The International Billfish Tournament, the longest consecutively held international billfish tournament in the world


August 11th 2011
IGFA Great Marlin Race to Open at the International Billfish Tournament

The San Juan International Billfish Tournament, held annually at Club Nàutico de San Juan in Puerto Rico, has long been known as a progressive and prestigious event. Tagging and releasing catches since 1988, the invitation-only IBT requires the use of circle hooks and has been an All-Release tournament since 2003. Now the longest continually-held billfish tournament in the world is doing even more to promote billfish conservation; the 58th annual IBT on September 4 – 11, 2011 will launch the new IGFA Great Marlin Race.

At its core, the IGFA Great Marlin Race is a conservation research program which combines the excitement of tournament angling with cutting-edge marine bio-logging science. In the days leading up to a billfish tournament, angling teams are invited to sponsor pop-up archival satellite tags (PATs) to be placed on fish caught and released during the event. One hundred and twenty days after each tag is deployed, it automatically releases itself from the fish – and its exact location is determined by earth- orbiting ARGOS satellites. In a given tournament, the tag that surfaces furthest from where it was initially deployed wins the race for that tournament. The IGFA Great Marlin Race will last 12 months, encompass many tournaments, and deploy 50 PATs on a variety of billfish species in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

“The data we gather from the deployed tags will give the fishery scientists and managers an incredible amount of information about these fish. The IGFA Great Marlin Race is one of the most ambitious conservation projects we’ve undertaken,” said IGFA President Rob Kramer, “and the high regard for conservation and sportsmanship at Club Nàutico makes the San Juan International Billfish Tournament a perfect place to launch it.”

“The goal of the program,” further explains IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser, “is to learn more about the basic biology of these magnificent fishes, and how they utilize the open ocean habitat. We also envision giving open access to the tagging data so that it can be utilized by scientists around the world.”

Tags record information about depth, temperature and light levels – which can be used to study their migrations and behaviors over the course of several months after they’ve been tagged. These data, in turn, will help scientists to identify key habitat areas where large numbers of fish spend significant portions of time – as well as the migratory corridors they use when they travel from place to place. Data from the PATs will be processed and disseminated via Stanford University in California and the lab of Professor of Marine Sciences Dr. Barbara Block.

Block pioneered the use of electronic tags on open ocean fishes in the early 1990’s. She was also one of the founders, along with IGFA Representative Bob Kurz, of the initial Great Marlin Race program – which was launched in 2009 in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona, Hawaii run by IGFA Trustee Peter Fithian.

“We are really excited about this new partnership between our organization and Stanford University,” explains Paxson Offield, chairman of the IGFA and long-term supporter of the Great Marlin Race. “By pairing top-notch science with tournament angling, we hope not only to learn more about the biology of the animals, but also to engage our constituents – billfish anglers around the world – in helping to conserve them for future generations.”

The winner of the IGFA Great Marlin Race in the San Juan International Billfish Tournament will receive a free entry into the next year’s tournament. The overall winner of the IGFA Great Marlin Race – the sponsor of the marlin whose tag travels the furthest of all - will be recognized at the annual IGFA International Auction and Banquet in January. Tournament anglers at Club Nàutico this September will lead the way for more sportsmen to join the IGFA Great Marlin Race and help the cause. With a great start at the San Juan International Billfish Tournament, the Race will be on to learn more about the ocean’s most magnificent fish.

To sponsor a tag, contact Ralph “Agie” Vicente at 787-405-1377.


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.

For further information, contact the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, Florida 33004; phone 954-927-2628, fax: 954-924-4299, website: