Study was a ‘win-win’ for tarpon, a ‘lose-lose’ for the PTTS

Inserting Satellite Tarpon Tag

Measuring a big tarpon and inserting a satellite tag means holding the tarpon at each end, and hoping it doesn't explode into life at the wrong moment. Photo by Joe Richard © 2012

In a letter dated May 4, 2012, Project Tarpon’s Scott Alford requested the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series cooperate in a “collaborative effort” to satellite tag fish caught and weighed by the PTTS. The project would be fully funded.”At least two of the tarpon research projects being conducted by the marine biologists at the University of Miami could draw a great deal of benefit from the participation of the anglers competing in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series,” he wrote. “The first is the tarpon specific weight formula research, and the second project is the satellite tagging program.”

The “tarpon specific weight formula” is a reference to a project to fine tune a method of calculating a fish’s weight by measuring it at the boat rather than towing it to the beach and hoisting it on a scale.

He notes that “since killing tarpon is prohibited in many locations and certainly frowned on in most, it is difficult for these researchers to obtain weight data for tarpon.” But luckily “the PTTS offers a unique opportunity for the biologists …”

He continues: “The possible cooperation between the PTTS and biologists is obviously a win-win for both.”

And finally: “The PTTS has a long standing cooperation with biologists and research efforts. The satellite tagging seems like a natural and easy fit to further the PTTS’s conservation and research objectives.” And “this is truly a great opportunity for both the PTTS and tarpon research. I hope we can make it happen.”

The PTTS, Alford says, never responded. They didn’t “make it happen.” Color us shocked. Not much of surprise on this one.

Alford, of course, never had a chance. A satellite tag, obviously, would track the movement of the tournament’s tarpon after they are gaffed, towed, hoisted from the water and released. The same tag would also, obviously, track the non-movement of the tournament’s tarpon after they are gaffed, towed, hoisted from the water and released. You can do the math. The PTTS already did.

The PTTS also knows those weigh boat shots, those up close and personal eye candy interviews with the jubilant team captain, make Must See TV for the folks watching at home. A perfected tarpon specific weight formula would end the need for gaff, drag and weigh. The scales could be replaced by a far less photogenic and equally boring boatside tape measure. The tarpon would obviously benefit. But what do fish know about making good TV?

Tarpon satellite tag, painted a dull color so it won't invite unwanted attention from other fish. This tarpon is about to swim free. Photo by Joe Richard © 2012

In his letter, Alford also notes that “the PTTS gains by having additional material for the TV shows, which many viewers will likely find fascinating …”

In reality, many viewers will likely find it fascinating that most of those satellite tags on those “live release” tarpon aren’t moving.

After waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a response from the PTTS, a frustrated Alford went public with his letter. He could have saved himself the stamp.

PTTS apologists will likely claim Project Tarpon has some sinister agenda. They will, given enough time, ultimately link Project Tarpon to al-Qaeda and Planned Parenthood. That this new-fangled satellite technology is unproven. That developing a tarpon specific weight formula is yet another attempt at phony baloney voodoo science. The PTTS noise machine will, predictably, drone away.

Alford unintentionally went to the heart of the debate (and ended any chance the PTTS would cooperate) by noting “killing tarpon is prohibited in many locations and certainly frowned on in most.” That in this respect, “the PTTS offers a unique opportunity.”

We didn’t know how special we were.

See for yourself. You can read Alford’s letter here. The gaff and drag Photoshop Rangers over at that other Internet place can have someone read it to them.

2011 Tarpon Tags Issued and Returned to FWC

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As we know from the previous article Sponsors – is your PTTS team obeying the law? Here’s one that didn’t even try, there is an obvious problem with how the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) participants are using (or should we say misusing or all together ignoring) the State managed and funded Tarpon Tag program.

To better illustrate the degree to which this permit has been blatantly ignored by a majority of those involved in the PTTS, we have the 2011 Tarpon Tag public records provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).  These are the records for the entire State of Florida. Also take a moment to note, of the returned cards, how many PTTS Captains do you see on this list?  Check the number of the returned tags as compared to the total number of fish weighed by the PTTS in 2011, notice anything amiss here?

