Billfish are challenging to study in part due to the wide geographical area that makes up their habitat and their complex migration patterns. These qualities also make it difficult to conserve and manage billfish stocks. The data provided by traditional billfish tagging programs endeavors to fill in knowledge gaps surrounding growth rate, migration patterns and habitat usage at a relatively low cost. Data was gathered for this study from the National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA's Cooperative Tagging Center , as well as commentary provided that indicates the percentage of billfish being released has increased over the last three decades. In contrast, The Billfish Foundation (TBF), who maintains the largest private billfish tagging database, shows a decrease in the amount of fish being tagged.
This internship report will focus on tag and release activity within the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of western North Atlantic. A survey was distributed to billfish anglers in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Orange Beach, Alabama, as well as by email to TBF members. The primary objective of the survey was to reveal indications that explain the decline in tagging. Of 126 surveys that were completed, 83% of the respondents who no longer tag, indicated that better information about how their data is being used would be the incentive needed to return to tagging. Although the survey didn't yield the precise results intended, perhaps almost as important, it did reveal which factors were not causing the decline. Combined with valuable demographic information gathered, the results will benefit the cultivation of approaches designed to gain new membership as well as encourage current members to continue their participation.
Katz, Adrienne M., "A qualitative analysis of billfish angling relative to tagging practices in the Western Atlantic Ocean" (2014). Internship Reports (Restricted). 142.
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