Top-Sider, Costa Del Mar, Yamaha Motors, The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament, Hotel Buena Vista Resort & Spa, The Presidential Challenge of Central America, The Billfish Foundation and the International Game Fish Association.

July 27, 2006: We are pleased to announce that the Adopt-A-Billfish Program in the eastern tropical Pacific will begin Phase II of our satellite tagging program this summer. Our team of scientists led by Dr. Eric Prince, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, will travel to East Cape, Baja California de Sur, Mexico, to begin tagging sailfish on August 8, 2006. Dr. Prince will be joined by Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki from the Laboratorio de Ecologia Pesquera, CICESE in Ensenada, Mexico, and Dr. Rogelio González Armas from the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, IPN, in La Paz, Mexico. Other NOAA Fisheries Scientists from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center will also be participating in the project.

According to Dr. Prince, the tagging team will work with recreational anglers to capture pacific sailfish using standard fishing techniques (trolled ballyhoo rigged with circle hooks and high speed lures). The travel arrangements and fund raising is a joint effort between The Presidential Challenge Conservation Series and their partner in conservation, Costa Del Mar. The funding for this project is a cooperative effort between Sperry Topsider, Yamaha Motors and The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament. Our host for the week in East Cape is Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort who is graciously donating accommodations and boat time to the group. It is due to businesses such as the above that this vital tagging mission is possible. The program is also assisted by The Billfish Foundation and The International Game Fish Association.

This Adopt-A-Billfish Project involves analyzing essential fish habitat of east Pacific sailfish. This species is supposed to spawn in the area of East Cape, Mexico, during the summer months and sustains a tremendous recreational fishery in this area. Dr. Oscar Sosa maintains that sailfish in the general area of East Cape are larger on average than in other parts of the Pacific side of Central America and represent the spawning population. This project proposes to deploy popup satellite archival tags (PSATs) on these sailfish and monitor their movement activity during the suspected spawning season.

In addition, Dr. Prince and Dr. González plan to use plankton nets to sample larval sailfish in the same area where they are tagging the adults. They will also try to obtain gonad samples from larger females caught in order to conduct histological analysis of the eggs to establish a firm basis for the fish spawning in this area.

GEOGRAPHICAL TARGET AREA: Sea of Cortez- specifically the area of East Cape, Baja California de Sur.

PARTICIPATING SCIENTISTS: Dr. Eric Prince, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki, Laboratorio de Ecologia Pesquera, Departamento de Oceanografia Biologica, CICESE and Dr. Rogelio González Armas from the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, IPN.

TAG SPONSORS: Sperry Topsider, Yamaha Motors, Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament

TRAVEL & ARRANGEMENTS: The Presidential Challenge Conservation Series and Costa Del Mar.

JUNE 17, 2006: The Adopt-A-Billfish Phase II satellite tagging project will begin in early August. The tagging crew will travel to East Cape, Mexico, to tag sailfish August 8-9-10, 2006. We want to thank the Buena Vista Hotel & Spa for hosting our scientists for this trip. We take this opportunity to also thank Costa del Mar, our partner in conservation, Sperry Topsider,Yamaha Motors and The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament for their support of this project.


APRIL 16, 2006: The Adopt-A-Billfish Program welcomes Sperry Topsider as a major tag sponsor of our Phase II tagging effort. Plans are in place to begin this project in East Cape, Baja, in early August. Our crew will travel to Mexico to do the satellite tagging as well as collecting larval samples of billfish.

MARCH 30, 2006: PHASE II - ADOPT-A-BILLFISH/SEA OF CORTEZ: We are set to kick off our Phase II tagging at East Cape, Mexico. Our host will be the Buena Vista Resort and Spa. Our crew is working to finalize the dates which will be toward the end of July. Chris Fischer Productions will be on hand to film our work to be shown on Chris' popular fishing show on ESPN. We will work with recreational anglers to capture pacific sailfish using standard fishing techniques (trolled ballyhoo and high speed lures). The majority of funding and substantial coordination of the work will be accomplished through the ‘Adopt A Billfish’ program, which is a partnership between The Billfish Foundation, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Atmospheric Science, the International Game Fish Association, Bermuda Division of Fisheries, and The Presidential Challenge Tournament Series including our conservation partner, Costa del Mar. Species included in the proposed work are restricted to sailfish, as this is the only istiophorid that is consistently abundant off the coast of Mexico. The objective of this work is to deploy PSAT tags on the large spawning size sailfish known to occur off the southern part of the Sea of Cortez. In essence, we want to monitor adult sailfish on the spawning grounds during the peak of spawning. The physical condition of animals and hook location will be recorded at capture. PSATs will be attached in the dorsal musculature just below the anterior portion of the dorsal fin. PSATs will be programmed on board to collect data over increasing time periods from 90 upwards of 150 days. The extent to which PSAT monitoring periods for sailfish can be increased will, to a large part, depend on improvements in handling, tethering, and anchoring mechanisms. Because sailfish are known to free jump more than other istiophorids, maintaining longer monitoring periods will be a particularly difficult challenge for this species. PSATs will detach from the sailfish after the defined interval and float to the surface, where the stored temperature, pressure and light intensity data will be transmitted to satellites of the Argos system, and ultimately to us via the internet. These data will be used to determine movement patterns on the known spawning areas, as well as time spent at temperature and depth in high resolution time scales (every 30 seconds). The ability of Pacific sailfish to carry PSATs for various time periods will be evaluated in tropical environments and the habitat preferences and movement patterns will be defined. Geographical target area: Sea of Cortez – specifically La Paz, Baja California de Sur, and Mazatlan. Participating Scientists: Dr. Eric Prince, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki, Laboratorio de Ecologia Pesquera, Departamento de oceanografia Biologica, David Holts, Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

MARCH 3, 2005: Adopt-A-Billfish Phast Two is set to begin in 2006. The satellite tagging of sailfish will be in the Sea of Cortez. Dr. Eric Prince will once again be the lead scientist on this project. He will be assisted by Dr.Oscar Sosa, University of Mexico, Ensendada and David Holts, NMFS, San Diego, California. The Presidential Challenge and our conservation partner, Costa Del Mar will raise funds to cover travel expenses for the tagging trips. Funds to purchase tags will be collect through donations to The Billfish Foundation, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and are tax deductible. Please contact our office for further information (305)361-9258.