PTTS Mishandling Tarpon for TV Ratings

All this mishandling of Tarpon for nothing more than higher TV ratings, and they can

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Customer Name Process Date
ABBOTT , CRAIG  W 5/17/2011
ALBANO , CATHERINE  A 5/20/2011
ALSTROM , WILLIAM  C 7/2/2010
ANDERSON , MICHAEL  T 5/18/2011
ANDRETTA , RICHARD  L 5/18/2011
BALCH , CLYDE  R 5/4/2011
BALL , CARL  VERNON 3/7/2011
BARTON , MATTHEW  T 6/1/2011
BAUGHER , ANNE  C 5/20/2011
BAUGHER , ANNE  C 6/9/2011
BEASLEY , JAMES  B 5/19/2011
BERGER , COLBY  L 5/11/2011
BISHOP , BAKER  O 5/19/2011
BISHOP , WILLIAM  D 7/12/2010
BLINCO , ANDREW  D 12/3/2010
BOLIN , MICHAEL  S 6/8/2011
BORDAS , MARTIN  EDWARD 6/14/2011
BOWER , MATTHEW  J 6/10/2011
BOWLER , STEPHEN  F 5/17/2011
BULLARA , CRAIG  P 6/17/2011
BURBACH , WILLIAM  C 5/19/2011
BURKE , MICHAEL  T 2/9/2011
BURNSED , CORDULA 4/26/2011
CAMPBELL , ROBERT  T 5/18/2011
CARTAYA , ARIANNY  S 11/10/2010
CARTER JR , ALAN  JAMES 6/8/2011
CAYO , DONALD  F 5/20/2011
CHANCEY , BENJAMIN  E 5/20/2011
CHAPMAN , CHRISTINE  HELEN 6/8/2011
CHAPMAN , JULIE  T 5/16/2011
CHIVAS , KARSON  ALEXANDER 5/26/2011
CHIVAS , KARSON  ALEXANDER 5/26/2011
CLEMENS , SCOTT  A 5/20/2011
COBLE , THANH  V 8/9/2010
COKER , FITZ  L 1/6/2011
COKER , FITZ  L 4/29/2011
COLLINS , MICHAEL  J 3/2/2011
CRIDER , CURTIS  M 5/20/2011
DEATON , DOLORES 5/17/2011
DEBRUIN , ADAM  B 3/11/2011
DENICK , DAVID  J 1/20/2011
DENICOLA , JOHN 5/20/2011
DENNIS , CLYDE  W 6/3/2011
DENNISON , DAVID  M 5/10/2011
DENNISON , DAVID  M 5/24/2011
DIAMANDI , NINO 9/27/2010
DILLINGHAM , MARK  A 5/6/2011
DINES , WILLIAM  RUSSELL 7/13/2010
DOLL , SHAY 4/1/2011
DOPIRAK , ALLAN  B 4/29/2011
DOUGLAS , RAYMOND 2/10/2011
DUNCAN , CHARLES  W 7/12/2010
DUNCAN , LESLIE  R 6/24/2011
DYER , KEVIN  A 5/4/2011
ERRA , ROBERT  L 4/19/2011
ERSCH , CYNTHIA  C 6/20/2011
FEUSTEL , JEAN-PAUL 5/20/2011
FIELD , PATRICK 6/3/2011
FISCHER , ZACHARY  C 5/20/2011
FLOYD , JESSICA  M 6/16/2011
FRENCH , ANTHONY  D 3/21/2011
FRENCH , ANTHONY  D 6/3/2011
GARN , JAMES  R 4/29/2011
GAY-LAWTON , DEBORAH  A 5/19/2011
GERZENY , ZACHARY  R 7/2/2010
GILMOUR , TERENCE  J 2/15/2011
GLOVER , KEVIN  R 7/8/2010
GOOGINS , BRYAN  C 5/19/2011
GRIFFIN , RICHARD  GEORGE 5/19/2011
GRIFFING III , STEPHEN  F 6/3/2011
GRIZZAFFE , HEATHER  N 5/17/2011
