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Annual IGFA Great Marlin Race crowns remarkable journey in Billfish Conservation

by IGFA 21 Oct 2023 07:13 UTC

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), a global leader in game fish conservation, is proud to announce the results of its annual IGFA Great Marlin Race.

Taking place from October 1 - September 30 each year, the IGFA Great Marlin Race is an unprecedented billfish research and conservation initiative that allows recreational anglers, armed with cutting-edge satellite tag technology, to become citizen scientists and deploy tags on the billfish they catch. A collaboration between the IGFA and the lab of Dr. Barbara Block at Stanford University, the tags transmit invaluable information to researchers who analyze and disseminate the data, leading to a better understanding of these incredible animals and how to better manage them.

Since its launch in 2011, the IGFA Great Marlin Race has fundamentally changed the way that scientists, anglers, and policymakers understand billfish migration patterns and habitat utilization, helping secure the future of these dynamic species for generations to come. To date, the IGFA Great Marlin Race has deployed nearly 600 satellite tags on billfish around the world, making it the largest program of its kind.

This year, a total of 59 satellite tags were deployed across five billfish species during 23 global tagging events. While some tags are set to provide data for the 2023-2024 race, 29 tags surfaced during this year's race, revealing fascinating migration patterns and distances. The IGFA is excited to declare that the winner of the 2022-2023 IGFA Great Marlin Race is Waste Knot, a top supporter of the program. The victorious tag was deployed during the 2022 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament by tag sponsors Scott and Ven Poole aboard Waste Knot captained by Michael Tickle.

Demonstrating an extraordinary journey, the winning blue marlin, caught by Ven and tagged by Scott, traveled an impressive straight-line distance of 4,149 nautical miles (nm) from the US East Coast to the coast of Brazil. This incredible journey is not just this year's longest but also ranks as the 5th longest in the program's history and the 3rd longest for a blue marlin, with a total estimated track of 7,819 nm.

The runner-up, a blue marlin tagged aboard Stream Weaver during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, sponsored by Bonze Lures, and tagged by Bobby Schlegel, marked a straight distance of 2,543 nm, with an estimated total track of 3,689 nm. The third place was claimed by a striped marlin tagged off New Zealand, sponsored and deployed by the crew of Trident, which traveled 1,545 nm in just 85 days.

These remarkable distances are not just numbers but represent the critical data contributing to our understanding of billfish behavior, life history, and migratory patterns, integral to their conservation and the health of our oceans.

"The IGFA Great Marlin Race was established to involve the angling community in citizen science," said IGFA President, Jason Schratwieser. "By coupling competitive spirit with conservation, we're able to gather invaluable data that helps ensure the survival of these magnificent species. This year's winners exemplify the heart of this program: a deep commitment to conservation and the betterment of sport fishing."

This year's IGFA Great Marlin Race has shed light on unprecedented migratory patterns, especially the southern journey of the winning blue marlin, the first of its kind recorded by the research program. These insights are crucial for the development of effective conservation strategies, ensuring these species thrive for future generations.

The IGFA extends hearty congratulations to the winners and expresses profound gratitude to all participants and supporters of the 2022-2023 IGFA Great Marlin Race. Their contributions solidify the legacy of sport fishing and emphasize the pivotal role anglers play in billfish conservation.

The IGFA Great Marlin Race, proudly presented by Costa Sunglasses, is made possible through the generous support of sponsors AFTCO and Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's Outdoor Fund. For more information on the IGFA Great Marlin Race or to participate in future events, please visit www.igfa.org/the-great-marlin-race.

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