With August fading into the distance and Labor Day Weekend upon us, the 2012 Sanctuary Classic has just about run its course. Kicked-off on June 9, National Oceans Day, the Classic’s unique blend of fishing, photography and conservation has rewarded over a hundred anglers with thousands of dollars in West Marine gift cards just for employing best fishing practices and submitting photos of their efforts to the Classic website. Check it out at sanctuaryclassic.org. Pretty slick!
According to the Sportfishing Conservancy’s Conservation Director, Jenny Armstrong, thousands of votes have been cast in support of anglers engaged in the Classic. “The Classic has energized fishermen from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We have even received entries from the Flower Garden Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico,” reported Jenny. “We are impressed with the incredible level of engagement from all around the states. While in our first year we have concentrated our outreach in the southeast and far west, we are excited and amazed about getting entries from the Gulf and other regions, ” she added.
Clearly the Classic is encouraging recreational anglers to get out and enjoy our National Marine Sanctuaries. Getting folks out fishing in these pristine locations offers an incredible way to share outdoor adventure in some of the most beautiful places anywhere. Just as importantly, the Classic is helping to introduce and define the concept of best recreational fishing practices: ways in which anglers can fish effectively, yet at the same time minimize their overall impact on fish and the natural resources that we all value.
We will have more on “best fishing practices” in the coming months. Fishermen, scientists, the conservation community and regulators all share an interest in the results of employing “best practices” and have offered to help ferret out these methods. Shortly we expect to officially announce our initial “Best Practices” workshop in partnership with Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Getting first hand insight from the local recreational fishing communities is a high priority and should prove invaluable in compiling this information. And when you combine so many talented and dedicated players, good things happen.
We are particularly proud of instituting the Sanctuary Classic to help provide positive incentives for employing “best practices.” The marine recreational fishing community has felt the sting of regulations and “Classic” incentives should provide a welcome alternative.