HAGAMAN , JEFFREY  T 5/9/2011
HALEY , PHILLIP  L 5/20/2011
HALEY , PHILLIP  L 5/20/2011
HALFORD , KIM  L 3/29/2011
HAND , JOHN  K 1/21/2011
HARKAVY , HEATHER  M 4/4/2011
HARLESS , ROBERT  G 6/3/2011
HART , WILLIAM  D 6/2/2011
HARTMAN , PHILIP  E 6/13/2011
HAXTER , MICHAEL 3/29/2011
HELENEK , ANTHONY  J 7/2/2010
HELENEK , DANIEL  E 5/13/2011
HERRINGTON JR , EDDIE  J 7/2/2010
HILTON , SHAWN  M 5/12/2011
HIPPS , DAVID  E 5/20/2011
HOCTEL , GARY  M 3/21/2011
HOOD , GREGORY  C 4/25/2011
HOWARD , CHARLES  P 5/25/2011
HUDDLESTON , JAMES  W 4/19/2011
HUESTON JR , RONALD  C 5/17/2011
IDE , PETER  S 10/21/2010
JOHNSON , GERARD  J 5/17/2011
JOHNSON , GERARD  J 5/25/2011
JOHNSTON , GRANT  D 6/16/2011
JOINER , GARY  W 5/20/2011
JOINER , GARY  W 6/3/2011
JONES , MELISSA  D 5/20/2011
JORDAN , RICHARD  E 5/18/2011
JUSTUS , CHARLES  P 5/20/2011
JUSTUS , SUE  M 6/15/2011
KENNICUTT , KATHERINE  ANN 5/27/2011
KILPATRICK , JOHN  S 4/29/2011
KLEIN , TIMOTHY  J 4/6/2011
KOPEL , MICHAEL  D 5/26/2011
KOPEL , MICHAEL  D 6/2/2011
LACHANCE , GREGORY  S 7/9/2010
LAMP , STEVEN 3/4/2011
LINVILLE , NATHANIEL  C 3/31/2011
LOCKE , WALTON  T 4/7/2011
LOGGINS , JOHN  L 5/31/2011
LONG , DANIEL  J 5/18/2011
LONG , DANIEL  J 6/9/2011
LONG , JAMES  E 5/17/2011
LOWREY , SAM  C 5/20/2011
MANNING , CHAD  W 6/9/2011
MANNING , JAMES  R 5/19/2011
MARSH , MARK  L 3/30/2011
MARTEL , ROLAND  P 5/11/2011
MASHKE , EDWARD  J 5/12/2011
MASSARO JR , FRANK  L 5/25/2011
MATHIEU , MARK  A 8/18/2010
MCBRIDE , BRETT  A 5/17/2011
MCKEEVER , RICHARD  A 4/6/2011
MCLAY , JOHN  P 5/10/2011
MCLAY , JOHN  P 6/1/2011
MCLOAD , MICHAEL  B 2/23/2011
MEYER , CHARLES  B 5/5/2011
MILL , ANDY  R 3/4/2011
MILLER , ASHLEND  MARIE 6/3/2011
MILLER , GARY  C 5/20/2011
MILLER , WAYNE  D 5/16/2011
MINIO , ANTHONY  J 5/27/2011
MITCHELL , GRETCHEN  J 5/12/2011
MOENNING , DANIEL  K 5/18/2011
MOENNING , DANIEL  K 5/31/2011
MOENNING , DANIEL  K 6/17/2011
MOHLER , THOMAS  LEE 3/21/2011
MORGAN , THANE 9/20/2010
MORGAN , THANE 5/12/2011
NABOZNY , STANELY 5/23/2011
NAVARRE , CARL 3/7/2011
NORMAN , SPENCER  A 5/16/2011
NORMAN , SPENCER  A 6/1/2011
NORRIS , BRETT  J 5/13/2011
NUTE , HEIDI  J 7/2/2010
NUTTER , TERENCE  J 5/10/2011
OLSON , VERN  A 5/19/2011
ONEILL , CHRISTOPHER  T 5/23/2011
PARKER , DARRICK  A 3/2/2011
PEIPER , DOUGLASS  H 6/9/2011
