- WCOB Great Marlin Race -

Update - July 2020

An update in the Satellite tagging program – the programme was cut short due to Covid. Two of the six tags were deployed, and have not yet ‘popped off’ the marlin – they are designed to remain in the marlin for 8 months, and once they break off they deploy their information us – this is expected around October – all going well. The four remaining Tags are being stored over winter, and are planned for deployment in the upcoming season. 



A satellite tagging programme of Striped Marlin (S/Marlin) has long been discussed for the west coast of the North Island. Recent years has seen this come closer and closer until this winter, sufficient donors stepped forward including many keen fishers, both individuals and organisations.

In addition, the New Plymouth Sportfishing and Underwater Club has contributed to the cost of a Tag (and facilitated the administration of the project), and the ultimate success of the project was only made certain due to the underwrite and contribution by the NZ Marine Reasearch Foundation (http://www.nzmrf.org.nz/history.php). 

This programme is the Foundation of the way forward. Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6A4lmsFwZc

As a highly migratory species, a recommendation from the recent stock assessment of striped marlin in the SW Pacific was more information from satellite tagged fish was needed. Marlin in NZ waters is off limit due to the Moritorium on Billfish and therefore local NZ commerical fisherman don’t target marlin.

Offshore boats outside NZ waters already have detailed catch records over many years on where the Marlin congregate – this is not widely known by researchers and recreational fishers.

The last assessment showed that S/Marlin is a species in trouble and needs more research. Ideally it is likely necessary to close areas of spawning (hot spots) – tagging will help confirm where NZ fish go.

NZ is an important  summer foraging ground for S/Marlin from a wide area across the SW Pacific, as opposed to Australia where the fish typically just go up and down the coast

Ultimate lady deployed one west coast satellite tag off Manukau some years ago, else no others have been deoplyed in S/Marlin off the west coast. This is the first programme of its kind off Taranaki (and West Coast) of the North Island of NZ targeting S/Marlin.


Current programme

The programme has sourced the tags through the IGFA (https://igfa.org/) and specifically the Great Marlin Race (https://igfa.org/igmr-program-overview/). The cost for this project is approximately $50,000 - which is simply the costs of the 6 tags, the analysis and reporting. 


The Great Marlin Race is normally based around a tournament - in our case the weather and fishery is variable (not guaranteed) so the programme is not limited to 1 weekend. That said, the title 'West Coast One Base' has been adopted, on the basis that the NPSUC main tournament holds the same name and is essentially a Marlin fishing tournament. 


The idea is that 6 satellite tags are deployed in individual fish (refer to diagram here) caught off Taranaki, and the tags remain in the Marlin for up to 8 months, after which time the tag is designed to break away and the Tag retrieved for full data download and analysis by Stanford University. 


The 6 tags will be named individually based on the boats that catch and deploy each of the 6 Marlin.


An example of past GPS tracks and information is shown below.

Great Marlin Race - past tracks



An intial deployment committee meeting was held 28th Jan 2020. The minutes from that meeting are here 


Any queries related to the programme should first be directed to the Club President, Ian Steele 0276 881 441