IGFA Praises Passing of Billfish Conservation Act

October 8, 2012

NOTE: The IGFA released the following statement in response to President Obama signing of the Billfish Conservation Act:

Today, President Obama signed the the Billfish Conservation Act into law, effectively banning the importation of all billfish into the continental United States. The signing marks the culmination of a united undertaking by a diverse coalition of angling and conservation organizations working in cooperation with a bipartisan group of congressional champions. Although there are no commercial fisheries targeting billfish in the US, the US has been the largest importer of billfish in the world, importing about 30,000 billfish annually.

“This is a tremendous success for these highly migratory species,” National Coalition for Marine Conservation President (NCMC) Ken Hinman said. “Marlin, sailfish, and spearfish do not know country boundaries and travel through three of the planet’s oceans. Giving them greater protection in the United States sets the stage for better protection worldwide.”

With the largest buyer out of the market, the NCMC and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), who championed the bill, will now turn their attention to the international challenges facing these imperiled species. And with populations of three species of marlin having declined by more than 50%, their efforts come not a moment too soon.

“Recreational anglers and ocean conservationists have been the primary supporters behind the Billfish Conservation Act,” IGFA President Rob Kramer commented, “and I am confident that with this strong step by the United States, we will be able to raise support for more robust measures elsewhere.”

The support of the Billfish Conservation Act by groups like the American Sportfishing Association, the Center for Coastal Conservation, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep America Fishing, the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, OCEARCH and numerous partners in the environmental community played an integral part in the bill’s success.

“We have sound science that indicates that billfish are not doing well on a global level,” IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser added. “Better international protection for these fish benefits open ocean ecosystems and recreational anglers around the world.”

Florida Sea Grant Announces Five 2012 Guy Harvey Scholarship Recipients

February 7, 2012

February 2, 2012 (Gainesville, FL) – A record five graduate students at universities in Florida have been awarded $5,000 scholarships as winners of the Guy Harvey Scholarship Award, recognizing their outstanding achievement in marine science research.

The winners are Felipe Carvalho and Sarah Stephens, University of Florida; M. Laura Habegger, University of South Florida; Sean Bignami, University of Miami; and Kier Smith, Florida Atlantic University.

The scholarship, established in 2010 through a partnership between Florida Sea Grant and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, recognizes students at Florida universities whose research focuses on novel strategies for improving sustainable management of large marine fish and sharks.

“Originally, the Guy Harvey Foundation had planned on providing two scholarships,” says Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens. “However, when they saw the high quality of applicants, the foundation was tremendously generous in deciding to support the research of five students.

“Clearly the innovative work proposed by these students will have major impacts in regard to meeting the objective of the award.”

Since the award was established three years ago, $24,000 in scholarships has been given to six students at Florida universities. Recipients also receive a certificate designed and signed by well-known marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.

Synopsis of the Winning Applications

Carvalho is conducting research related to the management of blue shark populations in the Atlantic Ocean. His research is about supporting the training of scientists and technicians to use remote sensing methods to track movement of these large predators.

Stephens is working with fishing guides in three Caribbean regions to teach them how to use dart tags to track the movements of permit, working in cooperation with the Bonefish Tarpon Trust.

Habegger is studying how the principles of physics and engineering can be used to understand the role of the bill when billfishes feed, in hopes of discovering practical management strategies, such as specialized fishing gear that reduces by-catch in commercial fisheries, or reduces stress on billfish caught in recreational tournaments.

Bignami is studying how the changing chemistry of marine waters as a result of ocean acidification might affect the early development of large marine fish, using mahi mahi and cobia as case studies.

Smith is developing and testing a method for treating fishing hooks with a graphite and zinc mixture which in preliminary tests appears to be effective in keeping sharks from biting the hooks. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of sharks caught in long-line commercial fisheries.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators that emphasizes sensible strategies for promoting ocean conservation and the development of the next generation of marine scientists. The foundation funds research and educational programs developed by universities, colleges, institutes and nonprofit organizations.

Click here to learn more about the Guy Harvey Scholarship and the work of its past winners.