MANAGUA, Nicaragua — After nearly a year, all seven countries of Central America have approved an agreement with The Billfish Foundation to create a sustainable management plan for billfish and other popular game fish vital to growing sport fishing and tourism in the region.
The announcement comes on the heels of similar on-going work this past year by TBF of enhancing recreational sport fishing in the countries of Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica. TBF has been working with the governments — some for more than a decade — for the expansion of conservation measures and laws to protect billfish,
mainly from overfishing coastal fisheries by commercial interests, while implementing tag & release programs for sportsmen.
The Billfish Foundation's Dr. Russell Nelson and Herbert Nanne met in Managua, Nicaragua in late February to formally adopt a Central American agreement to develop a sustainable management plan for marlins, sailfish, dorado, swordfish and other highly migratory species important to the regions' sport fishing tourism sectors. The agreement between TBF and the Organization of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the Isthmus of Central America (OSPESCA) was signed by OSPESCA President Steadman Fagoth Muller, of Nicaragua, and Nelson. OSPESCA Executive Director Mario Gonzalez Recino presided over the ceremony and along with Nelson presented the Nicaraguan Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture with a computer and programs for use in collecting and analyzing sport fisheries data.
Nanne is TBF's Central American Conservation Director and Nelson is its scientific director. Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama make up the seven countries in the region, all members of OSPESCA.
"This agreement between TBF, OSPESCA and the seven nations of Central America was created and approved by all parties over the past 10 months," said TBF President Ellen Peel. "We now look forward to the hard work of establishing a regional data collection protocol and moving on with improved conservation measures for billfish in the region."
The text of the agreement can be found in Spanish and English at www.billfish.org. "There are so many positives to working with OSPESCA and its seven member nations in developing a management program in the region that can be a win-win for all," said Nelson. "Billfish have a very high potential in these waters and high economic and social value if the responsible practice of sport fishing ethics and conservation are fostered."
Established in 1986 by the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller, The Billfish Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to conserving and enhancing billfish populations worldwide. With world headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., USA, TBF's comprehensive network of members and supporters includes anglers, captains, mates, tournament directors, clubs, sport fishing and tourism businesses. By coordinating efforts and speaking with one voice, the organization works for solutions that are good for billfish, not punitive to recreational anglers and good for the local economy. TBF's phone number is 800-438-8247.