Trip courtesy of Tropic Star Lodge & The Presidential Challenge of Central America This was the first tagging trip taken by the Adopt-A-Billfish scientific staff. Four tags were taken to Tropic Star Lodge to be placed in billfish. Scientific Staff: Dr. Eric Prince (NMFS S.E. Division/Miami) – David Holts (NMFS S.W. Division/San Diego) Fish Tagged: 1 Black Marlin – traveled 400-500 miles toward the border of Panama in 28 days. 1 Sailfish – traveled northwest about 100 miles in 28 days. 1 Blue Marlin – mortality


Fishing aboard the Old Reliable, courtesy of Nick Smith. Trip sponsored by Costa del Mar and The Presidential Challenge of Central America. Ten tags were taken on this trip. All ten tags were placed in sailfish and all ten tags reported. The results showed that the tagged sailfish scattered in all directions from the point of tagging. Scientific Staff: David Holts, Derke Snodgrass (NMFS S.E. Division/Miami) Here is a sample of some of the distances traveled: *518 miles in 40 days 485 miles in 59 days (toward Nicaragua and Guatemala) 555 miles in 59 days  1 sailfish crossed into Panamanian waters  3 sailfish swam offshore  1 sailfish traveled to Nicaraguan waters  1 sailfish traveled to El Salvador waters  1 sailfish traveled to Guatemalan waters  3 sailfish remained in Costa Rican waters


Trip arrangements courtesy of Costa del Mar and The Presidential Challenge of Central America. Dr. Russell Nelson representing The Billfish Foundation participated in the tagging. Ten tags were taken on this trip. All ten tags were placed in sailfish. One tag was placed in a blue marlin. Scientific Staff: David Holts, Derke Snodgrass. Days at Large Miles TraveledPop-up Location  61 178 miles Mexico  29 198 miles Offshore  46 *Blue Marlin 251 miles Offshore  53 197 miles Towards Mexico  54 140 Offshore  90 385 Offshore, South/SW toward El Salvador  72 470 Costa Rica  22 341 Offshore toward Guatemala/outside the EEZ of Guatemala  106 73 Guatemala  118 537 South


Trip coordinated by the IGFA, Monte Padilla(IGFA Representative-Mexico City), Stan Lushinsky(Ixtapa Sportfishing), Dr. Russell Nelson (The Billfish Foundation). Trip sponsored by Costa Del Mar, The Presidential Challenge of Central America, Tournament Anglers Association. Ten tags were taken on this trip. Nine sailfish were tagged. The sailfish tagged during this trip were extremely small in size. Four of the nine tags did not report. Scientific Staff: Dr. Eric Prince, David Holts.

Days at Large Miles Traveled Pop-up Location  19 238 Toward Guatemala  25 286 South West out of the EEZ of Mexico  30 295 South West out of THE EEZ OF MEXICO  22 345 Toward Guatemala  This fish also paralled the coast towards Guatemala.

*None of the sailfish tagged traveled North.


Trip coordinated by the IGFA, Terri Andrews(IGFA Treasurer and owner of Tropic Star Lodge), John Richardson (IGFA Representative). Trip sponsored by Costa Del Mar and The Presidential Challenge of Central America. Ten tags were taken on this trip and all were placed into sailfish. At this writing, the majority of the tags are still at large. Most were programmed for 45 to 120 days. The data from the tags reporting has not been analyzed at this writing.

Scientific Staff: Dr. Eric Prince, Derke Snodgrass

Data to date:  1 tag released early at 1 week  2- 45 day tags popped up

The following is a quote from Dr. Eric Prince regarding the Adopt-A-Billfish Pacific Program: “We have had success and failures- but more success than failure- in the program to date. We are dealing with state of the art electronics that we are improving with use. We will have data from 30-45 animals by the completion of this program. The goal for this program is to prove if the tagged animals stay within the boundaries of the country in which they are tagged or move out of the EEZ of the country where they are tagged.” “Questions still remain regarding the movement of sailfish along the Pacific Rim. What happens to sailfish in Baja and the Sea of Cortez? The answer to this question is the next target for the Adopt-A-Billfish Program in the Pacific.”

ADOPT-A-BILLFISH STUDY RESULTS:Dr. Eric Prince will present the results of this study at the 4th Billfish Symposium scheduled at Catalina Island in the fall of 2005.

*NOTE: All billfish released during this program were caught on Eagle Claw 2004 circle hooks.

JUNE 6, 2004; Our tagging team of Dr. Eric Prince and Derke Snodgrass will join the Guy Harvey party at Tropic Star Lodge the end of the month to complete our Adopt A Billfish program in the Pacific. They will tag 10 sailfish during their stay. Thanks go to Terry Andrews and Dr. Marcos Ostrander who are coordinating this trip on behalf of the IGFA. Terry is a Trustee and Marcos is the IGFA Representative in Panama.

JANUARY 27, 2004: The Adopt-A-Billfish Program headed to Ixtapa, Mexico, last week. Thanks to IGFA Representative from Mexico, Monty Padilla, Dr. Eric Prince,David Holts and Dr. Oscar Sosa (Mexican Department of Fisheries) were able to place PSAT tags into nine sailfish during their stay in this beautiful Pacific resort area. The tags are programed to pop up in 60 to 90 days. In addition to Monty Padilla, the scientific crew was joined by Sr. German Portilla who generously donated his boat for the tagging.This trip was made possible by the Presidential Challenge of Central America, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and the IGFA. The crew was joined by Dr. Russell Nelson representing The Billfish Foundation. Russell and Monty took advantage of their time to meet with local captains to discuss various conservation issues including the use of circle hooks and the problem with long lining off the Mexican coast. MANY THANKS TO THE TOURNAMENT ANGLERS ASSOCIATION FOR THEIR GENEROUS CONTRIBUTION TO THE TAG PROGRAM.

GUATEMALA TAGS START TO SEND DATA: Eric Prince and Dave Holts report that the tags placed in sailfish in November of 2003 have begun to pop up on schedule. It takes several months to process this data. As soon as results are known, we will put notice on this website.

JANUARY 11, 2004: The Adopt-A-Billfish Program moves to Ixtapa, Mexico, on January 14th. Dr. Eric Prince, David Holts, Joan Vernon and Dr. Russell Nelson will journey to this lovely Mexican fishing destination to tag another ten sailfish. This trip has been coordinated by Monty Padilla, IGFA Representative from Mexico City. The IGFA is our new partner for the Pacific tagging project. The tags we will use will be programmed for longer periods of time in an attempt to get a better understanding of the distances these animals travel up and down the Pacific Coast.

