An open letter to PTTS sponsors – and an invitation

For the past month or so, Save The Tarpon has been profiling companies that have attached their brand to the controversial Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. It’s an awareness campaign. Our members and supporters, more than 12,000 of them, have responded by contacting PTTS sponsors through Facebook, email and by phone.

Two companies have been profiled to date. Both have discontinued their sponsorship of the event. More PTTS sponsors will be profiled in the coming weeks and months. This is in addition to our ongoing boycott effort. And yes, you are on the list.

preserve-and-protect.jpgWe’ve discovered something interesting along the way. PTTS sponsors who have reached out to us have been largely unaware that they’ve been promoting this event. Others viewed the PTTS as “just another fishing show.” Many have since taken a closer look. It’s fair to say they aren’t happy about what they’ve seen and what they’ve learned.

Save The Tarpon has made education a priority since its formation in June, 2012. We have targeted our message of conservation, preservation and respect for the tarpon fishery to the public, anglers, sportsmen, politicians and, of course, the corporate community. Our “Do The WRITE Thing” effort was designed to help spread this message to companies like yours which, we truly believe, made a well-intentioned but poorly vetted sponsorship decision.

When Save The Tarpon was launched this past summer – and yes, our organization is less than a year old – overtures were made to the principals of the PTTS. We asked the tournament to consider ending the practice we call “gaff and drag” and follow the lead of similar events by adopting a true catch and release format that research has shown dramatically increases survival. We asked the PTTS to crack down on the reckless boat handling methods of its participants, what the PTTS proudly touts as “organized chaos.” We asked the PTTS to take measures to assure the fishing public would once again have unfettered access to Boca Grande Pass at all times.

The PTTS refused. “Refused” is a polite way of describing the tournament’s response. Back then, Save The Tarpon boasted fewer than 100 members and supporters. The PTTS, on the other hand, boasted corporate backing from some of the biggest players on the planet. The combined clout of companies much like yours allowed PTTS television host Joe Mercurio, speaking on your behalf, to go on the record and publicly state “we’ll stop when someone tells us to stop.”

As you can see, Save The Tarpon’s message is now being carried around the world by our nearly 11,000 followers on Facebook alone. Thousands more, including some of the most respected names in sport fishing and conservation, have committed to our efforts via the online petition you’ll find here at SaveTheTarpon.com. “Someone,” clearly, is telling the PTTS it’s time to stop. The list now includes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

When Tires Plus Total Car Care’s decision to drop its PTTS sponsorship was announced by Save The Tarpon on Facebook, the move was welcomed by our followers on this popular social media platform. Many also wondered “who’s next?” Fair question.

After Costa del Mar Sunglasses withdrew its support of the PTTS last month, and as word spread that Tires Plus was eyeing a strategic exit, Save The Tarpon has been in contact with a number of PTTS sponsors. These discussions have been both productive and positive. We fully grasp the complexity of corporate sponsorship agreements, and that it often takes more than a quick phone call to bail out of what many companies have now come to understand wasn’t the best business decision.

These conversations have prompted us to put a number of planned “sponsor profiles” and “Do The WRITE Thing” efforts on hold – including one that had been scheduled for publication within the next week. Although talks are continuing, these sponsors will remain on Save The Tarpon’s boycott list until a determination is announced.

We are also inviting the handful of PTTS sponsors who have yet to open the lines of communication with Save The Tarpon to take this moment to join the discussion. We’ll be happy to answer whatever questions you might have. And while holding off for a week or so might not be a popular move among some of our supporters, we’re prepared to take this step as a sign of our willingness to find a way to work together in a positive direction.

Feel free to send off an email addressed to contact@savethetarpon.com. Let us know who to reach out to and when. And, of course, how. We understand you aren’t the bad guys here. Our experience tells us you’re likely caught in the middle. We’re here to help. We promise to listen to your concerns. We also promise, of course, to share a few of our own to assist you in making an informed decision to, if we can paraphrase ourselves, “Do The RIGHT Thing.”

 

 

 

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