Kona Project

With nearly fifty years experience working to conserve large open-ocean predators, Wild Oceans has launched an exciting new effort to protect billfish in the Pacific Ocean. The Wild Oceans Kona Project is a multi-year, comprehensive undertaking to improve the understanding of billfish nursery grounds and use this information to champion better protections.


Kona Project

By researching and understanding gaps in our knowledge of billfish life history, we can advance more successful domestic and international management strategies to protect and rebuild marlins. The Wild Oceans Kona Project is a comprehensive effort to advance our understanding of the Kona Gyre eddy system in order to protect vulnerable spawning stocks.  Our ultimate goal is to achieve healthier billfish populations and better fishing opportunities for small boat fishermen and anglers across the Pacific.


Our project has three interconnected components:

  • image description Documenting Billfish Nursery Areas

    Conduct a three phase, four to five-year research project designed to identify patterns of billfish larval abundance, nursery habitat, and routes of larval dispersal and connectivity, with a focus on the “Kona Gyre”. Phase one, would be taking inventory of all related research done to date. Phase two would be developing oceanographic maps and models to estimate paths of surface material transfers from the Kona eddy system to determine available spawning and larval habitat, along with possible larval trajectories and connectivity. Phase three, would be utilizing results from the first two Phases to conduct field sampling where larval billfishes would be collected to determine factors important for their habitat utilization, distribution, and growth.

  • image description Improving Pacific Billfish Management

    During the first phase of the management component, we will begin building a coalition to advance domestic striped marlin management measures that address the US relative impact on the overfished stock and to secure international support for a striped marlin rebuilding plan. The second phase of the plan is to monitor the domestic and international rebuilding plans for improvement, identify measures to improve the plans, and extend similar protections as needed to other Pacific billfish stocks, such as blue marlin. The third phase is to apply information learned from our research to improve domestic and international management of billfish.

  • image description Informing and Engaging our Community

    We will produce a comprehensive web-based platform for information on Pacific marlin stock status, current domestic management, conservation measures and threats, current research and research needs. We will use this as a means of communicating with constituents, coalition partners and fishery managers (domestic and international). We will update this platform throughout the project. Phase two will focus on earned media, editorials, letters to the editor, op-eds discussing the additional management needed to rebuild billfish stocks and explaining our research and how it may help protect billfish. The final phase will focus on explaining the findings of the research to our constituents and fishery managers and linking the findings to additional management measures that can be taken domestically and internationally, to protect billfish.

Billfish Life Cycle – Unraveling the Mystery

Billfish, a family of fishes that includes marlin, sailfish and spearfish, are as mysterious as they are majestic. Sadly, they are also among the most threatened fish in the ocean as a result of decades of overfishing by commercial fleets on the high seas.  Wild Oceans has been dedicated to “Bringing Back the Big Fish” since we were founded nearly 50 years ago.  Our new Wild Oceans Kona Project will advance conservation of Pacific billfish by exploring their life history and identifying spawning and nursery areas critical to their survival.  Check out our new Billfish Life Cycle graphic to learn more about the fascinating journey of a growing billfish.

Project Updates

Kona Project Phase I Interim Report #1

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