International Game Fish Association
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is the largest recreational fishing association in the world. IGFA is the keeper of the most current world record catches organized by fish categories and species. Sport fishermen are careful to follow their stringent rules for fair play and line requirements in order to receive the honor of being listed in their annual “World Record Game Fishes" publication.
Scientific institutions, fishing clubs, fishing associations, and individual anglers came together to establish the IGFA at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in 1939. These handful of anglers were inspired to make recreational fishing a reputable global sport by establishing universal codes of ethics of the game. One notable officer was Ernest Hemingway.
Currently, the IGFA headquarters is located at Dania Beach, Florida, U.S., with three hundreds representatives from ninety countries. The IGFA is also an ardent proponent of aquatic habitat conservation, and cooperates with scientific institutions and organizations for sustainable fishing. They seek to be an international organization that represents anglers, educates people about the values of fishing, and pursues methods of sustainable sport fishing which includes conservation of aqua life and their environment.
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Before 1939, there was no universal code of sporting ethics to guide ocean anglers in their pursuits. Some rules pertaining to sporting conduct were in effect at certain well-established fishing clubs but they varied according to the dictates of each club. The idea of a worldwide association of marine anglers had been brewing for some time in England, Australia, and the United States, and the first steps in this direction were taken in the late 1930’s by members of the British Tunny Club who hoped to establish headquarters in England to formulate rules for ethical angling. The threat of war, however, interrupted their plans.
At that same time, Michael Lerner was organizing a fishing expedition to the waters of Australia and New Zealand in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He heard of the British Tunny Club’s plans, and when he arrived in Australia he looked up one of the country’s finest anglers, Clive Firth, to discuss the idea with him. Firth was well aware of the angling feats of fishermen from [[California], Florida, Long Island, and others. He felt that England and her colonies would accept American judgment as sporting and impartial, and that Americans should be the ones to devise and administer these ethical angling rules.
Dr. William King Gregory, head of the Departments of Ichthyology and Comparative Anatomy at the American Museum of Natural History, also was a member of the Australia-New Zealand expedition. He was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of a worldwide sport fishing association headquartered in the United States, and immediately suggested that it might be possible to affiliate such an organization with the Museum. His interest in such an association and the information it could provide to scientists was the beginning of IGFA’s lasting connection with scientists and scientific institutions.
When the members of the Australia-New Zealand expedition returned to the U.S., letters were written to outstanding anglers, fishing clubs, and tackle manufacturers soliciting their opinions regarding the formation of an international association of marine angling clubs. The response was highly favorable and on June 7, 1939, the International Game Fish Association was formally launched in a meeting held at the American Museum of Natural History. Present were William King Gregory (who became the first president of the association), Michael Lerner, angler/writer Van Campen Heilner, and Francesca LaMonte, Associate Curator of Fishes for the Museum and science leader of several of the Lerner expeditions.
Another immediate task was to notify scientific institutions and fishing clubs throughout the world about IGFA, its activities and intentions. By January 1940, only a few months after that first meeting, there were two associated scientific institutions, 10 member clubs, and 12 overseas representatives. By 1948, the numbers had grown to 10 scientific institutions, 80 member clubs, and IGFA representatives in 41 areas of the world. Clive Firth of Australia was elected IGFA’s first overseas representative, and others were chosen in Nigeria, New Zealand, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, the Canal Zone, Cuba, Hawaii, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Among the first associated clubs were the Catalina Tuna Club, Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club, Cape Breton Big Game Anglers Association, Long Island Tuna Club, Atlantic City Tuna Club, Freeport Tuna Club, and Beach Haven Tuna Club.
As news of the IGFA spread, other noted sportsmen and scientists were drawn to its administration. Among the early officers were Ernest Hemingway, Philip Wylie, B. David Crowninshield, and Charles M. Breder, Jr., who served as Chairman of the Committee on Scientific Activities.
Michael Lerner financed the operations of the International Game Fish Association from its inception, and when Dr. Gregory retired from the Museum staff in 1944, Lerner took over responsibility for the IGFA presidency as well. Since then, William K. Carpenter, Elwood K. Harry, Michael Leech, and Rob Kramer have served as IGFA presidents. The physical location of IGFA headquarters changed as well through the last six decades: In the late 1950s IGFA moved from New York to Florida, first to Miami, then in 1967 to Fort Lauderdale, in 1992 to Pompano Beach, and in 1999 to the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach.
However, two of the most significant events affecting the association since 1939 occurred in the 1970s. Early in that decade E. K. Harry, then IGFA vice president, proposed opening the organization to individual membership to insure its continued funding, unify international anglers, and inform a much larger audience of the problems threatening fishery resources. Then, in 1978, Field & Stream magazine officially turned over its record-keeping responsibilities to IGFA. Thus IGFA, is now the membership-driven organization that IGFA is today, responsible for all saltwater and freshwater world records and for spreading awareness of fishery and conservation issues to fishermen around the world.
