The International Game Fish Association is the most widely recognized authority on game fish and angling-related matters in the world. It is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rulemaking, recordkeeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling. The IGFA was established in 1939 and is headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida.
Sports Destination Management: There are multiple organizations and event owners in sport fishing. What makes the IGFA unique?
Jack Vitek: The IGFA was established at a time when there were several prominent angling groups around the world from Australia to Canada to the United Kingdom. They all had different rules when it came to setting and recording records. The IGFA was created in order to establish an international governing body, to keep track of world records and to set rules for tournaments. They’re like the PGA of fishing.
At the same time, while we still support those main pillars, over the past 30 years, we have also expanded our focus to include a lot of work on habitat conservation and research. We have been providing children with educational materials and programs on the subject of fish and sportfishing. One of our initiatives is the Great Marlin Race, in which fish are caught, outfitted with satellite tags and released. We conduct that program in collaboration with Stanford University; the work helps the scientific community better understand what drives these species and it improves our ability to conserve and manage them for the future. Full information on that initiative can be found on our website under the drop-down menu for What We Do.
SDM: Do you host tournaments?
Vitek: We host a handful of tournaments. For many years, those included the IGFA Offshore Fishing Championship; however, somewhere around 2007 or 2008, the management of that tournament was transferred over to another group. We have since launched a new tournament in the Red Sea in Egypt, which will be held from February 14 to 17. That event will be held in a catch-weigh-release format to promote responsible and ethical angling practices.
Editor’s Note: A full listing of all IGFA tournaments is available on the organization’s website at igfa.org/events.
SDM: In term of demographics, are you seeing the growth of women anglers?
Vitek: Historically, membership has been older and male. The number of female anglers has gone up significantly, however, and we have also seen growth among junior anglers.
SDM: What kind of trends are you noticing in the sportfishing world?
Vitek: There was definitely a major increase in angling during the pandemic; we can track that through the sale of fishing licenses. The question, of course, is how to retain those people and keep them involved.
SDM: Is IGFA a membership organization?
Vitek: It is; IGFA offers membership in different categories, including Individual (for anglers), Corporate, Captains & Guides, Fishing Clubs and Weigh Stations.
SDM: You mentioned fishing clubs. Do you think more, or fewer, people are joining fishing clubs these days?
Vitek: That’s an interesting question. We have IGFA clubs around the world, and obviously, there are plenty of groups on social media dedicated to fishing. And in the past, if you lived in a certain area and were interested in fishing, you would join the local fishing club. You’d talk to other people and get information on different fishing locations in the area.
Today, it is different. It is acceptable for people to share information on social media (and it really does make it easier for them to engage with others) but other people, particularly those who are a little older, enjoy the nostalgia of a club setting and the personal interaction involved. There are pros and cons on each side. SDM