NOVEMBER 24, 2003: The Adopt-A-Billfish tagging trip to Guatemala was a tremendous success! All ten tags were placed into sailfish. The first five were caught by Joan Vernon aboard the CLASSIC. The last five were tagged by Adopt-A-Billfish donor, Bill Easum, fishing aboard the Pelagian. Dr. Eric Prince sent two extra tags with hopes of putting them into blue marlin. On the first day of tagging, Bill Easum hooked up with a nice blue and we were able to get the tag into the fish prior to release. We are now focusing our efforts on the next trip. In January our tagging crew will go to Ixtapa, Mexico. A joint effort between the Presidential Challenge, Costa del Mar sunglasses and the I.G.F.A. is making this trip possible.

NOVEMBER 2,2003: The Adopt-A-Billfish satellite tagging effort continues to move forward. Guatemala is the next country to benefit from this program. Our scientists, David Holts(NMFS SAN DIEGO) and Derke Snodgrass (NMFS MIAMI)will travel to Guatemala with 10 satellite tags to be placed in sailfish. The fishing will be done by anglers staying over after THE PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGE OF CENTRAL AMERICA tournament. Holts and Snodgrass will be aboard the Artmarina boat CLASSIC to conduct the tagging. We are pleased to have SPORTING TRADITIONS, Miami, Florida, as a partner in this segment of our project. They have generously donated housing for our staff.

Dr. Eric Prince reports that he is compiling the data received from the 10 sailfish tagged in Costa Rica last March. As soon as his paper is pubished we will post this data on our web page.



We are pleased to announce that our satellite tagging trip to Los Sueños, Costa Rica, was a tremendous success! Our scientific crew, David Holts (NMFS San Diego) and Derke Snodgrass (NMFS Miami) tagged 10 Pacific Sailfish with the PSAT tags during three days of fishing. All fish were released in excellent shape. The pop-up times were set for 30,45 and 60 days. This will give us a good idea of the movement of these fish along the Eastern Pacific coast as sailfish seasons are set to begin in northern Costa Rica and Panama.

This trip was made possible by Mr. Nick Smith, Palm Beach, Florida, who generously donated the use of his boat, Old Reliable, and his captain, Chip Shafer for our taggin. Mr. Bill Royster, of Los Sueños Resort housed our staff during their stay in Costa Rica. Joining the scientists were Ed Moody and Lisa Meloni representing Costa Del Mar sunglasses. Costa Del Mar sponsored our first tag of the trip, a 55 pound sail, released by Lisa! All of the people mentioned above are truly dedicated to the conservation of billfish and to the success of our satellite tagging program. We thank them for their commitment to the future of billfish management in Central America.

The Adopt-A-Billfish Program will continue in November in conjunction with the Presidential Challenge of Central America Tournament in Guatemala. Tagging will be done immediately following the event, November 17, 18, 19, 2003. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a tag and joining us on this expedition, please contact Joan Vernon (information is below). We are also trying to put together a tagging trip to Ixtapa, Mexico, in January of 2004. According to the plan set forth by Dr. Robert Cowen, University of Miami Center for Sustainable Fisheries, ten tags will be used in each future location.

The Adopt-A-Billfish Program is a joint effort between the following:





IF YOU ARE GOING TO COSTA RICA YOU BETTER BE PREPARED TO FISH WITH CIRCLE HOOKS! Thanks to Dr. Russell Nelson and The Billfish Foundation, the offical fishery agency of Costa Rica, INCOPESCA, has passed a resolution requiring the use of circle hooks for catch and release fishing! This is a major step in billfish conservation and can be a termed "THE SHOT THAT WAS HEARD AROUND THE WORLD" for anglers!
FEBRUARY 7, 2003: We are proud to welcome COSTA DEL MAR SUNGLASSES to our growing list of Adopt-A-Billfish tag sponsors. The crew from Costa Del Mar will join us for our second satellite tagging trip scheduled in Costa Rica March 10-11-12, 2003. We will be fishing out of the lovely Los Suenos Resort. This trip will be led by Dave Holts, NMFS San Diego. We plan on tagging 10 sailfish during our stay. To participate in our tagging program please click the Adopt-A-Billfish icon on our Home Page.

JANUARY 24, 2003:

The second tagging trip will take place March 10-11-12 out of the lovely Los Suenos resort in Costa Rica. One of our PCCA Fly Anglers, Nick Smith, has offered use of his boat. Dave Holts from NMFS in San Diego will head up the trip. We hope to tag 10 sailfish during our stay.
NOVEMBER 13, 2002: GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA: Conservation of billfish in this country took a giant leap forward with the approval of a new BILLFISH PROTECTION LAW. We hear from our PCCA coordinator in Guatemala, Julio Mansylla, that this law will have been approved and will go into effect next month. The following text has been translated from the law:

ARTICLE 28: It has been established that the sailfish, Istiophorus Platypterus, remains reserved for sports fishing. The capture of this species is forbidden for commercial fishing activity. The competent authority will establish which other species are reserved for sports fishing.

ARTICLE 29: …………will be specified by MAGA, through the competent authority in the correspondent rules. j)To fish and commercialize intentionally the sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus, except sports fishing, whose practitioners may capture them and return them with life to the sea, and those sailfish which are captured incidentally in the commercial fishing of any of the types and classes authorized by the competent authority; must be freed and returned to the sea. 2. ……………..which are referred in paragraphs i) and j) of the previous Article: a) For the first time, the Competent Authority will impose a fine between five hundred (US $500.) and one thousand (US $1000.) USA dollars or its equivalent in legal currency adjusted to the current rate of exchange of the trade market, to the responsible vessel.

b)In the event the violation is repeated, t he fine will increase by one hundred percent (100%) c)In the event of a third violation the fishing privilege will be revoked for a period between three (3) to six (6) months.

NOVEMBER 4, 2002: Great news from Dr. Russell Nelson and The Billfish Foundation. The evening of October 29th, the Pacific Fisher management Council voted unanimously to approve a Fisher Management Plan for Highly Migratory Species that prohibits the use of longlines within the 200 mile EEZ of the west coast and prohibits the sale of striped marlin. “This vote was a win for the fish”, said Dr. Russell Nelson, TBF’s fisheries consultant, “and we can now look towards restoring the striped marlin stocks off of southern California and using this U.S. example to help in developing safeguards against destructive longline gear in other nations of the Pacific Americas”. TBF President, Ellen Peel, praised the decision: “We see that our resources and intense efforts devoted to this issue was a sound investment in good management and thank the Council and the California Department of Fish and Game for the leadership t hey exerted in this battle for good conservation”. To quote the TBF press release…”The overwhelming support of California TBF members, anglers and conservationists especially t he United Anglers of Southern California, played a crucial role in convincing the Council that any new longline fisher was not in the best interests of the resources. The council received over 10,000 signed pieces of correspondence arguing against longlines during the process of developing the Plan.”

