Protest in the Pass

Protest In The Pass

Join Save the Tarpon and its supporters on May 19th at 6:45 am for “Protest in the Pass.”  We are showing up by water to protest the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) as it begins its 2013 season events.

Last year we were on the beach. But, this year we will be on the WATER! If you don’t have a boat, but would like to attend, please contact us and we will connect you with a captain.

All participating boats will meet up on what is known as the Hill. It is the area just East of the old phosphate dock. We will meet at 0645 on May 19th. Please bring your bullhorns and banners. The PTTS opening event is from 0700 to 10am.

WHY: We strongly oppose, and call for the immediate termination of, the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) in Boca Grande, Florida. Our opposition stems from the destructive, unethical fishing practices and unsportsmanlike conduct promoted by this six week long, for-profit fishing tournament television show. We believe the disruptive fishing methods endorsed by the PTTS and employed by its participants are likely causing the Tarpon to change their movement, feeding, and spawning behaviors and is threatening the survival of the fishery. The hyper-aggressive culture of disrespect created by the PTTS has, and continues to severely hinder fair and equal access to the fishery by all other user groups for the sole purpose of generating increased revenue for shareholders of the tournament and its associated production.

If you’d like to RSVP, please do so by visiting the Save the Tarpon Facebook page.  Your name will not be visible to the public.

Have you noticed the boycott list is quietly shrinking?

Save The TarponWe’re urging our nearly 18,000 supporters and members to periodically check the boycott list. It is updated regularly as tournament and team sponsors continue to notify Save The Tarpon that they have opted to quietly end their affiliation with the PTTS. We have, of course, respected their wishes.

If you notice a business no longer appears on the list, don’t hesitate to show your appreciation. Stop by. Give them a quick call. Shoot off an email. Make a purchase. Let them know they’ve done the right thing.

We make every attempt to keep the list current. If your business is among those no longer participating in the PTTS as a tournament or team sponsor, please let us know by dropping us a line. We can be reached at contact@savethetarpon.com.

See our boycott list >
Sign our easy online petition >

Who’s next? Florida trucking firm pulls sponsor plug on PTTS

One day after Miller’s Ale House officially severed its sponsorship ties to the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, yet another PTTS sponsor has announced that it, too, is walking away.

PTTS Team Patterson Freight Systems

Looks like Team Patterson Freight Systems will be saying ‘bye-bye’ to the PTTS in 2013.

Patterson Freight SystemsFlorida-based Patterson Freight Systems Inc., with corporate headquarters in Plant City, is a division of The Patterson Companies. The company was a long-time PTTS sponsor, supporter and participant. It joins a growing list of brands that have recently elected to end corporate affiliation with the controversial cable TV fishing tournament.

According to Bobby Tyson, director of sales and marketing, Patterson Freight Systems Inc. is “not participating in the PTTS events this year.” Tyson added, “like you we are interested in the preservation of the species as well as the fishery that is Boca Grange Pass.”

In announcing Patterson’s decision to cut the PTTS financial cord, Tyson also cited economics, noting “we did not feel that the advertising expense was hitting our market enough to justify the outlay.”

Another one bites the dust: Miller’s Ale House latest to quit PTTS

Teamalehouse

The Miller’s Ale House PTTS team. Make that the FORMER Miller’s Ale House PTTS team.

You spoke, they listened.

On Monday, March 11 you put out the call for Miller’s Ale House to end its long-standing and high profile affiliation with the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. Just 21 hours later, the company made it official.

“We do not sponsor the PTTS,” messaged Chris Frawley, the Florida-based restaurant chain’s divisional vice president. “We are no longer a sponsor.”

Miller’s Ale House had been a prominent PTTS player through its sponsorship of the notorious “Miller’s Ale House Weigh Boat” and its financial backing of one of the TV tournament’s most “competitive” teams. The company, as of 8:24 a.m. EDT Tuesday, March 12, now joins a list that includes Tires Plus Total Car Care, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Skeeter Boats, Farlow’s On The Water, Andros Boatworks and other brands that have cut the PTTS money cord.

You did it again. To date, five PTTS sponsors have been the focus of SaveTheTarpon.com’s “Do The WRITE Thing” campaign, an effort designed to ask companies that have attached their names to the PTTS to “Do The RIGHT Thing” and walk away. Through your emails, your phone calls, your letters and your Facebook posts, all five have pulled the plug on the PTTS. Yes, you did it again.

You can also cross Miller’s Ale House off the boycott list. Your local Ale House restaurant can be found here.  Stop by. And don’t forget to tell the folks there how much you appreciate the company’s swift and responsible decision to end its PTTS affiliation.

