07-20-2012, 10:41 AM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
- South Walton, near the bay
Marlin Tournament Nets $7K for Local Shelter
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic Feeds More than Anglers’ Taste for Adventure
Proceeds from Event’s Catch Benefit Local Food Bank
A well-known adage says if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. The anglers who participate in the annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort affirm this adage by donating the tournament’s catch to a local mission, which uses those proceeds to feed the area’s hungry and provide a loving environment to help women in need meet the challenges of a renewed life.
“Despite the name, there’s much more to the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic than blue marlin,” said tournament director Shawna Harris. “Though big blue marlin excite the crowds at weigh-ins – especially record fish, as we saw this year – the tournament includes other categories, as well, namely tuna, wahoo and dolphin. And by dolphin, we don’t mean Flipper, but what most people know as mahi mahi. Our participating teams donate their edible catch to Harvest House to wholesale to local fish markets, with the proceeds supporting that agency’s mission.”
Established in 1985, Harvest House is an area non-profit organization whose mission is to provide food and shelter to those who are less fortunate or at a point of need. Since 2009, sister agency Hosanna House has provided a safe haven for women who need help transitioning through crisis situations. According to founder and board member Jerry Ogle, the organization obtained a wholesale fish license about ten years ago, which allows them to sell the donated catch at market prices, using the proceeds to help fund the ministry.
“We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the anglers who participate in this prestigious event. The tournament’s fish sales account for a substantial portion of our annual funding, which helps us greatly in our mission to provide food to those in need through Harvest House and shelter through Hosanna House.”
This 2012 event, held June 20-24, coincided with Tropical Storm Debby, which threatened coastal communities along Northwest Florida and reduced the field of competitors from 71 to 38 teams. The smaller field resulted in fewer saleable fish, but the proceeds were still substantial at $7,300.
Though a number of fish are brought to market, the majority of fish hooked in the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic are tagged and released, according to Jim Roberson, International Game Fish Association representative for Northwest Florida. “In addition to helping local charities, tournaments like the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic help create awareness of these beautiful fish and our efforts to conserve them and our ecosystems. About 99 percent of the fish hooked were tagged and released back into the wild, which not only preserves their numbers, but allows us to learn more about how to better monitor and protect them for future generations to enjoy.”
Of the 28 billfish caught this year – 16 white marlin, eight blue marlin and four sailfish - 27 were released alive. All 16 white marlin and four sailfish were released. Of eight blue marlin caught, only one was brought to the scales for weigh-in.
“All of the anglers at this event are passionate about seeing these fish survive," Roberson added. "For example, the vessel Islander out of Destin cut off a tail-wrapped Blue Marlin rather than continuing to fight the fish to see if it was eligible. This was to ensure that the fish would swim free and healthy. It is acts of sportsmanship like this that make me proud to be associated with the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. The professionalism of these anglers and captains is at the pinnacle of the sport.”
Despite the reduced field of competitors, record fish were recorded in two categories. Travis Dorland, of Mobile, Alabama, fishing for team Done Dealreeled in a monster blue marlin weighing 783.6 pounds; and Jake Breaux, of Morgan City, Louisiana, fishing for team Testing the Water reeled in a record yellowfin tuna at 190.1 pounds.
“Visit South Walton is proud to sponsor events like the Blue Marlin Classic because it represents what’s so special about our community,” said the organization’s executive director Dawn Moliterno. “Not only does it highlight the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and our unparalleled coastal lifestyle, but it also serves to engender a deep appreciation of that ecosystem’s delicate balance, while providing for a cause that enhances the quality of life for residents throughout our area.”
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic photos and final results can be found at www.fishecbc.com. For more information about other events in South Walton, go to www.VIsitSouthWalton.com.
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