SEPT. 12, 2002: We are pleased to report that we successfully tagged three billfish with satellite pop up tags (psat) during our recent trip to Panama. Tropic Star Lodge was the venue. We were joined by some of our Presidential Challenge anglers: John & Monte Richardson & Billy Pesch fishing aboard the Picaflor/Jim & Kyle Wiese fishing on the Aguja/Bobby Novey & family fishing aboard the Amangani. Raleigh Werking and Dave Ferrell were fishing aboard the Tropic Star boat, Costa Rica.. The “chase” boat was the TSL boat, Puerto Rico, with our two NMFS scientists, Dr. Eric Prince & Dave Holts, plus Joan Vernon.

FISH ONE: AFTCO TAG- 600 lb. + blue marlin caught by Billy Pesch on 50lb test line. Tagged with psat tag & NMFS tag.

FISH TWO: PCCA & CONOMAR TAG: 350 lb+ Black marlin caught by Raleigh Werking on 50 lb test. Tagged with psat tag & NMFS tag.

FISH THREE: YAMAHA CONTENDER MIAMI BILLFISH TOURNAMENT TAG: 85lb Pacific sailfish caught by Joan Vernon 30 lb. Test line. Tagged with psat tag & NMFS tag.

The psat tags are scheduled to pop up on October 6th. Dr.Prince should begin receiving data about 4 days later.


AUGUST 24, 2002: Plans have been finalized for the first joint satellite tagging effort by the NMFS Southeast and Southwest divisions! This is also a first for the University of Miami to become involved in Pacific billfish research. Dr. Eric Prince, Dave Holts and Joan Vernon will travel to Panama on Sept. 4th and head out to Tropic Star Lodge on Sept. 5th. They will be joined by John Richardson and Bill Pesch aboard the Picaflor, Jim Wiese aboard the Aguja. Fishing will begin on Sept. 6th. We will want to thank the following people and organizations for contributing to the funding of this project: AFTCO MFG, THE YAMAHA CONTENDER MIAMI BILLFISH TOURNAMENT, PCCA-PANAMA, INTERNATIONAL LIGHT TACKLE TOURNAMENT ASSOC (ILTTA), DIANE LOCKE, BILL EASUM, NORA SCHOFIELD, SJON & JAMIE HARLESS. More donations are in the mail and donors will be posted when funds are received. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A PART OF THIS ADVENTURE, CALL JOAN VERNON, 305/361-9258. WE NEED ANGLERS AND TROPIC STAR HAS MADE TWO BOATS AVAILABLE FOR ANY INTERESTED PARTIES!!!!!

JULY 30, 2002: Plans are progressing to begin the satellite tagging of billfish in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Tropic Star Lodge will host the first tagging expedition beginning September 6th. Lodge owner, Terri Andrews, an IGFA Trustee and avid supporter of billfish conservation, has donated boat time for our efforts. Local fishermen will travel from Panama to assist in catching the animals that will receive tags. On hand to implant the tags will be Dr. Eric Prince, NMFS Souteast Division and Dave Holts, NMFS Southwest Division. Eric just completed a massive blue marlin tagging expedition in the Bahamas where he implanted 25 satellite tags in marlin.


APRIL 25, 2002: The PCCA is actively involved in billfish conservation along the Eastern Pacific. Today we announce a joint effort between the Center for Sustainable Fisheries, Miami, Florida, to move forward with much needed billfish research in this area. We are starting our ADOPT-A-BILLFISH program! Efforts to manage billfish stocks along the Pacific coast of Central America requires knowledge of the fishes' movements. We have joined together to create a program to study the movements of billfish using technology that will enable the tracking of the fish via satellites. By placing small satellite pop-up tags onto released fish, the location and depth of the fish can be tracked.

TO SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT PROGRAM, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO 'ADOPT A BILLFISH' at a cost of $4000.(US) each. These funds will go directly to the purchase of a satellite tag. Costs of fishing effort to place the tags onto fish is being donated by fishing clubs and captains throughout Central America. You will receive information on the track your fish travels and ultimate destination of the fish via email or mail. You may purchase an entire tag or a portion of tag. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT DR. ROBERT K. COWEN, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES, rcowen@rsmas.miami.edu OR JOAN VERNON, pezvelajv@aol.com. Please help us with this very important research project!

APRIL 14, 2002: The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament was the first billfish tournament in the United States to announce the required use of circle hooks. This was a major step in promoting the safe catch and release of billfish. As the angling community watched, anglers fished successfully for 3 days using the Tournament Approved circle hooks. As a result of scientific study, it has been determined that degree of offset is most important when choosing a circle hook. The YCMBT does not allow a circle hook with over a 3 degree offset. Listed below are the TOURNAMENT APPROVED CIRCLE HOOKS: ƒá Eagle Claw L2004EL ƒá Eagle Claw L2222 ƒá Mustad UltraPoint 39950BL ƒá Gamakatsu ¡§Live Bait H.D. Circle¡¨ #210 series ƒá Gamakatsu ¡§Big Eye Circle¡¨ #120 series Owner SSW Circle Hook #5178 series




Eric D. Prince, Mauricio Ortiz, and Arietta Venzelos

National Marine Fisheries Service, Miami, Florida

This study evaluates the performance of circle and comparable size ¡§J¡¨ hooks on Atlantic and Pacific sailfish. Terminal gear performances were assessed in terms of fishing success, hook location and bleeding associated with physical hook damage and trauma.

360 Pacific sails were caught in Guatemala to assess terminal gear performance: 235 sail were on circle hooks and 125 were on ¡§J¡¨ hooks. Circle hooks used on sailfish had hooking percentages that were 1.83 times higher compared to ¡§J¡¨ hooks. ¡P
Significantly more sailfish were hooked in the corner of the mount using circle hooks (85%vs27%) whereas significantly more sailfish were deep hooked in the throat and stomach using ¡§J¡¨ hooks (46%vs 2¡¦%). ¡P
Only one sailfish was foul hooked using circle hooks while 11 sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks were foul hooked. ¡P
Sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks are about 21 times more likely to suffer hook related bleeding than those caught on circle hooks.
The study of the Atlantic Sailfish was primarily and compared the use of variations of offset circle hooks while live baiting for sailfish in S. Florida.