The PTTS continues to list Tires Plus Total Car Care and Miller’s Ale House on its “Sponsors” page. Bridgestone, the parent company of Tires Plus, publicly ended its PTTS affiliation last month. A number of team sponsors have also quietly withdrawn their PTTS participation or have informed Save The Tarpon of their intent to do so. The PTTS has also removed Yamaha Motors from its sponsor page and is no longer billled as being “presented by Yamaha.” The company, which earlier pulled its Skeeter Boats division out of the PTTS,  has yet to officially confirm its 2013 status.

The tournament’s remaining name sponsors are:

  • Johnson Outdoors
  • Sea Hunt Boats
  • Reactor Watches
  • The Beached Whale
  • Continental Trailers
  • J.J. Taylor Distributing of Fort Myers (Miller/Coors)

NOTE: Miller’s Ale House is not affiliated with Chicago-based Miller/Coors or J.J. Taylor Distributing. Miller/Coors continues to attach its Miller brand to the PTTS. We ask that you continue to boycott the company’s products. And here’s a little musical something to go with that nice, cold non-Miller brew:

Tell Miller’s Ale House: PTTS sponsorship not a ‘reel great’ way to make ‘raving fans’

JackClaire

Jack and Claire Miller.

Miller’s Ale House is a high-profile sponsor of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. It has, in years previous, attached its brand to the notorious Miller’s Ale House weigh boat. The company is not affiliated with the Chicago-based Miller/Coors industrial beer conglomerate – another PTTS sponsor.

JackMiller

Jack Miller talks about giving away free cars.

Miller’s Ale House operates three restaurants in Southwest Florida: Sarasota, Fort Myers and Estero. The Jupiter, Fla. company now has 60 locations nationwide, with all but 13 of these here in the Sunshine State. The first Miller’s Ale House was opened in 1988 by Jack and Clair Miller who continue to remain at the company’s helm. Here’s a video of Jack. (Give your browser permission to run it if prompted,)

Although Miller’s Ale House has apparently scaled back its sponsorship stake in the PTTS, its brand continues to be prominently attached to the tournament. It remains on Save The Tarpon’s boycott list.

The company is generally responsive. Its “guest relations manager” closely monitors and is quick to address critical online reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor.com, inviting dissatisfied customers to privately email their concerns to an anonymous corporate account. Its “locations” page on MillersAleHouse.com provides email addresses that can be used to reach out to your local Ale House management with questions and comments about the company’s involvement with the PTTS.

MillersalehouselogoThe Miller’s Ale House fishing-themed motto is “A Reel Great Place to Catch a Good Time!” The more than 15,000 supporters and members of Save The Tarpon will likely never know. Not as long as the company’s brand continues to remain associated with the not so reel great PTTS.

Miller’s Ale House boasts of its “Run It Like You Own It” culture when it comes to its restaurant managers. The chain’s local managment, Miller’s says, has “the ability to make decisions and impact change, right at your own store!” There is some reason to believe that the “decision” to sponsor the PTTS was made locally and, perhaps, summarily endorsed at the corporate level without the proper vetting. Management, with your assistance, now needs to be encouraged to follow through on the “impact change” part of the company’s philosophy. Same with the folks in Jupiter. The city, not the planet.

Teamalehouse

Team Miller’s Ale House poses for a ‘brag photo’ with its graffed, dragged and hoisted PTTS tarpon. They are having a ‘reel great’ time. The tarpon isn’t.

Use this link to find the Miller’s Ale House outlets in your region. Scroll down to the area below the map of the U.S. Enter your Zip Code. A list of restaurants, especially if you are in Florida, will appear. Each location contains an “Email Us” link. Left click on this link to open a new message in your email program. Or right click to copy and paste the address into your browser-based email application.

You can also reach out to corporate by following this link to a contact page.  You will be prompted to enter a restaurant location found on a drop down menu. Select one. The company monitors these incoming contacts. You can also reach the company by phone at (866) 743-2299. Ask for Guest Relations. Or request to be transferred to Jack Miller’s office. And, as always, be nice.

The company’s mission statement is “All Actions Create Ale House Raving Fans.” Let’s urge Jack and Clair Miller to take a very important action by ending their affiliation with the PTTS and joining their more than 15,000 potential customers who seek to respect, protect and grow the Boca Grande tarpon fishery. It’s an action likely to create a whole lot of “Raving Fans” eager to once again support “A Reel Great Place to Catch a Good Time!”

The Miller’s Ale House corporate Facebook page can be found here. Just in case you feel like wandering by and leaving a Reel Great message.

