Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

David Die - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Liana McManus - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Amie Nielsen - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Dave Kelly - Committee Member

Fifth Committee Member

Juan Agar - Committee Member


Atlantic billfish include sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), white marlin (Kajikia albida, formerly Tetrapturus albidus) and the spearfishes (Tetrapturus); these fishes are found in tropical and subtropical waters. The spearfishes include the longbill spearfish (T. pfluegeri), the Mediterranean spearfish (T. belone) and the roundscale spearfish (T. georgii). The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is the regional fishery management organization that conducts research to determine the condition of tuna and billfish resources and supports international cooperative management. ICCAT has determined that blue marlin and white marlin are overfished; the status of sailfish and spearfish are unknown, but overfishing is thought to be occurring. Management of these resources is complicated by uncertainty in the biological models, but uncertainty about the fishers who target these resources. This dissertation studied artisanal fishing fleets that target Atlantic billfish in Venezuela and Ghana, as well as studied recreational charter boat fishing fleets in South Florida and Senegal. The information from these fleets was used to develop performance indicators that evaluate the socioeconomic performance of these fleets. An allocation model was developed to determine the optimal allocation of billfish resources among recreational and artisanal fishers in Ghana, West Africa. Finally, the issues and challenges of managing Atlantic billfish were identified as well as a possible future framework. Results indicate that performance indicators can be used to contrast fleets with different operational objectives. Fishers do produce positive fishing profits in both artisanal and recreational fleets; however, Senegalese recreational anglers are particularly sensitive to fuel costs. Results of the allocation model suggest that the artisanal sector should be allocated 95% of the quota in Ghana. There is the possibility to over-allocate quota to the recreational sector due to methodological differences in determining benefit f and the practice of catch-and-release. ICCAT's limited purview over socioeconomics was identified as the major impediment to effective billfish management. Therefore, it is recommended that the institutional structure for billfish management be modified to include socioeconomic issues, most especially strengthening the link to local institutions in fishing communities.


Recreational Fisheries; Artisanal Fisheries; Atlantic Billfish; Venezuela; Florida; Socioeconomics; Fishery Management; Senegal; Ghana