PERRY , JOHN  H 4/25/2011
PERRY , JOHN  H 5/20/2011
PILLINGER , MICHAEL  G 5/18/2011
PRICE , ARTHUR  H 5/27/2011
PROSEK , JAMES  O 3/3/2011
PURDY , DANWIN  M 1/21/2011
RAHIMI , SHAHROUZ 12/2/2010
REARK , MICHAEL  FREDERICK 5/12/2011
REDDING , CURTIS  F 8/2/2010
REILY , RONALD  M 5/26/2011
ROEHM , JAMES  D 7/13/2010
ROGERS , JOSEPH  E 5/19/2011
ROSATO , LINDSAY  A 5/17/2011
RUDLAFF , FRANK  R 4/27/2011
RUDOLPH , DIANA  A 5/9/2011
SANCHEZ , JOSE  R 9/17/2010
SAPP , JILL  W 6/15/2011
SCOTT , CHRISTY  M 5/27/2011
SECHRIST , RICHARD  C 5/17/2011
SEO , TAEWON 8/6/2010
SHAFRON , DAMIAN  J 5/19/2011
SHEA , DALE  J 1/21/2011
SHINNER , ERIC  MATHEW 5/19/2011
SIMPSON , ROBERT  M 3/29/2011
SINOPOLI , MICHAEL 4/27/2011
SISKA , THOMAS  A 6/6/2011
SKROVANEK , LEWIS  R 5/19/2011
SLOAN , STEPHEN  M 5/10/2011
SLONIM , CURT  DAVID 5/25/2011
SMITHART , CLARENCE  J 7/9/2010
SOOKRAJ , SEEPERSAD 8/19/2010
SPARLING , DALE  T 2/17/2011
SPINKS , JOHN  W 5/23/2011
STALVEY , BRANDY  N 5/16/2011
STALVEY , BRANDY  N 5/25/2011
STARK , DAVID  A 3/28/2011
STARK , DAVID  A 4/5/2011
STEWART , THOMAS  J 4/25/2011
STEWART , THOMAS  J 5/23/2011
STOKER , ROBERT  L 5/20/2011
SYDNOR JR , JAMES  L 5/20/2011
TARI , JASON  L 4/29/2011
THAYER , GREG  A 6/2/2011
THOMAS , SABRINA  N 5/25/2011
THOMPSON , ANDREW  S 5/19/2011
THORNHILL , CHRIS  D 3/29/2011
TIMMONS , BRIAN  J 5/19/2011
TIMMONS , BRIAN  J 6/16/2011
TODD , DONETTE  CLARK 6/13/2011
TRAVIS , ROYAL  T 6/2/2011
TYSON , ROBERT  W 6/9/2011
TYSON , ROBERT  W 6/16/2011
VANHORN , RAY  A 5/2/2011
VASILAROS , JACK  W 5/12/2011
VIZARRO , VICTOR  A 5/23/2011
WALLACE , SCOTT  A 5/10/2011
WALPOLE , SARA  E 4/14/2011
WEAVER , CRAIG  A 5/18/2011
WEBER , SCOTT  P 6/2/2011
WEEKS , MICHAEL  S 5/16/2011
WEEKS , MICHAEL  S 5/16/2011
WELLS JR , MICHAEL  D 5/26/2011
WERT , JAMIE  A 5/20/2011
WERT , JAMIE  A 6/10/2011
WHITE , JAMES  E 5/12/2011
WHITE , JAMES  E 5/25/2011
WHITE , THOMAS  QUINTON 6/2/2011
WHITWORTH , JOSEPH  JOHN 5/17/2011
WILLIAMS , BRANDON 4/29/2011
WILLIAMS , DAVID  G 4/29/2011
WILLIAMS , GARTH  F 4/29/2011
WILLIS , JAMES  R 5/11/2011
WISE , BRITTNEY  N 5/23/2011
WISE , KELLY  A 5/18/2011
WITFOTH , LISA  SWANN 5/18/2011
WITHERS , AMY  M 5/20/2011
WITTER , CONSTANCE  C 4/20/2011
WOODROFFE , WILLIAM  W 5/16/2011
ZOELLNER , VICTORIZ  E 5/6/2011

