The Billfish Foundation’s (TBF) Tag and Release Program was established in 1990, and
the program is the foundation for The Billfish Foundation’s billfish conservation and advocacy
efforts. To date, this is the largest private billfish tagging database, with over 220,000 tag and
release reports recorded since its inception. These reports are recorded internationally and sent in
from different places around the globe, providing us with vital information for forwarding
billfish conservation in the future.
The base of TBF’s Tag and Release program is in the captains and anglers around the
world that take the time to voluntarily tag, release, and report their billfish catches every year. To
accomplish this, anglers and captains use traditional numbered tags to tag billfish. Upon tagging
the fish: the length, weight, species, location, and condition of the fish are recorded and sent to
TBF. The tagged fish will swim away carrying the spaghetti-like tag in its back until it is
recaptured in the future. Anyone can report a recaptured billfish.
When encountering a tagged billfish, clip the tag from the billfish and record the tag number. Additionally, record the billfish’s length, weight, condition, species, location of catch, and re-tag before release if
possible. Finally, call, email or mail in this information along with the tag number to The Billfish
Foundation! After a billfish has been tagged and eventually recaptured, these reports provide
TBF with valuable data that help further knowledge about billfish migration, growth rates,
habitat utilization, and other life cycle characteristics. This data would almost be impossible to
measure and record without the use of this traditional tagging program, making it vital to
developing conservation minded policy and furthering billfish conservation worldwide. Also,
this data helps show the socio-economic benefits from billfishing, and the impact it has on
regions and sport fishing communities.
Due to the Tag and Release program providing the basis for many of The Billfish
Foundation’s conservation efforts, TBF hosts an annual competition that awards the captains and
anglers that tag and release the most billfish every year. This competition is split up into multiple
categories, to acknowledge the fishermen who tag and release the most billfish by species in each
of the world’s oceans. Often the winners of these awards are some of the top crews and boats
from around the world. However, the strength of the Tag and Release program is that it is
available to everyone. Anyone can purchase the tags from The Billfish Foundation’s website and get involved with contributing to this important database. Participation from everyone is vital to
the success of the program, and TBF provides release certificates for all those who report billfish
tag and releases. TBF encourages everyone to get involved with this program and help
contribute to this amazing sport that is billfishing!