You made it happen in 2013, but the job is far from over

Protest Boats At Dock

Back in the spring of 2012, a defiant Gary Ingman proclaimed his Professional Tarpon Tournament Series wouldn’t stop the gaffing, the dragging, the snagging and the televised hijacking of Boca Grande Pass – all brought to you by his “controlled chaos” wrap boat spandex rodeo – until “someone tells us to stop.” In 2013, you told him enough was enough. In 2013, you told him to stop.

As we look ahead to 2014, we can look back at 2013 as a watershed year that saw our combined efforts produce two landmark regulatory reforms that will, with aggressive enforcement and your continued vigilance, give Florida’s most iconic tarpon fishery the kind of fighting chance that once seemed so beyond our reach. But you made it happen.

In 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission listened to your more than 23,000 voices. It responded by unanimously adopting rules that laid the groundwork needed to continue the job of preserving, protecting and growing the “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World” for us, our children, our children’s children and beyond. And you made it happen.

You told the FWC the time had come to put an end to gaff, drag, weigh and dump. In 2013, the seven-member commission heard you. It unanimously adopted a rule making tarpon a catch and release species. And we’re going to be in the Pass this spring to make certain this rule is strictly enforced.

Save Some Tarpon For MeYou also told the FWC the time had come to outlaw the bottom weighted snatch hooks popularized by the PTTS and promoted as a legitimate fishing lure to its cable TV “audience.” In September, the FWC listened. Save the Tarpon made your voices heard that day in distant Pensacola as the commission voted 7-0 to beef up its outdated foul-hooking rules and ban the so-called “tarpon jig” from the waters of Boca Grande Pass. You made it happen. And yes, we’ll be there this spring to make certain this rule is strictly enforced.

Your educational efforts also bore fruit in 2013. Your continued support helped us spread the message to those who have since come to understand they were underwriting the potential destruction of a fishery. In 2013, MillerCoors, Yamaha, Costa del Mar, Miller’s Ale House and others showed us and the world they truly are responsible corporate citizens. And you made it happen.

While 2013 will rightfully be remembered as the year you made it happen, 2014 will continue to present opportunities and challenges. In 2013, sport fishing enthusiasts across the globe became aware of the issues threatening Boca Grande Pass thanks to your efforts. They made their voices heard. But we all understand we can’t collectively afford to declare victory, drop our guard and go back to the era of silent indifference that nearly brought us to the brink.

Yet there are those eager to see a return to the days of “anything goes.” As you know, the man who once so defiantly challenged you to make him stop, the man who brought “controlled chaos” to Boca Grande Pass and has signaled his willingness to pay any price to keep it there, has dispatched a small armada of lawyers intent on silencing your voices and reversing the grassroots gains we worked so hard to achieve together in 2013.will rightfully be remembered as the year you made it happen, 2014 will continue to presen challenges.

Flight To Fwc MeetingYou stood up for the future of our fishery in Lakeland, in Pensacola and in Tallahassee. But all we’ve accomplished remains at risk absent the resources we now need to head off efforts by Ingman and others to undo what we’ve worked so long and so hard to make happen over the course of this past year. While our legal team has been supportive in our defense and committed to our shared cause, the fight to keep your voice from being silenced continues to drag through the courts as we enter 2014. Silence didn’t make catch and release happen. Silence didn’t ban the bottom weighted snatch hook. Silence didn’t end the corporate underwriting. Silence did not, and will not, make it happen. We will not be silenced.

We’re grateful to those who have provided so generously of their time, their talents and the resources that have allowed us to stay in the fight and make our voices heard. But despite a continuing string of reversals, the PTTS persists in what has become a transparent bid to shift focus away from the Pass, to thwart our efforts to protect and preserve the fishery, and to return to business as usual. And with every dollar spent, that risk becomes increasingly real. At your urging, we’ll soon be establishing (and, yes, it’s a cliche we hoped to avoid) a “legal defense fund” that will enable us to aggressively put this matter to rest and turn our full attention back to the job that needs to be done. Also, on Sunday, March 2, 2014, we’ll be gathering once again in Boca Grande for the 2nd Annual Save the Tarpon Shindig. Please save the date for Save the Tarpon.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at contact@savethetarpon.com or give Jennifer McLaughlin a call at 941-457-0845. It was a great 2013 for us, for you and the future of our fishery. It’s not going to be an easy act to follow. But, as 2013 revealed, “easy” isn’t in our dictionary. It’s 2014. Together, let’s keep making it happen.

