During 20-24 April 2018, Pacific Fins organized the 3rd Annual Celebrity PRO-AM Fishing Tournament. As part of the tournament, Pacific Fins instituted an annual satellite tagging event to support the billfish research efforts of University of Miami researchers Dr. Nelson Ehrhardt, and Doctoral Candidates Bruce Pohlot and Julie Brown.
The research aims at understanding behavior of billfish subjected to catch-and-release with the purpose of improving recreational fish handling and revival before release. This research is critically important due to the very shallow depth of the minimum Dissolved Oxygen (DO2) layer compressing the billfish habitat off Guatemala. Billfish cannot maintain sufficient oxygen for survival below the minimum DO2 layer. Oceanographic data collected by the investigators during the time of the tournament shows that minimum DO2 for survivorship of billfish was less than 7 meters (21 ft) from the surface; therefore, it is intuitive that if released fish is not properly handled it may enter the low DO2 region before it can regain normal behavior and become available to recreational fishing.
In addition, the results of the research will measure the percent retention of the tagged fish by local coastal longliners that operate in the same area shared with the recreational fishing industry. Satellite tagged fish that escape handling mortality and longlining will explain the origin and destination of the billfish that are caught in this important tournament. Results of the April 2018 tagging event generated a large database that is still being analyzed and results will be presented at the next Celebrity PRO-AM Tournament in May 2019. Pacific Fins gratefully acknowledges the funding contributions to obtain the satellite tags, mostly provided by Tournament participants and Celebrities.