Sponsors, anglers, FWC asking $15,000 question: What other ‘promises’ will PTTS break?

When a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you.  ~Proverb

PTTS Host, Joe Mercurio

PTTS host Joe Mercurio performs one of his favorite Broadway show tunes for the cameras: “Promises, Promises.”

What’s a promise made by the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series worth? As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Wildlife Research Institute will tell you, not much. Actually, not anything.

But that hasn’t kept the PTTS from making lots of them as the tournament scrambles to promise everything and anything to its handful of remaining sponsors and participants. And the PTTS is good at making promises. Delivering on them is, apparently, another story. Like we said. Ask the FWC. Ask the FWRI. And if you’re a PTTS sponsor or angler, ask yourself. It’s the $15,000 question.

In September, 2012, PTTS television show host Joe Mercurio, who doubles as vice president and general manager of Silver King Entertainment LLC, the tournament’s parent company, stood before the FWC commissioners and made a lot of promises.

He promised, for instance, that the PTTS would “voluntarily” replace its sacrificial gaff, drag, hoist, weigh, drag and dump “live catch and release” format with some mystery gaff, drag, measure, drag and dump “live catch and release” sleight of hand. He then instantly rendered his promise meaningless by begging the commission to disregard everything he just promised and keep the rules that make gaff, drag, hoist, weigh, drag and dump legal. Confused? So were the commissioners. But Joe had promised. And a promise is, of course, a promise.

Mercurio was in a promising mood that day. “I ask that you accept these changes as part of all of our responsibility to ensure the conservation and preservation efforts we have made in the past continue to have a positive impact on the fish and fishery,” Mercurio said of his gaff and drag promise made to the seven FWC commissioners.

He wasn’t finished. “We will continue to promote conservation and to conduct our activities while exercising the utmost respect for the fishery.” Mercurio’s pile of promises was growing faster than his nose.

Then came the payoff. Literally.

Noting that “our organization and anglers understand that we have a duty to conserve and protect the resource we enjoy so much, and to give back to the community by supporting conservation and preservation efforts,” Mercurio promised to put his money – actually, Gary Ingman’s money and the tournament’s sponsors money – where his mouth was.

Mercurio paused. He looked each commissioner in the eye. There was one more promise to be made by the PTTS that day in Tampa. Mercurio had a big finish he was about to drop on the FWC commissioners, a honking big finish, a jaw dropping “this guy means business” honking big finish wrapped in yet one more promise that made all his other PTTS promises look puny by comparison. It was a Take It To The Bank, May God Strike Me Dead, Mother Of All Promises promise. Joe glanced to his left. Joe glanced to his right. The moment had come.

“This year,” Mercurio promised the seven FWC commissioners as the Florida Channel’s cameras beamed his words live and in color to every cable subscriber in the state, “we pledge to provide $15,000 to further support the FWRI’s Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study.”

No more gaff and drag. We promise. We will continue to promote conservation. We promise. We will conduct our activities while exercising the utmost respect for the fishery. We promise. And to back up all our other promises, we will give you $15,000. We promise. We promise. We promise. We promise.

Kathy Guindon, PhD, is the FWRI’s lead tarpon researcher. She runs the institute’s Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study. The same Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study Mercurio promised the FWC commissioners would soon be cashing a nice, fat $15,000 check courtesy of the generous folks at Ingman Marine, Miller/Coors, Yamaha Marine Group, Sea Hunt Boats, Reactor Watches, Continental Trailers, Miller’s Ale House, Johnson Outdoors, Humminbird and, or so the promise went, the PTTS. Joe promised.

So where’s Joe’s promised $15,000?

“To my knowledge, the tarpon genetic recapture study never received money from the PTTS in 2012, or prior,” says Dr. Guindon. There is, in fact, no $15,000. Just a promise. One of many promises Mercurio made that day to the FWC, its sponsors, its participants, the people of Florida and, through his own words posted on his own PTTS website, roughly three billion people worldwide.

“To my knowledge, the tarpon genetic recapture study never received money from the PTTS in 2012, or prior.”

If nothing else, at least we all know – including the FWC commissioners Joe stood before that day in Tampa – what a PTTS promise is really worth.

End catch and drag. We promise.

Promote conservation. We promise.

Utmost respect for the fishery. We promise.

Fifteen thousand dollars? The check’s in the mail. We promise.

(Want to do something that will actually help the tarpon genetic recapture study? Join us Sunday, March 3 at the Boca Grande Community Center/Community House from 2 to 6 p.m. Our captains will be on hand to explain how the program works. We promise.)

