by the IGFA
Ricardo Martinelli, President of the Republic of Panama, has been honored with the prestigious Conservation Award by the International Game Fish Association at the organization's 27th Annual International Auction & Banquet.
President Martinelli has recently taken bold steps to conserve and protect his country's fisheries. In July of 2010 the country prohibited tuna purse seining in its territory, and five months later, President Martinelli signed Executive Decree 486, prohibiting long-line vessels of over six tons from operating within Panama's waters. Panama was also the first of seven countries to restrict pelagic long-line gear, and stands today as a global leader in marine conservation policies.
It has been estimated that for every pound of fish harvested by US pelagic long-lines there is approximately .67 pounds of bycatch, and long-lines are responsible for killing thousands of marlin, sailfish and sharks each year. Purse seining around fish aggregating devices can result not only in high bycatch of billfish but also immature, undersized tunas which have not had the opportunity to spawn.
The annual IGFA Conservation Awards honor those individuals, representatives, organizations, and corporations who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the cause of conservation in the freshwater, saltwater, and fly fishing communities. Nominations for the awards may come from the IGFA's Fisheries Conservation Committee (FCC) as well as Trustees, Representatives, and IGFA members.
"Every year the IGFA has seen great strides in fisheries conservation in countries around the world thanks to the dedication of people like President Martinelli," IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser commented at the IGFA's awards ceremony. "There is still much work to be done, but our shared international vision for sustainable fisheries is an inspiration to everyone who believes in fisheries conservation."
Founded in 1939, the IGFA is a non-profit organized under Section 501(c)(3) under the Internal Revenue Code and is best known for conservation efforts of fisheries, educational programs, rule-making and for maintaining worldwide game fish records in freshwater, saltwater, fly fishing and junior angler categories. IGFA members are located in over 125 countries. The IGFA welcomes visitors to its 60,000-square-foot interactive Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Florida.