NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES MANAGEMENT REPRESENTATION
The world of modern fisheries management is a complex and oftentimes contentious environment. Many of our favorite recreational fisheries are imperiled due to habitat degradation and commercial overfishing. Sadly, recreational fishing interests often take a backseat to commercial fishing practices. The reason for this is simple. Commercial interests are much better represented on management and political levels. Recreational fishing as an ecologically friendly and economically viable alternative to unsustainable commercial fishing is a relatively new concept. Thus, it is vital that recreational anglers are represented during the fisheries management decision making process. Fisheries managers need to be shown that recreational fishing is a growing and vibrant entity of its own that has considerable participation and economic impact globally. This cannot be done without active participation and interaction with fisheries management.
IGFA is uniquely suited to function in this capacity both nationally and internationally. Several IGFA staff, representatives and trustees have experience participating in fisheries management. In the US alone, IGFA currently interacts with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel, National Coalition for Marine Conservation and NMFS Marine Fisheries Advisory Council. Internationally, IGFA has observer status with key regional fisheries organizations (RFMOs) such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, Western and Central Pacific Fishery Management Commission, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. These RFMOs are responsible for managing highly migratory species such as tunas, marlin, sailfish, sharks and swordfish. These species don’t know borders, so international cooperation is vital to their management and conservation. With more than 300 International Representatives in over 100 countries, IGFA is the recreational organization to represent angler interests at an international level.
COOPERATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH
IGFA takes an active role in partnering in cooperative research with governmental, academic, and private organizations to benefit fisheries conservation. Engaging anglers in collaborative research can not only help provide more and better data, but it also fosters relations between the angling and scientific communities. The following are few of IGFA’s research initiatives.
Bonefish, trevally, and shark tagging in the Pacific.
What do you get when you combine world-class anglers and world-class scientists? Well, world-class data, of course. The launching point for this research is the 186 foot vessel, Pangaea which will allow scientists to conduct research in remote areas. The first project was conducted by Drs. Alan Friedlander, Jennifer Caselle, Christopher Lowe and Yannis Papastamatiou and focused on simultaneous acoustic tracking of bonefish, giant trevally, blacktip sharks and twinspot snapper in Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef.
Palmyra and Kingman represent some of the last pristine coral environments in the world. They also exhibit the unique feature of having what’s called an “inverted food pyramid”. In a typical food pyramid, prey species form the base and are much more numerically dominant than predators occupying the apex levels. However the complete opposite occurs in Palmyra and Kingman, where predators outnumber prey.
These predator-dominated ecosystems are rare, owing to the extirpation of large apex-predators from most reefs worldwide. Understanding the role that sharks and other apex predators play is becoming even more important due to recent reports that predator populations are declining due to over-fishing, and it is unclear what effect this may have on prey populations and other dynamics of the marine communities.
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Circle hook research
This study evaluates the performance of two types of non-offset circle hooks (traditional and nontraditional) and a similar-sized _J_ hook commonly used in the south Florida recreational live-bait fishery for Atlantic sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw). A total of 766 sailfish were caught off south Florida (Jupiter to Key West, FL, USA) to assess hook performance and drop-back time, which is the interval between the fish’s initial strike and exertion of pressure by the fisher to engage the hook. Four drop-back intervals were examined (0–5, 6–10, 11–15 and >15 s), and hook performance was assessed in terms of proportions of successful catch, undesirable hook locations, bleeding events and undesirable release condition associated with physical hook damage and trauma. In terms of hook performance, the traditionally-shaped circle hook had the greatest conservation benefit for survival after release. In addition, this was the only hook type tested that performed well during each drop-back interval for all performance metrics. Conversely, J hooks resulted in higher proportions of undesirable hook locations (as much as twofold), bleeding and fish released in undesirable condition, particularly during long drop-back intervals. Non-traditional circle hooks had performance results intermediate to the other hook types, but also had the worst performance relative to undesirable release condition during the first two drop-back intervals. Choice of hook type and drop-back interval can significantly change hook wounding, and different models of non-offset circle hooks should not be assumed to perform equivalently.
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