You’re right, Josh: ‘It’s not just a handful of people …’

Protest

June, 2012 – ‘A handful of people …’

Save The Tarpon’s supporters and members now number nearly 15,000 worldwide. Worldwide? Yes – worldwide. But that’s just part of the story when it comes to spreading the message of a group that is less than eight months old.

WaterLine Publisher Josh Olive wrote in the magazine’s Feb. 28 edition that he once viewed Save The Tarpon as just a few people with “axes to grind.” He’s since changed his thinking on this one. “Turns out it’s not just a handful of people on Boca Grande,” he says in a column he headlined “Mending the bridge to Boca Grande.”

He also notes “I was wrong to take at face value what I was told by (PTTS) tournament supporters.” He’s likely not alone. Maybe it’s a good idea to take a moment to tell the story of Save The Tarpon’s growth over these past eight months. It is, of course, your story. You wrote it. You made it happen.

Now

February, 2013 – A really big handful. (Eleven days later and this number is now approaching 14,000.)

When Skeeter Boats recently announced it was ending its sponsorship of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, the news reached 58,172 people in the United States alone. And that’s just through Facebook. And it’s just the beginning.

When Farlow’s on the Water in nearby Englewood told us they were finished with the PTTS, the news reached 6,256 potential customers in Sarasota, 2,487 in Port Charlotte, 1,884 in Englewood, 1,335 in nearby Venice, 1,272 in Fort Myers, 1,078 in Tampa, 856 in Cape Coral, 779 in Punta Gorda and 747 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Okay, maybe the folks in Barquisimeto won’t be dropping by for dinner tonight, but they certainly know where to eat if they’re in the neighborhood.

At the same time, the numbers tell us there are 116,993 people who likely won’t be living the High Life – as in Miller High Life – along with their Farlow’s scallop salad. Miller/Coors is a sponsor of the PTTS. Just as we once did with Farlow’s prior to this past week, we’re asking our supporters to continue to stay away from the company’s products as long as it’s associated with the tournament. And, according to Facebook, those 116,993 people who dropped by for a visit in the last seven days passed the word along to 5,554,577 of their friends and neighbors online.

Somewhere in Barquisimeto, there’s a cantina owner wondering why everyone has suddenly switched to Budweiser. And somewhere at Miller/Coors corporate headquarters in Chicago (so much for the whole Rocky Mountain shtick) there’s a marketing exec wondering where 5.5 million customers went. Hint: Ask Skeeter Boats. Ask Tires Plus Total Car Care. Ask Costa del Mar Sunglasses. Or ask one of those PTTS team captains who isn’t getting a freebie wrap boat this year, is peeling all those sponsor patches off his NASCAR-style fishing shirt and is now faced with shelling out the tournament’s hefty entry fee –  from his own pocket.

Did you know that last week there were 182 people who read our Facebook page in a dialect of Norwegian? Or that 1,079 of you visited us online from Paris? As in Paris, France? In fact, the page was translated into French 11,502 times. The language is ranked third, behind English (63,629) and Spanish (39,219) among our visitors. And in case you’re wondering, the French word for “tarpon” is “tarpon.”

Tarpon fishing is popular in Venezuela. Which probably explains why 18,632 of our recent visitors call the country home. Did you know there’s a Boca Grande in Venezuela? It’s also an island. The similarity ends there. It’s ranked among the most affordable places in the world if you want a beach a few steps from your front door. Our Boca Grande didn’t quite make the list.

When Save The Tarpon talks about preserving our fishery for future generations, those future generations are paying attention. And they really do care. A remarkable 60.4 percent of our visitors are under the age of 34. And 75.3 percent of our visitors are in the target “under 45” demographic that brands like Miller/Coors spend millions in advertising dollars to attract. Money that’s being largely wasted through the company’s affiliation with the PTTS – and through your affiliation with and support of Save The Tarpon.

Save The Tarpon began in June, 2012 as a small group of people standing on a beach overlooking Boca Grande Pass. We watched as the PTTS gaffed and dragged fish to that beach to be tossed into a sling and weighed. We watched the PTTS pretend these fish weren’t dead or dying as they dumped them in the deepest part of the Pass. We counted the corpses the following day. We resolved to take PTTS host Joe Mercurio up on his offer to stop what the tournament was doing to the fishery “when someone tells us to stop.”

Eight months later, a few dozen have grown to nearly 15,000 who have come together to tell Mercurio it’s time to stop. And the message continues to grow. Or, as Olive now admits, “turns out it’s not just a handful of people on Boca Grande.” The folks in Barquisimeto would likely agree.

Farlow’s latest to cut ties to PTTS

FarlowsFarlow’s On the Water, the only local business to remain affiliated with the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, has announced it will not be sponsoring a PTTS team in 2013.

