Sport fishing gets top marks from US anglers

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• The Billfish Foundation recommends conservation enforcement at sea

Marlins provide sport off Panama’s coasts.

Marlins provide sport off
Panama’s coasts.

Sport fishing plays a lucrative role in attracting tourists to Panama. According to a report published by The Billfish Foundation, a US conservationist no-profit, organization tourists who come to Panama to fish spend nearly $100 million a year on charter boats, fuel, food, lodging and other related expenses.

Panama ranked high among the U.S. anglers surveyed. They choose to fish in Panama because of its excellent fishing, reasonable cost of travel, safety, and availability of quality charter boats.

For every angler that has visited the country, eight more are interested in the country as a fishing destination. The report suggested that by enticing these fishermen who hear about the destination through word of mouth, an additional $776 million could be injected into the Panamanian economy.

Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation pointed out that sport fishing is a niche market that requires management: “One in four tourists that fished visited Panama just to fish. And for every 10 sport fishing visitors to Panama, another Panamanian job is supported. The country needs to maintain top notch fishing, which requires an abundance of fish in the water and that comes from good management and strong, well-enforced fisheries regulation.”

She added that it is paramount that government agencies continue to focus on implementing responsible management and conservation measures for marine fisheries and continue to restrain foreign purse seine and local longline vessels for the benefit of bill fish and all underwater species.

About the study

The report, called “Sport Fishing in Panama: A Natural Economic Gold Mine,” was conducted by Southwick Associates with the support of Vista-Group Panama, OCEARCH, TBF Scientist Dr. Russell Nelson and was financed by the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT).

The Billfish Foundation was founded in 1986 the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller along with Tim Choate, Dr. Eric Prince and a group of fifty founding members. TBF’s keystone program, the traditional tagging program, was begun in 1990. Today, it has grown to be the largest international billfish tagging program in the world.

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