Become a member today.

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.

Do The ‘Write’ Thing: Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc.

UPDATE 1/13/2013: Costa del Mar has announced they will no longer be sponsoring the PTTS.  Thank you Costa! And to everyone who spent the time to share your feelings with Save the Tarpon and Costa, congratulations, your voice was heard!

Save The Tarpon is asking your help to Do The ‘Write’ Thing by reaching out to those who sponsor and advertise with the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. These companies care about their image and the integrity of their brand. And they really do want to hear from their current and future customers on issues that impact their business and, of course, their bottom line. Who are these companies? Meet Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc., PTTS sponsor. At the end of this post we’ll show you a few ways you can Do The ‘Write’ Thing by contacting Costa Del Mar to make your voice, combined with those of 12,000 others, heard. 

Costa del Mar SunglassesAbout Costa Del Mar:
Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc. is a Florida company based in Daytona Beach. It designs and manufactures high-end polarized sunglasses, as well as apparel and accessories tailored to the angling, sailing and surfing public. Its products are sold online and through 5,000 retailers nationwide. Costa was founded in 1983. On April 22, 2003, the A. T. Cross Company (think Cross Pens) purchased Costa Del Mar Sunglasses. Cross is headquartered in Lincoln, Rhode Island. It is listed on Nasdaq as ATX. The stock’s price per share hovers in the $11 range. It should be noted that publicly traded companies do tend to listen when their shareholders have something to say.

Costa is a high-profile sponsor of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. Along with its parent company, it is also very PR conscious. Costa prides itself on its Florida roots and its reputation for being a responsible and responsive corporate citizen. On its website, the company notes “We’re a big believer in grassroots initiatives.” It doesn’t get more “grassroots” than Save The Tarpon. In the case of the PTTS, it appears Costa Del Mar – which sponsors a number of fishing tournaments and events – made a poorly vetted choice that is inconsistent with the company’s pro-conservation traditions and its long history of supporting causes that include the Cousteau Society and the Bonefish Tarpon Trust.

Costa Del Mar’s CEO is Charles R. “Chas” MacDonald, 58, whose title is President, Cross Optical Group. It is unclear whether Mr. MacDonald is based in Florida or Rhode Island. But he calls the shots at Costa. Correspondence through the Costa website (see links below) can properly be addressed to him.

Contacting Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc.:
Reasonable but firm is probably the best way to approach Costa Del Mar Sunglasses. If you are a Cross shareholder, say so. If you are a Costa customer, say so. At $89 to $290 a pop, Costa products aren’t an impulse buy. The company shares the ultra competitive high-end optical market with brands such as Maui Jim, Oakley, Revo, Bolle, Smith Optics, Ray-Ban and Kaenon.

As a consumer, you have many choices. Letting Costa know that you, a valued customer, know these other choices exist is important. Letting Costa know that you, a valued customer, know these other choices aren’t pumping their promotional dollars into the PTTS is equally important. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to mention if you, a valued customer, are considering a purchase of a new pair of high-end sunglasses sometime between now and May, 2013. It is, of course, unfortunate that Costa – as a PTTS sponsor – likely won’t be on your list.

As already noted, Costa Del Mar is responsive. This is reflected in the amount of contact information provided on the company’s website. You can give Costa a call, use the provided online comment form, connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, shoot off a fax or sit down and write them an old-fashioned letter. As always, please provide your name, address and all other requested information.

