Our lodge has been in existence for over five decades and we are years ahead on our conservation efforts. Tropic Star was not only the first fishing resort to begin releasing all roosterfish for the last eight years, but more recently, all Cubera snapper (with very few exceptions).
Tropic Star’s CEO, Terri Andrews (a longtime IGFA Trustee along with Dr. Guy Harvey) universally adopted the use of circle hooks in the early nineties to improve the survival rates of released fish. Terri and her husband Mike created the CONAMAR Foundation (Foundation for the Conservancy of the Sea, Nature and Marine Species) back in 1994. The foundation, along with various leaders of Panama have been responsible for establishing a 20-mile non-commercial fishing zone around the plentiful waters off Pinas Bay and also a billfish decree that protects all billfish from being killed commercially.
In 2010, Panama secured a national decree that banned large-scale purse seines from Panamanian waters. This set the standard for other Central American countries. Past President, Ernesto Perez Balladares won the IGFA conservation award for the country of Panama.
The biggest obstacle now is the enforcement of the laws already in place. This is one of the many challenges that the new President, Juan Carlos Varela is facing while continuing to improve the conservation efforts and enforcement in the Republic of Panama.
Blue Marlin Habitat Defined in Three Hot Spots by University of Miami/CABA Researchers
The University of Miami Billfish Research Program has been deploying numerous pop-off satellite archival tags (PSATs) on blue marlin off the coast of Central America in partnership with the Central American Billfish Association (CABA). Results of the experiments were integrated with data made available to use by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) from tags deployed as a part of their International Great Marlin Race. Blue marlin satellite tag migration tracks depict three areas of high residency, or preference, and their movements around ‘hotspots’, much like oceanic highways for blue marlin.
In conjunction with the satellite tagging data, UM Billfish scientists analyzed historical catch and effort data from industrial longline fisheries (contributed by the Secretariat of Pacific Communities and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission). Data selected from the 1950’s and 1960’s prior to major proliferation of industrial longlining (as color image above), gives an insight on the relatively undisturbed abundance distribution of the species before overexploitation took place. The collaborative tagging data for the period 2010-2016 (track trajectories in image above) depicts movement trajectories and habitat preferences that still correspond to those of the blue marlin’s undisturbed population abundance distribution, underlining the importance of three major hotspots. These hotspots include the waters around French Polynesia in the sub-equatorial central Pacific, the waters around the Hawaiian Island chain, and the eastern Pacific off Central America to the Galapagos Islands. The UM research team formed by Drs. Nelson Ehrhardt and Mark Fitchett and PhD Candidates Bruce Pohlot and Julie Brown is unlocking information on the physical and biological importance of these three hotspots- not only in terms of recent tagging data, but also in concurrence with historical significance of the exploited population dynamics of blue marlin extracted from fishery data. For more information, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These research efforts are supported by the recreational billfish fishing community and by those individuals that believe in marine conservation.