75 Atlantic sailfish were used in this study. No difference in catch percentage or bleeding was found between circle hooks with no offset, minor offset(about 4 degrees), or severe offset points (about 15 degrees). ¡P
The percentage of deep hooking in the throat and stomach for circle hooks with severe offset (44%) was comparable to the deep hooking percentage for ¡§J¡¨ hooks (46%) ¡P
In general, use of circle hooks resulted in measures of fishing success that were comparable to or higher than ¡§J¡¨ hooks. ¡P
Circle hooks minimized deep hooking, foul hooking, and bleeding. ¡P
Thus, the use of circle hooks has considerable potential for promoting the live release of billfish in recreational fisheries.

Stocks of Atlantic Sailfish, blue marlin and white marlin have been identified by ICCAT as either over-exploited or fully exploited for more than two decades. ¡P
The most current summaries of stock status for Atlantic sailfish and marlin note the historically high rates of fishing mortality observed in recent years. ¡P
Recent reports indicate that circle hooks used in rod & reel recreational fisheries for striped bass, Chinook salmon and Atlantic bluefin tuna have been shown to significantly reduce deep hooking and thus promote the live release of these species.

Circle hooks showed significantly higher hooking percentages compared to ¡§J¡¨ hooks. ¡P
Odds ratio tests indicated that on average, circle hooks are 1.83 times more likely to hook a sailfish than a ¡§J¡¨ hook. ¡P
Circle hooks are closely associated with hooks in in the corner of the mouth while ¡§J¡¨ hooks were closely associated with deep hooking and foul hooking. ¡P
Seventy on of the 125 sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks were observed bleeding, as compared to 14 of 235 sailfish caught on circle hooks. This difference was highly significant and the Odds ratio test indicated that a sailfish caught on a ¡§J¡¨ hook was 20.75 times more likely to bleed compared to one caught on a circle hook. ¡P
Correspondence analysis showed that ¡§J¡¨ hooks were highly associated with minor/moderate/severe bleeding, while circle hooks were associated with no bleeding. ¡P
Seventy-five sailfish were caught on circle hooks using live bait in the recreational fishery off South Florida. Conclusion showed that severe offset circle hooks were associated with deep hooking, while minor and no offset hooks were associated with jaw and corner of mouth hook locations.

One of the first concerns in attempting to change the terminal gear in any recreational fishery is that such a change will negatively impact fishing success. This study showed that catch percentages were unaffected by a change in hook type using the different terminal gears during the fishing in Guatemala. ¡P
Sailfish catch percentages were also high for circle hooks fished with live bait off Florida. However, it should be noted that catch percentages and catch rates for circle hooks depended on the novel forehead hook placement used to rig the dead natural baits, as well as a certain amount of training to implement a more passive approach to setting circle hooks.

Circle hooks fished in the manner described were found to have a higher hooking percentage for sailfish compared to ¡§J¡¨ hooks and this result was corroborated with field observations. For example, it was observed that ¡§J¡¨ hooks often de-hooked during the fight when sailfish jumped out of water and this was less likely to occur with a circle hook. The curved point of the circle hook appeared to reduce de-hooking under these circumstances.

Overall, catch percentages, hooking percentages, and catch rates reported in this study were generally comparable to or higher for circle hooks compared to those for ¡§J¡¨ hooks. These results are likely to encourage recreational billfishing constituents, who might not otherwise be receptive to changes in their fishing tackle, to consider the use of circle hooks as a terminal gear alternative to ¡§J¡¨ hooks.

Hooks found in the jaw hinge or mouth, or fish bleeding from these locations, were not considered life threatening. Conversely, hooks found in the upper palate, throat, pharynx, esophagus, or in the stomach and fish showing lacerations or bleeding from these areas were considered potentially lethal.

The results of this study clearly indicated that the use of circle hooks can minimize deep hooking and foul hooking in the recreational trolling/pitch bait fisheries for sailfish. ¡P
Several instances were documented where ¡§J¡¨ hooks were foul hooked in the eye. If eye injuries result in blindness, then this injury could potentially affect survival because billfish are highly dependent on daytime sight feeding in the upper portions of the water column. Blindness in one eye would negatively impact peripheral vision and could seriously inhibit the ability of these species to feed. Numerous instances were also documented where ¡§J¡¨ hook injuries that were not caused by foul hooking could have caused eye damage. In some cases, ¡§J¡¨ hooks caused deep lacerations to the upper palate, which, on occasion, affected the occipital orbit and resulted in hemorrhaging in the eye. These injuries are deceptive and are difficult to see in the fish at boat side. In addition, upper palate injuries can also affect the integrity of the cranial cavity by making this area susceptible to possible infection. However, these injuries are not immediately evident upon capture. ¡P
The evaluation of bleeding indicated that significantly more sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks bled compared to circle hooks. This result may be the single most compelling finding in this study, as sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks were about 21 times more likely to bleed compared to those caught on circle hooks. ¡P
Bleeding from the gills was found in 10% of the sailfish caught on ¡§J¡¨ hooks and 1% of the sailfish caught on circle hooks. However, circle hooks were not found embedded in gill arches or filaments, whereas numerous ¡§J¡¨ hooks were found lodged in these structures. After closer observation, it was determined that monofilament frequently became caught behind the gill plates during the fight, regardless of the type of terminal gear. Monofilament coming into contact with the gill structure appeared to irritate the gill filaments and resulted in mostly moderate or minor bleeding. This was non-hook related bleeding.

¡§The current high rate of fishing mortality and depressed stock status of most Atlantic billfish justify development of alternative approaches for reducing hook induced mortality for these species. One such approach would be the modification of terminal gear in order to reduce hook related injuries and trauma experienced during catch and release fishing. This study compared circle hook and similar size ¡§J¡¨ hook performance while trolling/pitching dead bait or drifting live bait for billfish-methods often used by anglers targeting these species. Rates of fishing success and hooking percentage were comparable or higher for circle hooks compared to ¡§J¡¨ hooks. In addition, use of circle hooks resulted in lower rates of deep hooking, foul hooking, and bleeding compared to ¡§J¡¨ hooks. During live bait experiments, severe offset circle hooks(>15degrees) were associated with increased deep hooking percentages(44%) that were similar to percentages observed for ¡§J¡¨ hooks using dead bait (46%). Given the multiple benefits of minimized hook related injury and comparable or improved fishing success and hooking percentages using circle hooks in dead or live bait recreational fisheries for billfish, this terminal gear appears to have potential as a means to promote the live release of these species.
All Sporting Traditions events benefit conservation, environment, education and well-being of the citizens of the participating countries. In addition to the contributions listed above, we have made the following donations: ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO: The Isla Mujeres Ladies Billfish Tournament contributed $1500. to the Isla Mujeres Red Cross Women's program to assist with their educational program. COSTA RICA: $300. was donated to the Great Ideas Womens Club to assist them with projects for underprivileged children in and around Flamingo, Costa Rica. In 2000, money was donated to purchase a freezer for the newly renovated school in Brasilito, Costa Rica. With assistance from the YAMAHA CONTENDER MIAMI BILLFISH TOURNAMENT and IKON, a copy machine is on the way to the school.







