Sportfishing Conservancy - Sanctuary Classic

Five Youngsters Receiving $1,000 Scholarships from Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation for Fishing Photos Entered During Summer Long Contest


February 8, 2016 — The Sportfishing Conservancy and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries today announced the winning photographs and young anglers selected to receive special Guy Harvey Youth Scholarship Awards as part of the Fourth Annual Sanctuary Classic.   Five young anglers around the country will receive $1,000 scholarship awards from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, based on photographs that were submitted during this free, summer-long fishing photo contest designed to promote family fun and fishing opportunities in our country’s vast network of National Marine Sanctuaries. 

A prestigious panel of three judges — IMAX film pioneer Barbara MacGilivray, Hawaiian Fishing television host Ben Wong and world-renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey — evaluated a wide variety of youth fishing photos submitted from marine sanctuaries and adjacent waters, and selected the following winners: 


Asher Encinas — Asher won the “Most Unique Looking Fish” Award for his picture of a copper rockfish — also known as a “chucklehead” — caught at California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

Read more: Sanctuary Classic 2015



Sportfishing Conservancy - Sanctuary Classic

Guy Harvey Personally Announces Winners,

Highlighting Eight Youngsters to Receive $500 Scholarships From Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation


(December 1, 2014) — Via a video released today (, world renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey personally announced the winners of the 2014 Sanctuary Classic, a fishing photo contest designed to reward families for enjoying recreational fishing opportunities in our nation’s network of National Marine Sanctuaries and sharing their experiences in photographs.

Along with weekly prizes for photos selected throughout the summer, the Third Annual Sanctuary Classic increased from four to eight the number of special Guy Harvey Scholarship Award winners that would be selected at the event’s conclusion. A panel of three prestigious judges — IMAX film pioneer Barbara MacGilivray, Hawaiian fishing television host Ben Wong and Guy Harvey himself — evaluated youth fishing photos based on the their portrayal of the following: Kids Fishing, Kids and Family Fishing Values, Kids in the Outdoors, Kids in the Sanctuaries and Kids’ Conservation.

The eight young boys and girls selected to receive $500 scholarships from the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation are Parker Churchill, Joe Cutler, Mason Nunn, David Omura, Damian (no last name), Sierra Davis, Connor Creal and Teagan Barnhart.

"The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation has been a proud supporter of the Sanctuary Classic since the beginning," says Guy Harvey. "America has a tremendous resource in its network of marine sanctuaries and everyone should be encouraged to enjoy these areas responsibly."

Read more: Sanctuary Classic 2014

“Hey, I’m one guy who fishes a couple of times a year and I only use one hook on my line when I do fish.  After watching the giant industrial fishing boats that I see on the videos, my little fishing contribution doesn’t even make a speck on the graph when you talk about overfished and depleted fisheries.  Right?”


Talk to most recreational fishermen about their fishing experience and it’s not uncommon to get an answer like this.  They don’t go fishing all that often and when they do go, they don’t take home a lot of fish.   If there’s overfishing going on, why don’t the feds go after the commercial guys and concentrate on the real problem.  Somehow it just doesn’t make sense for the National Marine Fishery Service to pick on us recreational fishermen who are just out for a little time on the water and want to take home a few fish.

Interestingly, last fall the National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) released data on recreational fishing and it contained some pretty astounding figures not only about how many of us fish, but importantly, insight into just how we fish.  According the NMFS office of external affairs, in 2011, some 10 million marine anglers took 60 million trips and caught about 345 million fish.   Suddenly it becomes clear that when counted with the other folks who fish, our one hook and one line can have a significant impact on the overall health of our marine world.   However, the truly interesting thing about the way we fish also came out in the NMFS report:  we recreational fishermen release nearly 60% of the fish that we catch!   This isn’t just CPR –catch, photograph and release, the 60% number includes regulatory discards – under or over sized fish, over limits or out of season and recreational bycatch.  So if we release 60% of what we catch and keep 40%, that means that we release 50% more fish than we take!  Do the math and we release some 200,000,000 fish a year.  All of a sudden, when you add all of the little specks on that problem fishery graph together, our recreational fishing contribution shows an immense impact on resources.