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Tags returned (as mandated by State Law) for FY 2010/2011.

Please note: those who did not return their Tarpon Tags as required within 5 days of use are prohibited to purchase future Tarpon Tags. Scroll down to review Rule.

FirstName LastName
Gregory Hood
Ben Chancey
Anne Baugher
Dale Sparling
Andrew Blinco
Chris Thurnhill
Kim Halford
John Spink
Gene White
Gene White
Phillip Hartman
Phillip Hartman
Cindy Ersch
Mike Reark
Mike Reark
Gene White
Gene White
Kelly Wise
Charles Justus,III
Charles Justus,III
Dennis Wagner
Dennis Wagner
Joeseph Whitworth
Mark Frapwell
Mark Frapwell
Mark Frapwell
Deborah Gay-Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Deborah Lawton
Eric Shinner
Eric Shinner
Thomas White
Thomas White
Michael Sinopoli
Jose Sanchez
Robert Erra
Robert Erra
Will Woodruffe
Will Woodruffe
Brandy Stalvey
Brandy Stalvey
Spencer Norman
Clarence Smithart
Jessica Floyd
Jessica Floyd
Jessica Floyd
Dan Cayo
Dan Cayo
Dan Cayo
Dave Dennison
Dave Dennison
Robert Tyson
Spencer Norman
Spencer Norman
Douglas Pieper
Dave Dennison
Jill Sapp
Dale Shea
Fitz Coker
Danwin Purdy
James Prosek
Steven Lamp
Steven Lamp
Steven Lamp
Steven Lamp
Steven Lamp
Constance Witter
Heidi Nute
Darrick Parker
Larry Sydnor
Ronald Morgan
Barry Meyer
Michael Burke
Michael Burke
Michael McLoad
James Garn
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell
Thomas Mohler
Gretchen Mitchell
Kevin Glover
Diamandi Nino
Nino Diamandi
Steve Sloan
Steve Sloan
Steve Sloan
Steve Sloan
Terence Nutter
Terence Nutter
Terence Nutter
Robert Tyson
Robert Tyson

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68B-32.003 Tarpon Tags: Required for Possession; Report; Annual Issuance; Taxidermy; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued Annually; Limitation on Number of Tags Issued to Professional Fishing Guides.

(1) No person shall take, kill, or possess any tarpon, unless such person has purchased a tarpon tag and securely attached it through the lower jaw of the fish. Within 5 days after the landing of a tagged tarpon, the person possessing it shall submit a form to the Commission (Form DMF-SL3200 (3-05), incorporated herein by reference) indicating the length, weight, and physical condition of the tarpon and the date and location where the fish was caught. Additional tags may be denied to any person or guide who fails to provide the required information.

(2) Tarpon tags are valid for the period beginning July 1 each year and continuing through June 30 of the following year or until used, whichever occurs first. Before August 15 of each year, each tax collector shall submit to the Commission all unused tags for the previous license year along with a written audit report as to the number of unused tags, on forms provided by the Commission (Form DMF-SL3210 (3-05), incorporated herein by reference). Tarpon tags are nontransferable, except for those distributed by professional fishing guides pursuant to subsection (5).

(3) Subsection (1) shall not apply to anyone who immediately returns a tarpon uninjured to the water at the place where the fish was caught. The prohibition of possession of an untagged tarpon in subsection (1) shall not apply to a taxidermist who removes the tag during the process of mounting a tarpon. The removed tag shall remain with the fish during any subsequent storage or shipment.

(4) In any license year, the total number of tarpon tags issued shall not exceed 2,500.

(5) Each professional fishing guide may purchase tarpon tags for subsequent transfer to individual customers; provided, however, that the total number of tags issued during any license year to professional fishing guides shall not exceed 1,250.

