Waterline Magazine and Mr. Josh Olive,
Apparently you did not receive the memo published directly by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding safe Tarpon handling in Boca Grande Pass. You also seem to have fallen victim to the bright lights and fame of seeing your magazine’s name adorn the side of a tournament sponsored boat. Has your interest in the tournament actually clouded your judgement this badly?
• Never gaff a ﬁsh unless you are going to harvest the ﬁsh. “Gaff and release” is a practice that may leave the ﬁsh with an open wound making them vulnerable to predation.
• Leave ﬁsh in the water while photographing, removing the hook, or cutting the leader. Boating large ﬁsh is dangerous to you and your crew, and can injure the fish. Don’t boat your ﬁsh, if you can help it.
In order for you to have “proof,” why must one use DNA testing to prove the PTTS is killing fish when obviously their handling of the fish is outside the bounds of what is acceptable to every single conservation oriented organization that has an interest in Tarpon fishing? What is worse, is you personally know that this deviation from the norm is for nothing more than increased drama to boost television ratings and is entirely unnecessary. Why is it unnecessary you ask? Mr. Olive are you not a supporter, promoter, and sponsor of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge? The shark tournament that you tout as bringing tournament shark fishing inline with conservation? How do you handle your sharks for the tournament? I believe you do not gaff the fish and drag them to a weigh in, but rather briefly hold them up to the side of the boat while they are still in the water whilst a film crew or observer records the length. I personally have made this suggestion to Mr. Gary Ingman, owner of the PTTS and it has fallen on deaf ears.
If safe fish handling practices tell you that you are likely to have an increase in mortality, and these practices are not condoned by any conservation entity, then why would you continue those practices when they cause so much animosity towards the tournament and its participants, not just by fellow fishermen, but also the hundreds of visitors who sign the Save The Tarpon petition each and every day? The answer is simple: TV Drama, ratings, and money. I guess once your business is plastered on the side of one of the boats on TV no one is above the influence.
I would have expected better from you Mr. Olive, it is sad to see your publication fall to this level of disgrace.
Captain Tom McLaughlin, Founding Member of SaveTheTarpon.com
It has come to my attention that Waterline does not in fact sponsor a boat for the tournament. One of the contributors for the Waterline operates a “Waterline” wrapped boat in the Pass, but captains a different team during the actual tournament. After an extensive conversation with Mr. Olive by one of our founding members, we stand by our assertion that Mr. Olive sold out his journalistic soul to Ingman Marine, his largest advertiser and the focus of our Boycott. Here is some more information for your reading Mr. Olive if you think that handling a tarpon the way the PTTS does and operating their boats the way they do has no effect on the fishery, but those same actions are unacceptable when it comes to your shark tournament. A true reporter of “facts” would have no problem finding information such as Dr. Adams has provided in his opinion letter below.
We are also not here to discuss the merits of the Boca Beacon, Dr. Adams is widely considered the worlds leading Tarpon biologist. His opinions are clear though he does not mention the PTTS by name.