IGFTO Highlights - Past, Present & Future


IGFTO is truly international.   A little over half of our members come from Florida, but 32% come from the rest of the country (12% the Midwest and West, 10% the South, and 10% New England).  Five (5) percent of our members come from outside the United States.

Tournament Participation

Since our inception 8 years ago, the IGFTO has witnessed the release of over 33,000 billfish and incurred approximately one million dollars of personal expense in order to observe and conserve the species for future generations.

  • In 2016, IGFTO sent 133 observers to 11 billfish tournaments in Florida, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Aruba and San Salvador.  Our observers participated along with 305 boats in releasing a total of 9,133 billfish.  Among these were 8,841 sailfish, 226 blue marlin, and 66 white marlin.  Our observers collectively received high mark from their captains for their hard work.

  • In 2015, observers witnessed the release of 7,127 billfish, including 6,666 sailfish, 309 blue marlin, 147 white marlin, 1 black marlin, 2 striped marlin and 2 spearfish.

  • In 2014, observers witnessed the release of 7,724 billfish, including 7,077 sailfish; 384 blue marlin; 258 white marlin, 3 striped marlin, 1 striped marlin and 1 black marlin while observing in 18 tournaments in 8 countries in the Caribbean, US Virgin Islands, Central America and the United States.

  • In 2013, IGFTO members participated in 10 catch & release tournaments in 6 countries. During that year, observers witnessed the safe release of 3,387 billfish of which 207 were blue marlin, 122 white marlin, 5 striped marlin and 3,050 sailfish.

  • In 2012, IGFTO members participated in 13 catch & release tournaments in 7 countries. During that year, observers witnessed the safe release of 2,454 billfish of which 254 were blue marlin, 197 white marlin, 3 black marlin, 9 striped marlin and 1,994 sailfish.

  • In 2011, IGFTO members participated in 10 catch & release tournaments in 7 countries. this year, observers witnessed the safe release of 1,273 billfish of which 203 were blue marlin, 278 white marlin, 7 striped marlin, 1 spearfish and 784 sailfish.

  • In 2010 and the last four months of 2009, IGFTO members participated in 10 catch & release tournaments in 7 countries and observers witnessed the safe release of 1,987 billfish.

International Tournament Directors recognize the importance of tag and release venues and the IGFTO anticipates participation in at least 11 tournaments in 2017.

Additional Highlights:

  • IGFTO donated $2,500 to The Billfish Foundation Tag and Release program in 2016, $1,000 to the Presidential Challenge Charitable Foundation, and an additional donation to ABROQUEN, an organization devoted to aiding burn victims in Central America.

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application by International Game Fish Tournament Observers for a registered trademark under class 42: Inspecting tackle, fishing equipment, and fish to ensure compliance with tournament standards and the safe re-lease of bill fish during catch and release tournaments.

  • IGFTO Directors Nick Noonan and Greg Moore retired from the board this year but remain active observers in the organization. Art McDonald, a charter member of the IGFTO, was elected VP & Director. Art has held a USCG Captain's License for over 40 years, completed the IGFA certified training program in 2006 and has owned and captained numerous sport fishing boats.

  • Developed an IGFTO observer written test application for experienced anglers and captains.

  • IGFTO upgraded its website to promote the organization's mission and to increase the communication among observers and tournament directors. Prospective IGFTO observers may apply online. 

In the Past:

IGFTO Observers have participated in 63 International Billfish Tournaments in 11 Countries (USA, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, USVI, Aruba, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.)

Our future plans include:

  • Expanding membership of trained observers and increasing IGFTO observer presence in international billfish tournaments.
  • Launching an effort to convert existing “kill" tournaments venues to a tag & release format.

  • Attracting corporate sponsors to support the IGFTO mission of promoting the preservation of game fish during international billfish tournaments.

  • Attaining recognition as a sponsor of international game fish & billfish tournament.

  • Revising marketing brochures and banners for distribution at tournaments, boat shows and other events.

  • Creating a continuing education test for IGFTO observers.