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The African Billfish Foundation (ABF) is a unique charity working along the East African coast that aims at promoting a smart approach to the conservation, research and management of the Billfish species and their environment. The foundation also encourages fishing practices that support sustainable uses compatible with conservation, whilst still maintaining economic returns.

Mission: Promoting conservation and research for the protection and improvement of Billfish Species and their Enviroment.African Billfish Foundation

"The sport fishing industry depends on the survival of billfish, and the survival of billfish rests in the hands of sport anglers."

Charlie Harris

The African Billfish Foundation introduces to you the ‘MIGRATING with the BILLFISH expedition; an expedition that aims to increase the recovery of billfish tags and the awareness of billfish conservation along the East African seaboard.

The intensive hands-on Kenya and Tanzania expeditions are designed to be practical lessons involving a multi-faceted approach to create and increase awareness regarding the conservation of billfish species along the Kenyan Coastline. The first phase of the expedition (Kenya Chapter) will cover the 600 kilometer Kenya Coastline from Kiwayu up North to Shimoni on border of Kenya and Tanzania. - more info -

TheTanzania and Zanzibar Chapter 

In Pemba, 5 major fish markets and landing sites were visited and several contact persons set up. We also covered the major areas in Zanzibar, and gave a talk about the African Billfish Foundation and its work at the Dar-es-salaam Yatch Fishing Club.

Having spoken to a lot of the fishermen in Pemba and Zanzibar, we discovered that many of our tags are being recovered in billfish but are not being reported to us for the following reasons:

  • They believe fish with tags in are either poisoned so they throw the tags away before the fish are brought to the market.

  • They think that tagged fish are marked fish and they shouldn’t be catching them and therefore illegal for them to catch them.

  • They are not aware what the tags are for and therefore just throw them away.

In an effort to address the above issues, we will continue to visit and educate all the parties concerned in order to increase our recovery rates and strengthening our ties with the contacts we have made. In the meantime, we are now turning our attention to the Kenya expedition which we are planning to kick off with in September.

The African Billfish Foundation was also invited to present two papers (listed below) at the 6th World Recreational Fisheries Conference that was held in Berlin, Germany in August 2011.

  • Change, adaptation and evolution in recreational fisheries: the Case of Sport Fishing in Kenya’s marine waters

  • Globalization of Marine Recreational fisheries in Kenya: Trends, Opportunities and Challenges

A scientific paper about the findings and the work that our fishermen and anglers have been doing over 15 years was also presented at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Working Party on Billfish in the Seychelles in July 2011.


The African Billfish Foundation is primarily concerned with the running of a tagging programme which targets billfish species. This is carried out by sport fishing boats, both charter and private operating throughout the coastal East African region. Over 43,500 fish have been tagged from 1990 to date. In recent years, the popularity of tag and release has become such that we now require a minimum of about 5000 tags per season. In the past, the sport fishing community has financed this project along with private donations and support of visiting anglers. We greatly appreciate the sport fishermen, anglers and everyone who has supported this initiative

To date, the African Billfish Foundation has recovered over 1,500 fish tags.  The recovered tags include the most outstanding ones demonstrating that tagged billfish migrate to places as far as the West Coast of Austaralia, Yemen, South Africa, Reunion, Chagos and many more. Cash rewards for recaptured tags retuned to us with the relevant information are given to the artisanal fishermen as an added incentive for getting involved in the conservation ethics.

  • Advocacy

The foundation campaigns and lobbies for the conservation and management of billfish species. We work closely with the local communities, government departments, local and international non-governmental organization as well as partnering agencies in order to achieve a multi-faceted approach in addressing the issues affecting the billfish resources.

Through our considerable database, the foundation compiles reports for different topics. These include, billfish migration patterns, growth rates and breeding stocks among others. The ABF aims to compile a socio-economic study on the value of sport fishing as a sustainable resource in the East African waters.

  • Community Awareness and education

The foundation is geared towards empowering the local communities through education and awareness regarding billfish species, their conservation and management.

Here you will find a break down of the species of billfish that were caught of Kenya and in which area they were caught. Seasonal catches by zone back to 2004.

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Free T-shirts for all new members, news updates on ABF expeditions, recaptures and tagging information. Join the debate at our forum or Facebook page.  
A description of how one goes about tagging a fish and the process that follows.

Join in the debate on the conservation, tagging and future development of Indian Ocean billfish population. Have your say on how we interpret the data.

Thanks to Jenny Slater
Kenyas top billfish artist

A.B.F. Tagging Figures
The ABF has compiled the entire Kenyan sport fishing catch, see  graphs of billfish migrations  dating back to 1984 and Game fish catches going back to 1992.

Over the time the ABF have been collecting billfish data  a number of events, such as large El Nino's and La Nina's which appear to have influenced billfish migration patterns quite dramatically. Then there is the constant cycle of the moon and what role it plays.

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Thanks to Rob Hellier, Stewart Simpson & Con Jooste for above pictures. - P.O, Box 342, Watamu, Kenya -