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February 05, 2010

The Billfish Foundation's Ellen Peel inducted into the Big Game Room Hall of Fame

The ceremony was held Thurs. Feb. 11, at Miami International Boat Show

MIAMI, Florida, USA - Ellen Peel, whose passion, tenacity and perseverance as the president and chief executive officer of The Billfish Foundation in advancing the conservation of billfish, was inducted into the 2010 Big Game Room Hall of Fame at the Miami International Boat Show, Thursday, February 11.

Ms. Peel becomes the hall's seventh inductee in the Big Game Room; an arena where the blue water industry's premier fishing talent gather, made up of expert and celebrity anglers, world wide tournament organizers, boat and tackle manufacturers, conservation groups, renowned artists, and representatives from far off exotic resorts and fishing destinations.

TBF Board Chairman John Brownlee who is also the editor of Salt Water Sportsman Magazine said, "I can't think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Ellen. She works tirelessly to make our sport better, and without her fierce determination and consummate skill, the billfish of the world would be much worse off. So would we!"

In March Ms. Peel will begin her 14th year as the head of TBF, a post many in billfishing and marine conservation say was a position she was born for. The Gulf of Mexico was her back yard growing up in Long Beach, Miss., and her respect for billfishing grew in coastal Gulf Breeze, Fla. She's at home on deep blue water oceans or fly fishing a remote trout stream.

Her appreciation for the outdoors was broadened working for the National Park Service before pursuing a law degree at Ole Miss. Knowing she wanted to represent big migratory fish including billfish species she continued her studies with a masters of law in marine resources at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle. With her specialization she worked in Washington D.C. at the Center for Marine Conservation getting a solid background with the law-making process. 

As a then TBF member she urged the foundation to be involved in key federal fishing management meetings with the decision makers. The late Winthrop P. Rockefeller, who founded TBF in 1986, offered her the vacant executive director's position in 1996.

Despite many challenges like the reduced worldwide populations of billfish caused by commercial longlining and netting, her message remains clear - good conservation pays in benefits to the fish stocks, the oceans' ecosystems, improved fishing opportunities, strong economies and prepared future generations of ocean stewards and users.  Through education, research, science, advocacy and uniting the recreational fishing community as a single, powerful voice, TBF's accomplishments have been many including key socio-economic work in the Central and South Americas, and TBF's Tag & Release program and its technology.

In 2009, because of her dedication to marine resources, Ellen was designated to serve as the Acting U.S. Recreational Fishing Commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), pending final approval by the Office of the President, which is anticipated to be announced soon.

She follows to the BGR Hall of Fame stage Capt. Joan Vernon who was inducted last year. Joan is also a member of the TBF board and served as its past chairman.

The Billfish Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to conserving and enhancing billfish populations worldwide. With world headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., TBF's comprehensive network of members and supporters includes anglers, captains, mates, tournament directors, clubs, sport fishing and tourism businesses. By coordinating efforts and speaking with one voice, the organization works for solutions that are good for billfish, not punitive to recreational anglers and good for the local economy. The TBF web site is billfish.org.