“But wait a minute – didn’t I just hear that we release 200,000,000 fish every year – don’t we get credit for throwing those back?”

Here’s the rub.  While we release a lot of fish, many, and in some fisheries most of those released fish don’t survive.  While there are many reasons why released fish do or don’t make it, the mortality figures are compiled by marine scientists and become important to regulators who include them in our total catch.  Fish released that don’t survive are counted the same as those we take home for dinner.

So what are “Best Practices” and why should I even care?

In light of declining fish populations for key recreational fisheries, the health of the 200,000,000 fish that we release each year can have a great affect on the way in which managers regulate fisheries.  Many fisheries that we participate in currently have low survival rates.  Best practices tries to look at regional fisheries and employ the tactics that can improve those survival rates.  Importantly, when we employ best practices and improve survival rates, we not only help the fish, but we also provide regulators with an opportunity to count less dead fish and potentially increase overall catches.  Taking the high road to conservation helps not only our resources, but is clearly in the long term best interest of our fishing and our grandkids fishing.

Best Practices workshops are being held around the country to learn from anglers and share some of the science on better ways to handle and release fish.


A Marine Protected Area or MPA is a clearly defined geographic area that has special protections in place and is formally dedicated for those protections.  That’s it.

On land we have many such designated areas, so before we go to sea, let’s look at some of our MPAs’ terrestrial counterparts. 

Private property - usually for a fee, a person takes title to a clearly defined area.  The owner then basically sets criteria for use of that land.  We have farmland that farmers set aside for crops.  Their water might be designated for irrigation.  Folks who own their house can likewise set their own rules of entry.  Owners set the terms and we often see “Parking for patrons” or “management reserves the right to . . . “

In addition to private ownership, federal and state governments also have a role. Federal designations include Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and others.   Rules on these properties are set geographically, then generally limit but allow activities that may include mining, timber harvest, hunting and fishing.  Teddy Roosevelt provided the guidance and framework for much of this national policy.  Consequently, today across our country the average person enjoys unparalleled hunting and fishing opportunity and access to the great outdoors.

Most states and municipalities have followed this lead and have similar designations and also apply similar regulations and restrictions.

When it comes to the ocean, rules have come later rather than sooner.  Oil drilling, wind farms, transportation and fishing are regulated, but the regulations have been more specific to the activity instead of the geographic area.  Marine spatial planning is evolving and will be helpful by assuring both competing and complimentary interests some degree of certainty for their future endeavors.  Although it does not regulate, the new National Ocean Policy was formulated with broad stakeholder input to provide a regional framework for such practices, while embracing all interests.

Read more: What is a Marine Protected Area? Why do those 3 letters, “MPA,” generate such fear?




A half-century ago Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when asked to define obscenity, quipped that he wouldn’t try to define it, “but I know it when I see it.”


Although a long way from the Supreme Court, pretty much the same thing can be said of “Best Practices” for recreational fishing.The width and breadth of sport fishing’s “Best Practices” are hard to define, but ask any experienced sport fisherman about them and “he’ll know them when he sees them.” More importantly, the true sport angler generally employs this array of loosely defined tools and techniques as an integral part of sustainable fishing.

Concepts behind best practices have evolved over the decades and have been passed on generationally. Whether father, mother, uncle or grandparent, those that passed down the traditional art of recreational fishing generally had a special reverence for the sport, the fish and the outdoor landscapes that provided incredible backdrops for their fishing adventures.Importantly, along the line an increasing number of these heritage practices have been observed, vetted and sometimes augmented by marine science.Recently such science has opened the door for regulatory authorities to adopt better-understood outcomes in their rule-making scheme.As fisheries and habitat change from region to region and from inshore to offshore, so to do the ways which anglers carefully ply their sport.Instead of trying to define the vast array of these fishing tricks and tactics that make up best practices, let’s instead examine the theme behind “best Practices.”

Generally speaking, “Best Practices” are an informal code of conduct for the sports fishing community, indicative of taking an active role in adopting and employing responsible, sustainable tools and techniques when practicing their sport.

The Sanctuary Classic put on by The Sportfishing Conservancy was a summer long photo contest to encourage fishing in the national marine sanctuaries across the United States.

Visit to see the winners! 

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  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.


Department of Fish & wildlife