AUGUST 21, 2001: On August 17, 2001, INCOPESCA, the governing fishery agency in Costa Rica, held a meeting in Quepos, CR, which was attended by commercial interests as well as sport fishermen. According to Rick Wallace (El Ocotal Resort and one of the leaders of the sport fishing group) "...there was a request by commercial fishing interests under pressure from exporters to revoke prohibition of sailfish export. It seems the exporters are artificially lowering the value of sailfish meat in local markets as an excuse to open up a supposed excess for export." Rick further states, "Our(sport fishing) argument and presence was very good. I am not greatly concerned that the law would be overturned but we need to be on our toes. We are going to use this as an opportunity to get further protections." Rick also stated that there was a proposal to make CIRCLE HOOKS MANDATORY for both sport fishing and longliners fishing in Costa Rica waters. Representatives from the Asociacion Marineros de Servicios Turisticos del Pacifico from Flamingo, Costa Rica, went by bus from Flamingo to Quepos to be present at this meeting. This is a group of charter fishing captains and mates who are dedicated to promoting billfish conservation in Costa Rica. The Presidential Challenge of Central America recently contributed tournament proceeds to assist this group in their organizational process. INCOPESCA will meet again this week. Rick Wallace and Alberto Laurencich of Club Amateur de Pesca(San Jose, Costa Rica) are on the committee representing the sport fishing interests.

JULY 8, 2001: Guatemala City was the site of a recent meeting of members representing the PACIFIC ALLIANCE. Members gathered at the request of Harris Whitbeck, First Secretary to President Portillo, for the purpose of educating the Guatemalan fishery interests in conservation and good management of pelagic species. This was the first step in the process of convincing the Guatemalan Congress to keep the existing sailfish protection laws. Thelma Quan, assistant to Joan Vernon, PCCA organizer, put together this meeting which was attended by Dr. Marcos Ostrander(Panama), Rick Wallace(Costa Rica), Dr. Juan Carlos Chavez(Mexico), Dr. Nelson Ehrhardt(University of Miami) among others. This was a ¡§knowledge sharing¡¨ session for the purpose of opening dialogue between the sport fishing and commercial interests in Guatemala. The next meeting of the PACIFIC ALLIANCE will take place on November 27th in Panama.

This organization is an outgrowth of the 2nd Sport Fishing Economic Conference that was held in Guatemala last December. This event was organized and funded by The Presidential Challenge of Central America. The Pacific Alliance is made up of members from Mexico to Ecuador¡K.people who are taking an active part in working with local governments to promote the conservation of billfish and promote sport fishing tourism. These two activites go hand in hand along the Eastern Pacific. Billfish are visitors without passports to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. The Pacific Alliance is working together to convince governments of these countries that the value of a live billfish is much greater that a dead fish on the dock. Much of the funding for these meetings comes from proceeds from The Presidential Challenge of Central America.

JUNE 10, 2001: Guatemala will host a meeting of sport fishing experts on June 21-22 in Guatemala City. The government of Guatemala and INGUAT are the hosts of this very important information sharing meeting. The Presidential Challenge is instrumental in the formation of this meeting for the purpose of educating the Guatemalan Congress in the benefits of sport fishing tourism....AND THEREFORE....conservation of billfish. Guillermo Alvarez, Cabo San Luca, MX. and leader of the Billfish group in Mexico, will attend along with Dr. Marcos Ostrander(Panama-author of Panama's billfish protection law), Dr. Juan Carlos Chavez, Univesity of Colima(socio economic benefits of sport fishing tourism), Dr. Nelson Ehrhart, University of Miami Marine Scientist(Center for Sustainable Fisheries), Rick Wallace(owner, El Ocotal Resort, Costa Rica, conservation leader in Costa Rica). Attending from Guatemala will be members of the legislature and Secretaries of Commerce and Fisheries who will make the official recommendation to Congress later this year on whether or not to continue the sailfish protection measures in Guatemala.

As a result of the PCCA sponsored Sport Fishing Economic Conference of Central America, delegates met at the Tianguis Acapulco in late April to unite in an effort to promote conservation in the Eastern Pacific. The Presidential Challenge of Central America and The Billfish Foundation joined forces with members of the Mexican Billfish Foundation to set forth the ground work for the PACIFIC ALLIANCE. Meetings were held at the Club de Yates in Acapulco attended by representatives of the Mexican sport fishing interests, Mexican senators and fishery officials,the Guatemalan government (Mr. Harris Whitbeck, First Secretary to President Portilla), Mexican and Guatemalan tourism officials, Panamanian sport fishing interests, Joan Vernon(PCCA), Ellen Peel (TBF) and Russell Nelson(TBF). This meeting laid the ground work for the future of the sport fishing tourism industry and gamefish conservation from Cabo San Lucas to Ecuador.
A ONE HOUR SEMINAR was given by Joan, Ellen, Russell, Dr. Marcos Ostrander(Panama) and Dr. Juan Carlos Chavez(Mexico). This presentation was given at the Tianguis to travel agents and tourism officials. Emphasis was put on the value of gamefish to the economy of Mexico and Central America. To expand the sport fishing industry these countries must conserve the resource by controlling commercial fishing, practicing safe catch and release and enacting new laws to protect endangered species.

AS A RESULT OF THIS CONFERENCE, meetings are scheduled in Guatemala with President Portilla in an attempt to head off a movement by commercial interests to expand longlining of billfish off the Guatemalan coast. Experts are being flown in to address the President and members of the Congressional fishery committee who will make the final recommendations. ALSO AS A RESULT of this meeting, the Mexican Billfish Foundation has scheduled a meeting with President Fox and members of the Mexican fishery commission in Mazatlan to demonstrate the importance of the sport fishing economy to Mexico.

FEBRUARY 25, 2001:CIRCLE HOOKS ARE A HIT IN ISLA! The captains running the tournament boats for the Fifth Isla Mujeres Ladies Billfish Tournament are impressed with the results of using the Eagle Claw 2004 circle hooks. The first day of the tournament anglers release 32 sails out of 50 bites. Some of the boats participating are: SEA TRIAL, CAPT. EARL KEANE / LILLY M, CAPT. ANTHONY MENDELLO / BONE SHAKER, CAPT VJ BELL / PELICAN, CAPT. ARCH BRACHER / H T HOOK, CAPT. NEIL ORANGE / SMOKER, CAPT. BRENNER PARKS / DOUBLE SHOT, CAPT. WINK DOERZBACHER. Many of the above boats have announced that they are switching to circle hooks in the interest of conservation. We are proud of our lady anglers for having the courage and willingness to switch to circle hooks!