Company Address:
Charles R. MacDonald
Cross Optical Group
c/o Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc.
2361 Mason Avenue, Suite 100
Daytona Beach, FL 32117

Company Phone and Fax:
(800) 447-3700 Toll Free
(386) 274-4001 Fax
Note: If you phone, ask to speak to someone in Public Relations. These are the people who are paid to listen. If you fax, include “ATTN: Public Relations.” If you opt to give Costa a call, you might still wish to use some or all of the other available resources. HINT: Don’t expect the voice on the phone to do a whole lot more than listen and ask a few questions. The decisions are made by the decision makers upstairs. Be friendly, polite and to the point. Keep it simple. You are a current or potential Costa customer and as such, you have some strong concerns about an event the company sponsors. Let them take it from there. Odds are good they will. If the person you’re speaking with is already aware of the situation with the PTTS, request a statement on the company’s position and ask to add your name and voice to the list of concerned callers.

Online:
Costa provides an online contact form. Under “Subject,” please select “Public Relations” from the drop-down menu. You will be asked to provide a first and last name, email address, phone number and physical address. These fields are followed by a box for your comments. Speak your mind. Then click “Submit” and you’re done.

Again, the contact form can be found here.

Facebook:
Stop by the company’s Facebook page and give Costa a “like.” Then mention you’ve sent off a message concerning the PTTS. You can also add a link to http://www.savethetarpon.com or http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheTarpon

Twitter:
A Tweet to Costa would be equally sweet. Same deal as Facebook.

Other Options:
You may also wish to share your concerns with your local Costa Del Mar retailer. A list of Costa dealers in your area can be found here. Just enter your ZIP code into the box provided on the page.

*It’s probably useful to note that Costa Del Mar might seek to explain that it has a contractual obligation with the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and that its hands are, essentially, tied. This isn’t entirely correct. Most promotional contracts contain a stated or implied “morals clause.” This provision holds the PTTS to certain behavioral standards designed to prevent the tournament from bringing disrepute, contempt or scandal to a sponsor. You may wish to invite Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc. to review the extensive collection of material found on SaveTheTarpon.com to make its own determination on this question.

Then what?
You might get a phone call or an email requesting additional information. Tell your own story in your own words. Point Costa towards savethetarpon.com and the Facebook page with its more than 8,500 followers. But be sincere (we know you are) and be yourself. And thanks for taking the time to Do The ‘Write’ Thing by lending a hand and your voice to this very important cause.

If you Do The ‘Write’ Thing and receive feedback from Costa Del Mar Sunglasses Inc., let us know how it went. Feel free to Do The ‘Write’ Thing with us by shooting off a message to Save The Tarpon.

Letter to the Sponsors of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS)

Below is a copy of a letter which went out today to a few of the major sponsors of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS).  If you have a moment, please take a moment to write some of these sponsors as well.
Dana.Metz@tiresplus.com
Don.Becker@tiresplus.com
Jeremy.Persinger@tiresplus.com
Stuart.Watterson@tiresplus.com
dale_barnes@yamaha-motor.com
ben_speciale@yamaha-motor.com
aperkinson@costadelmar.com
cmacdonald@costadelmar.com
Nehl.Horton@millercoors.com
Andrew.England@millercoors.com
rick.gomez@millercoors.com
We have written you previous emails informing you that there exists a growing public backlash against the PTTS and its highly destructive fishing and handling techniques. Today there are many, many newspaper articles being written, online sites and blogs are humming, communities are organizing, sponsors are withdrawing, petitions and bumper stickers are appearing and a plane flew a negative banner over the PTTS events. We had informed you this might grow into a real brushfire. It is starting. A boycott of your product is now being advocated. Your brand will be caught up in this whirlwind and it will not be positive for your image, nor your sales. Your brand is generally respected, but now the wider boating and fishing community is turning against you as a management, and against your product because you are supporting and thus condoning the PTTS. The controversy is becoming self sustaining.
Again we ask that you consider the consequences. If you have questions, suggestions or need more information about the real and potential damages caused by the PTTS,
Mark Futch has asked that you contact him directly. Mark Futch is the Secretary of the respected Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association.
PTTS Sponsor Boycott
Captain Mark Futch
Cell: (941) 740-0662
bgseaplane@gmail.com
www.bocagrandefishing.com