The Billfish Foundation


Mission Statement

Working worldwide to advance the conservation of Billfish & associated species to improve the health of oceans & economies.


The Billfish Foundation (TBF) was founded in 1986 with a mission of conserving billfish worldwide by the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller along with Dr. Eric Prince and a group of fifty founding members. TBF’s keystone program, the traditional tagging program, was begun in 1990. Today, it has grown to be the largest international billfish tagging program in the world.
TBF’s initial focus was on research and educational programs. In 1990, TBF’s focus was expanded to include advocacy for responsible fisheries management, recognizing that influencing decision makers with sound science was a crucial step in successful billfish conservation.
The Billfish Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Program Details

The Billfish Foundation is recognized globally and has continued to distinguish itself from other fish conservation organizations through a sustained emphasis on synthesizing science and policy into effective, yet reasonable, fishery management solutions- solutions that are good for the fish but not punitive to recreational anglers.Since its inception, TBF has been central to the following:
  • Advancement and improvement of stock assessments for Atlantic and Pacific billfish;
  • Transition of the recreational billfish fishery to catch/tag/release;
  • Management and conservation regulations that prohibit the commercial retention and sale of Atlantic billfish in the U.S.;
  • Socioeconomic studies to establish a value for billfish species left alive in the water;
  • Scientific conference that brought scientists from around the world to focus on the role billfish serve in the ecosystem;
  • Area closed to longline gear to protect crucial nursery habitat for fish and sea turtles;
  • Adoption of the use of non-offset circle hooks;
  • Prohibition of the commercial retention and sale of marlin in Peru;
  • Agreement with Central American nations to develop a comprehensive management plan for billfish and other species that migrate throughout the eastern Pacific region;
  • Advancement of stock assessment methodology science for all highly migratory fish (TBF leads the world in this research);
  • Development and maintenance of the world’s largest, most comprehensive private international billfish database;
  • Implementation of regulations moderating the commercial tuna and swordfish longline and purse seine vessels, which represent a major source of billfish mortality;
  • Assessment of marine habitat in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that are oxygen depleted; and
  • Development of a recreational fishing data collection system within the seven Central American countries of the Panamanian Isthmus.
In 2019, with our membership support it strengthens our collective voice for the fish and sportfishing, a strong voice that achieved successes in 2019, including the following.
  1. Successfully stopped the second attempt by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to authorize pelagic longline fishing inside U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic Ocean closed for 19 and 20 years because of pelagic longline overfishing. Only one species in the closed waters, among many, has recovered, swordfish, even so the federal government wants to wipe out the accrued conservation benefits for billfish and the other species.
  2. In the Pacific Ocean an expressed interest by a federal council to authorize longline fishing in international waters off California was stopped.
  3. Internationally we called out nations failing to report data for recreationally landed billfish in violation of an important international fishery management measure.
  4. Deployed satellite tags on Atlantic blue marlin in the Gulf of Mexico to collect movement data, horizontal and vertical, so better insight can be gained on whether some marlin remain in the Gulf’s warm waters around oil rigs, where abundant prey species are found year round. Once tag data is received and analyzed, results will be shared.
  5. Completed the most comprehensive Atlantic blue marlin age and growth study to help advance aging techniques for improving the efficiency of estimating stock abundance.
  6. Continued development of a Swordfish Distribution Model, which will identify, based on a variety of data, where swordfish are located at different times throughout a year, which usually identifies a critical life stage area, like pre-spawning, spawning, juvenile nursery areas, etc.
  7. Announced the availability of a scholarship for a student pursuing PhD level billfish research.
  8. Released our 2019 Conservation record that highlights all of the tag, release, and recapture data from the past year.
  9. Begun a juvenile billfish project which should generate a wealth of information on juvenile life history, which can help reduce uncertainty in future assessment models.
Primary Issue
Secondary Issue
5100 N FEDERAL HWY, STE 200, STE 200
United States
Social Media Links