The Second Sport Fishing Economic Conference of Central America was held on December 1, 2000, at the Westin Camino Real Hotel in Guatemala City. Representatives from Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Puerto Rico attended this event. Sponsors of the meeting were The Presidential Challenge of Central America, The Billfish Foundation and INGUAT(Tourism Department/Guatemala). Transportation was furnished by CONTINENTAL AIRLINES

Following welcome remarks given by Mr. Harris Whitbeck, First Executive Secretary of the President, invited speakers presented various aspects of recreational fishing and tourism. Key Note Speaker, Dr. Robert Ditton enlightened with a talk on the importance of good resource management and conservation in relation to the development of a recreational fishing industry in Central America. The strength of his presentation was emphasizing the point the countries cannot promote and sell what they do not have.

Presentations were given to the attendees on the current status of billfish laws in Costa Rica and Panama. Rick Wallace and Terri Andrews updated the group on problems of enforcement in both countries. Dr. Julio Hernández, First Advisor of the Minister of Agriculture, reviewed the proposed fishery law in Guatemala. Mike Leech, President of the I.G.F.A. and Dr. Ellen Peel made presentations on behalf of conservation of billfish.

Dr. Marcos Ostrander, Panama, served as moderator. The afternoon session began with representative of the countries in attendance giving a presentation of sport fishing tourism in their respective areas. Dr. Juan Carlos Chavez presented an interesting study he preformed in Manzanillo, Mexico, showing the impact of the sport fishing industry in that area. Dr. Russell Nelson touched on the huge potential and need for development of resorts on the Caribbean side of Central America.

In conclusion, the group encouraged the formation of an association of Central American countries and include Columbia and Ecuador for the purpose of uniting the sport fishing tourism interests in an attempt to influence governments to unify laws and regulations pertaining to highly migratory species. The next meeting of the Eastern Pacific Sport Fishing Group will be held in two years in San Jose, Costa Rica. FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT JOAN VERNON 305/361-9258.

tab down for complete information on conservation in Costa Rica as well as tournament information.

OCTOBER 26, 2000: Sport fishing interests in Guatemala are fighting to save their Billfish Protection Laws in that country. Word comes from Mr. Julio Mansylla, PCCA Advisor and IGFA Representative from Guatemala, that a compromise has been reached to salvage the 1997 Presidential Decree protecting sailfish. Mr. Mansylla has been working with members of the Guatemalan Congress to form an actual law which will still allow local commercial fishing but, at the same time, prevent mass slaughter of billfish in that country. The Law will apply to Sailfish, Black Marlin, Blue Marlin and Striped Marlin.

Sport fishermen are allowed to fish the above species with the obligation to release all fish caught.
Billfish captured by incidental catch in commercial fishing, if alive, must be released. If they are dead, they can be kept and used only for self-consumption. Billfish captured cannot be higher than 5% of the total catch of the ship. COMMERCIALIZATION AND EXPORTATION IS PROHIBITED.
According to Mr. Mansylla, the project is in the hands of the Guatemalan Senators & Congress. We are all hoping that this measure will be approved and implemented as "The Fishing Law for Guatemala" in the near future. We congratulate Julio Mansylla for his efforts in negotiating this legislation.

October 28, 2000 - The Second Sport Fishing Economic Conference of Central America will be held on December 1, 2000, at the Westin Camino Real Hotel in Guatemala City. The purpose of this Conference is to bring together governments, resort owners, travel businesses and conservation experts to discuss the future of the sport fishing industry in Central America. Countries represented to date are Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. Dr. Robert Ditton, Texas A&M University, will be our keynote speaker. We will discuss the development stage of the industry and what nations can do to further increase sport fishing tourism in their countries.

Our goal is to share with representatives of each of the countries of Central America information concerning the economic importance of sport fishing as an eco-tourism trade.

July 21, 2000 - Rick Wallace of El Ocotal Resort announced to the anglers of The Presidential Challenge that the strict billfish protection laws pretaining to long lining and the sale of billfish have held up in Costa Rican court...all the way through the Supreme Court! Now the real work begins....enforcement. This is wonderful news and a new beginning to conservation in this country.

President Figures signed four Presidential Decrees for the protection of Billfish and Snook in costa Rican waters 4 years ago. The day after they were signed, commercial fishing interests contested the decrees and sent them to the Supreme Court. On March 22, 2000, the court validated these 4 decrees, which makes them enforceable! The key elements of the decrees are:

Decree # 24382: Prohibits the use of gill nets within 2000 meters of all river mouths in the Country.

Decree #24383: Prohibits the use of long lines of more than 1000 meters in length within 100 miles of the coast line and those lines that may be used within 100 miles must be used at depths of at least 30 meters(100 ft) and only Artisenal fishermen in boats less than 26 feet in length.

Decree #24385: Delcares the Sailfish, black, blue and striped Marlin species to be a "Sport Fishing Interest" and prohibits the international capture of these species for both commercial and sports fishermen, an attempt must be made to release the fish alive. It prohibits their use as bait. It permits that any of this species captured that cannot be released alive may only be commercialized in the local market but may nt be exported or industrialized for either local or export markets. In short, the decree makes it illegal to target billfish for commercial use. It also requires the government to conduct scientific studies to determine the state of this marine species in Costa Rican waters and determine what if any additional regulation is required.

Decree #24384: Declares the Tarpon as a species of "Sport Fishing Interest" and prohibits its commercialization or use as bait.

JULY 9, 2000: The Second Sport Fishing Economic Conference of Central America is set for December 1, 2000, at the Weston Camino Real Hotel in Guatemala City. Speakers will include Dr. Robert Ditton along with members of the tourism communtiy in Central America. Please call our office for details.