IGFA's objectives are founded on the beliefs that game fish species, related food fish, and their habitats are valuable economic, social, recreational, and aesthetic assets. Furthermore, they emphasize that the sport of angling is an important recreational, economic, and social activity that must be pursued in a manner consistent with sound sporting and conservation practices.
Organization & structure
The International Game Fish Association is a nonprofit, tax exempt organization, supported by its membership and governed by an Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. An elected International Committee of more than 300 sport fishermen and women represents the IGFA in fishing areas throughout the world. International Committee members act as liaisons between recreational fishermen, fishing clubs, local governments and fishery agencies in their areas and IGFA headquarters.
Objectives, Projects, and Services
The purpose of IGFA, as set forth in the early bylaws, is: "To encourage the study of game fishes for the sake of whatever pleasure, information, or benefit it may provide; to keep the sport of game fishing ethical, and to make its rules acceptable to the majority of anglers; to encourage this sport both as recreation and as a potential source of scientific data; to place such data at the disposal of as many human beings as possible; and to keep an attested and up-to-date chart of world record catches." The founding fathers of IGFA—including such sportfishing greats as Michael Lerner, Van Campen Heilner, Clive Firth, and Ernest Hemingway—obviously had foresight; the basic purposes they set forth have increased in importance through the years. Today's IGFA has not changed these goals; rather it has brought them to the attention of the angling public, enlarged upon them, added to them, and adapted them to the current and increasing needs of the sportfishing community.
World record keeping
IGFA maintains and publishes world records for saltwater, freshwater, fly fishing catches, U.S. state freshwater records, and junior angler records, awarding certificates of recognition to each record holder. Recognized as the official keeper of world saltwater fishing records since 1939, IGFA entered the field of freshwater record keeping when Field & Stream transferred its 68 years of records to the association in 1978.
International angling regulations
The equipment and fishing regulations adopted worldwide are formulated, updated, and published by IGFA to promote sporting angling practices, to establish uniform rules for world record catches, and to provide angling guidelines for use in tournaments and other group fishing activities.
IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum
Provides the world's most comprehensive assemblage of sportfishing information, exhibits, educational classes, fishing demonstrations, interactive displays and virtual reality fishing. Walk in to the 60,000 square foot museum's main entrance and visitors are seemingly immersed in an underwater world filled with fish. There are 170 species of game fish that earned world record status suspended overhead with informational plates on date of catch, angler, place, and so on, displayed on the floor under each fish. The largest mount is Alfred Dean's 2,664 lb great white shark caught in Australia in 1959.
E.K. Harry Library of Fishes
Established in 1973 in response to the need for a permanent repository for angling literature, history, films, art, photographs, and artifacts, this library houses the most comprehensive collection in the world on game fish, angling, and related subjects.
IGFA has continuously supported scientific tagging and other data collection programs, and works closely with fishery biologists in order to exchange information and relay to anglers the particular needs and results of research and conservation efforts.
IGFA serves as consultant to administrative and legislative bodies around the world in order to ensure that the angler is fairly represented in decisions concerning the management of game fish populations and other issues which affect the future of recreational fishing.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Dance, Bill. IGFA's 101 Freshwater Fishing Tips and Tricks. New York: Skyhorse Pub, 2007. ISBN 9781602390003.
- Gottschalk, John S. Management of Wilderness Area Waters: A Symposium. Washington: The Society, 1976.
- International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The Convention of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Washington: International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 1976.
- International Association of Game, Fish, and Conservation Commissioners. Public Land Policy Impact on Fish and Wildlife; A Response to the Public Land Law Review Commission's Report "One Third of the Nation's Land.". 1971.
- International Game Fish Association, National Coalition for Marine Conservation, Sport Fishing Institute, and Marine Recreational Fisheries Symposium. Marine Recreational Fisheries. Washington, D.C.: Sport Fishing Institute, 1976.
- International Game Fish Association. A History of IGFA. Fort Lauderdale, FL: International Game Fish Association, 1980.
- International Game Fish Association. Ichthyological Contributions of the International Game Fish Association. New York: International Game Fish Association, 1941.
- International Game Fish Association. The International Angler. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: The Association, 1981.
- International Game Fish Association. World Record Game Fishes. Fort Lauderdale, FL: International Game Fish Association, 1979.
- International Game Fish Association. World Record Game Fishes: The Official Guide to World Sportfishing Records and International Angling Rules, Containing: Freshwater Records, Saltwater Records, Saltwater Fly Rod Records. Fort Lauderdale, FL: International Game Fish Association, 1979.
- Marine Recreational Fisheries Symposium. Marine Recreational Fisheries. Washington: Sport Fishing Institute, 1976.
All links retrieved March 4, 2018.
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