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Key scientific information to be shared at sixth International Billfish Symposium

By Staff | Aug 18, 2016

Ever since the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) was founded more than 75 years ago, one of the most important functions of the organization has been facilitating the sharing of scientific information on game fish species and their habitats. Connecting anglers and scientists to advance our collective knowledge and subsequent protection of game fish around the world has been, and continues to be, central to their core mission.

One of the ways they have accomplished this over the years is through organizing and hosting scientific symposia to provide a critical forum where the latest in game fish research and management can be exchanged.

In the mid-1970s, IGFA, along with several other prominent fishery organizations, started the Marine Recreational Fisheries Symposia series focusing on the importance of marine recreational fishing in the United States.

This annual convening of scientists, managers and anglers would go on for 11 years, paving the way for future conferences of its kind. In 1984, IGFA convened the first World Angling Conference in Cap d’Agde, France. This was the first international symposium of its kind, dedicated specifically to the pursuits and interest of recreational anglers.

Twenty-three years later in 2008, IGFA hosted the fifth World Recreational Fishing Conference. Like the event in Cap d’Agde, this conference brought together game fish experts from around the world to share information and collectively address some of the challenges we face internationally as an industry.

On Sept. 14-17, 2016, the IGFA is proud to host the sixth International Billfish Symposium at IGFA headquarters in Dania Beach, Florida. Recognizing that billfish were globally significant to both commercial and recreational fisheries, the inaugural International Billfish Symposium was held in Kona in August 1972.

Peter Fithian, IGFA trustee emeritus and founder of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament, played an important role in the first conference of its kind to focus solely on billfish species.

This conference, which was sponsored in part by the National Marine Fisheries Service, had over 60 scientists present from eight different countries presenting in four scientific sessions covering species identification, life history, distribution and fisheries.

Since that time, four other symposia have been held at the following locations: Kona, Hawaii, 1988; Cairns, Australia, 2001; Catalina Island, California, 2005; and Taipei, Taiwan, 2013.

Each symposium had been successful in building on the results presented and questions asked at previous ones.

They have also served as an effective mechanism for publishing billfish research, as conference proceedings have been published either in the form of technical reports or in peer-reviewed journals.

The International Billfish Symposium series is also somewhat unique in that recreational and commercial anglers are encouraged to not only attend but also present at special sessions.

So, please help spread the word about this important event. If you have an interest in billfish, they encourage you to attend as well. For the more we understand about these important game fish, the better equipped we are to manage and protect them.

Please visit bfsymposium.org/ to find out more about the sixth International Billfish Symposium.

(Harbor Report columnist Donnell A. Tate is the IGFA representative for Maui County.)