JULY 4, 2001: We are pleased to announce that The Isla Mujeres Ladies Billfish Tournamenta will follow the lead of The Presidential Challenge Series and become an all circle hook event. Anglers will troll ballyhoo rigged with Eagle Claw circle hooks ONLY! This is an effort put forth to try and limit billfish mortality in catch and release fishing. FEBRUARY 25, 2000: Following the lead of The Presidential Challenge of Central America. Club Amateur de Pesca in San Jose, Costa Rica, recently took delivery of 10,000 circle hooks donated by The Billfish Foundation in an attempt to convert their membership. The Rolex/IGFA Tournament of Champions in Kona requires the use of circle hooks when anglers use bait. The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament is offering a special prize for top angler using circle hooks. DECEMBER 13, 1999: The main topic at the recently held National Symposium on Catch and Release in Marine Recreational Fisheries was research on the success of circle hooks. Anglers must realize that the safe catch and release of fish will keep mortality to a minimum. It is now proven through scientific research that the use of circle hooks is imparitive to the lowering of billfish mortality. Dr. Eric Prince, NMFS, reported on research done at Fins 'n Feathers Inn, Guatemala, last Spring. Fish hooked with "J" hooks had more damage...57% were bleeders. IF YOU ARE NOT CURRENTLY USING CIRCLE HOOKS, PLEASE GIVE THEM A TRY! Just remember....do not set the hook,just wind tight and hold the rod steady and DO NOT OFFSET THE HOOK! Offsetting causes deep hooking and also makes it possible to foul hook a fish. Call our office is you have further questions. The results of Dr. Prince's study will be summarized in our next issue of SPORTING TRADITIONS, THE MAGAZINE. NOVEMBER 13, 1999: The Guatemalan Navy recently captured a local long line boat with 4000 pounds of dead sailfish aboard. The boat was impounded and fined. The problem is...the fine was only $50.00!!!!! Local conservationists are glad that the boat was arrested but very upset at the amount of the fine. We are working very hard in Guatemala to give support to local organizations to pressure the government into raising fines. NOVEMBER 12, 1999: The Presidential Challenge Fishing Team of Joan Vernon, Marge Adams and Sherry Jumonville recently won the Club Nautico de Guatemala Billfish Tournament with 21 releases ALL CAUGHT ON CIRCLE HOOKS!!! We will post the percentages later today but the hook up ratio was incredible! CIRCLE HOOKS WORK! Give them a try. AUGUST 30, 1999..... Word comes from Capt. Richard Chellimi,GAMEFISHER II-Flamingo, Costa Rica, that one of his anglers recently released an 800 lb. plus blue marlin CAUGHT WITH A CIRCLE HOOK! AUGUST 26, 1999 Capt. Ron Hamlin of the charter boat CAPT. HOOK, chartering out of Fins 'N Feathers Inn, Iztapa, Guatemala, reports 2283 releases for the year. He also reports a hook up ratio of 65%among his charter customers! Remember, folks, these are first time users of circle hooks! BAITMASTERS, OFFICIAL SUPPLIER OF BAIT FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGE OF CENTRAL AMERICA - COMPLETE LINE OF PREMIUM BAIT. CALL (305)758-8074 FOR INFORMATION. THEY WILL SHIP ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. AUGUST 16, 1999 Circle hooks are being used exclusively in Guatemala. Boats are reporting 90% hook up ratios with the use of the 7/0 Eagle Claw 2004 series. Capt. Harry's Fishing Supply will be carrying boxes of 50 hooks very soon. The boat captains at the recently held PCCA-Costa Rica kept records of fish hooked, lost and released. They claim that their percentages were the same as on "J" hooks. Anglers do loose fish! It is always easy to blame a new technique but in reality, the numbers were the same. Anglers who fished this event are applauded for their courage and committment to conservation. It is not easy being the first to take the plunge using a new technique in a tournament. We had 30 enthusiastic people who stepped forward to make history. THANK YOU ANGLERS! JULY 1,1999 - SEE THE JULY ISSUE OF SALT WATER SPORTSMAN - THERE IS A FEATURE ARTICLE ON CIRCLE HOOKS INCLUDING INSTRUCTIONS ON BAIT RIGGING. MAY 2, 1999 Our Circle Hook Campaign is off and running. Terri and Mike Andrews report that the crews at Tropic Star Lodge are learning to rig with the circle hooks donated by the Presidential Challenge and Eagle Claw. Capt. Richard Chellemi of the charter boat, Gamefisher II, Flamingo, Costa Rica, was supplied with 500 of these hooks. Richard is teaching the mates at Marina Flamingo how to rig so they will be prepared for our PCCA in July. If you would like to purchase a video on how to rig bait with the circle hook, please contact Artmarina, (305)663-3553. This short film was produced by Norm Isaacs of the ESPN show, Big Game Fishing the World, during his stay at Fins 'N Feathers Inn last November. It features Capt. Ron Hamlin and Norm discussing the circle hook concept. JANUARY 1, 1999: Capt. Ron Hamlin, fishing out of Fins N' Feathers Inn,Iztapa, Guatemala, released a grand total of 1100 billfish in 1998. 800 OF THESE FISH WERE CAUGHT USING CIRCLE HOOKS! Congratulation to Capt. Ron! See below for information on the use of the Circle Hook. The Presidential Challenge of Central America takes great pride in announcing that the 1999 Tournament Series will exclusively use circle hooks. Participants in the tournament were impressed to see the difference in fish mortality using the circle hook. Unfortunately, anglers tend to give longer drop backs during tournament in fear of not hooking their prey. This causes too many "gut hooked" fish. Although a study has never been conducted regarding fishing tournament mortality rates, many areas around the world have complained about dead billfish washing up on shore follow a high - catch tournament. It is a very unpleasant sight to see dead billfish floating by while you are out there trolling. The angler giving the long drop back is just as guilty of killing fish as the angler using live bait. The use of the circle hook is a giant step towards stopping tournament mortality. At this time, the Costa Rica and Guatemala legs will use exclusively circle hooks. We will work in Panama to instruct mates on the rigging techniques prior to the '99 event so hopefully, all three PCCA's will use this type of hook Tournament Director, Joan Vernon, was greatly impressed by the style and technique used in hooking fish using the circle hook. It is an easy style to learn. You still give a short drop back, similar to when you use a "Panama Strip Bait". When you feel the fish slow down, indicating that he has the bait in his mouth, you slowly ease up the drag lever and hold on tight. The most difficult thing about this techinique is ...you do not strike the fish! When the line comes tight, the bait slides toward the front of the fishes mouth, the hook turns and lodges in the corner of his mouth. Check this web site in a few weeks for pictures demonstrating the hook placement. The rigging of the bait is different and will take some practice. In order to assist anglers in learning these new techniques, the Presidential Challenge and Artmarina will sponsor seminars at the Miami Boat Show in February demonstrating both style and rigging. Capt. Ron Hamlin will be on hand to teach you how to use the circle hook. Start using the circle hook NOW....it works for trolling and live bait fishing. Eagle Claw makes a great laser sharpend circle hook available in most tackle stores. Use a 5/0 - 6/0 for Atlantic Sailfish...7/0 for Pacific Sailfish. If you have any questions please call Joan Vernon (305) 361-9258.