Farlow’s, a popular Englewood restaurant, joins Tires Plus Total Car Care, Skeeter Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Andros Boatworks as the latest sponsor to sever its ties to the controversial fishing tournament.

Technically, Farlow’s wasn’t the lone local business. Port Charlotte-based Ingman Marine’s CEO Gary Ingman is a principal of the company that owns the PTTS. But the way things are going …

Former PTTS sponsors speak out: ‘We personally witnessed the abuse’

Tropical Seas Inc. Letter to Save the Tarpon

Click to enlarge and open in a new window.

The following letter was sent to Save The Tarpon by former PTTS sponsors Dan and Debbie Knorr of Tropical Seas Inc. and Reef Safe Suncare. The letter explains why they ended their PTTS sponsorship in 2010. It speaks for itself.

In 2010 our company Reef Safe Suncare/Tropical Seas, Inc. was a sponsor of PTTS and during this time we personally witnessed the abuse of the Tarpon by most of those involved in PTTS.

Ranging from the excessive manhandling of the tarpon from the time caught, then dragging them 30 minutes or more to the weigh in scales, through filming, and then finally to their release (if you can call it that) .

All supposedly justified by the DNA swabs and testing being done by FWC. It was obvious that most of these people had no clue how to properly handle a tarpon.

After witnessing the above we were sorry that we were involved, as from the very first event we saw that this was a scheme to make money by exploiting the tarpon as well as the pass. Absolutely no respect for our ocean and its inhabitants!

We can confirm the unethical fishing practices, as well as the unsportsmanlike conduct exhibited by those involved in the PTTS as we saw the disrespect first hand every week.

Long before the 2010 season was over we had had enough of the PTTS abuse of the tarpon and knew we would not return for another year. Reef Safe then shifted to helping sponsor tarpon DNA research through Mote Marine Laboratory.

We further donate a portion of Reef Safe sales in Florida to Mote Marine Coral Restoration project. We do believe in and will continue our support of those such as Save the Tarpon who truly care about helping protect our environment and its inhabitants for future generations.

Best Regards,

Dan & Debbie Knorr
Tropical Seas, Inc. / Reef Safe Suncare

Skeeter Boats latest big name sponsor to withdraw from PTTS

Skeeter BoatsSkeeter Boats has announced it is joining Andros Boatworks, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Tires Plus Total Car Care as the latest high profile brand to end its affiliation with the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series.

In a statement released Wednesday, Feb. 20, the company pointed to “the controversy surrounding the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series,” noting that it “will not renew its sponsorship agreement with the PTTS for 2013.”

Skeeter Boats is a subsidiary of Yamaha Marine. The company’s brief statement did not address whether Yamaha has yet to make a decision to continue its 2013 affiliation with the tournament through its outboard motor division. Ingman Marine, owned by PTTS principal Gary Ingman, is one of Southwest Florida’s largest Yamaha dealers, with three locations in Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

“Yamaha Marine supports many agencies and organizations that are focused on conservation to protect and enhance our fishery resources. We encourage all anglers and organizations to support these efforts,” the company said in its announcement.

Yamaha’s decision to further distance itself from the PTTS comes just four days after Tires Plus Total Car Care announced it was ending its sponsorship of the controversial tarpon tournament. The Skeeter Boats announcement was made one day after Save The Tarpon published an “open letter” to PTTS sponsors on SaveTheTarpon.com inviting them to voluntarily end their affiliation with the tournament.

Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Tires Plus Total Car Care pulled the sponsorship plug on the PTTS after the companies were spotlighted by Save The Tarpon through its online “Do The WRITE Thing” campaign. The effort brought together the group’s nearly 14,000 members and supporters who reached out to both high-profile PTTS sponsors.

Yamaha’s decision to withraw the financial support of its Skeeter Boats division – its boats were part of the tournament’s 2012 prize package – is the latest setback to hit the PTTS. The tournament, through its TV show host Joe Mercurio, recently announced it was forced to cancel all but one Women’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series event due to what Mercurio said was “the persistent challenging economic operating environment.” The decision to abandon the women’s events came in the aftermath of Costa’s withdrawal and eight days prior to Tires Plus official announcement it was pulling the sponsorship plug.

Troy Sapp, senior vice president of the Florida Guides Association and an outspoken supporter of the PTTS, is among the tournament participants who had been sponsored by Skeeter Boats.

Skeeter Boats is a major player in the boating industry. Company founder Holmes Thurmond is credited with inventing the modern bass boat in 1948 and the first fiberglass bass boat in 1961.