Specific Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 11-30-88, Amended 11-1-89, 10-1-90, 12-4-91, 11-26-92, 11-29-93, 1-1-95, 1-1-96, 11-27-96, 11-12-97, 11-16-98, Formerly 46-32.003, Amended 3-1-05.

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FWC defines ‘proper handing’ at June meeting

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued the following policy statement at its June meeting:

“Proper handling techniques ensure the best chance of survival. This includes returning the fish to the water as quickly as possible.”

Although the FWC was referring to snook in this instance, the statement signals the commission understands that “returning the fish to the water as quickly as possible” and “best chance of survival” doesn’t mean gaffing a snook, towing a snook to the beach, tossing a snook into a sling, weighing it, posing it for photos, dragging it to deep water and running it over with your outboard.

In other words, the PTTS definition of “proper handling techniques.”

The FWC might,  just might, have a problem explaining how all this is bad for snook, but good for tarpon.

VIEWPOINT: Gaff and drag doesn’t come with a punch line

The parody Facebook page is called “Shave The Tarpon.” Its stated goal: “Working to make Boca Grande Pass a friendly place to fish.” We’re still waiting for the friendly part to show up.

In reality, it’s little more than an online Photoshop album. Although once you navigate beyond its anti-conservation, pro-gaff and drag rhetoric, it does have its moments. Or, perhaps, its moment.

Shave The Tarpon was apparently created as a platform for a one-trick gag photo. A picture taken from the water shows Save The Tarpon supporters on the beach standing next to the PTTS weigh boat. They were there as a result of a social media campaign that surpassed 1,000 members and continues to grow.

The image was Photoshopped to alter the messages on the signs that were being carried by those attending the rally. One Photoshopped placard bore a baffling and cryptic attempt to make religious intolerance funny. ROFLMAO.

This image, created to mock Boca Grande residents, was pulled from the Shave the Tarpon page and illustrates the contemptuous culture bred by the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS).

That one aside, it was a pretty clever piece of work. But once the chuckles subsided, the author of the Facebook page obviously had a problem: What to do next? The answer: Quit while you’re ahead.

A joke can only be stretched so far before it ultimately blows up in your face. The next attempt, a copyright infringement featuring “Rocky the Flying Squirrelfish,” probably merited a few LOLs. But the creators of this one really shouldn’t give up their day jobs.

The rest of the page doesn’t, as they say, bring the funny. It doesn’t bring much of anything. Even Rocket J. Squirrel gets it. Once the cheap gags run dry, there really isn’t much that’s funny about what the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series is doing in Boca Grande Pass.

It’s tough to find funny in a photo of a tarpon with a gaff through its head. There aren’t many belly laughs in a picture of a dead and eyeless PTTS tarpon gutted to make it sink from view. And while a video of some poor soul pretending to revive a dead tarpon might be amusing in a ridiculous sort of way, it really isn’t. It’s actually pretty pathetic.

There isn’t much of a future in dead tarpon comedy. And it’s tough trying to parody a fishing tournament that’s already a parody of itself. Or the Daytona 500. It’s not likely Florida’s sportsmen are finding much in the way of side splitting humor knowing their money is going to subsidize a wasteful and unenforceable tarpon tag program that exists soley for the benefit of a low rent cable TV show.

The “Darth Baiter” idea worked as a play on the Star Wars character, but even the creators of this copyright infringement know Save The Tarpon isn’t about live bait versus no bait. It’s about ending gaff and drag. It’s not about cheap-laugh caricatures of traditional fishing guides. It’s about ending gaff and drag. It’s not about tortured attempts at photo caption hilarity, it’s about ending gaff and drag.

And that’s their problem. Deep down inside they know there’s nothing funny about gaff and drag. Dead tarpon don’t come with a punchline. A dozen boats running down a pod of fish doesn’t work with a laugh track. It’s pretty tough to build a sitcom around the gruesome shark attacks the PTTS promotes in its slick video pitch to advertisers.

But it’s just a Facebook page. One of millions of Facebook pages, most devoted to posting photos of cute kittens and playful puppies. Now and then one will come along that’s truly funny. Considering the seriousness of what’s at stake, however, Shave The Tarpon isn’t one of them – even though that Photoshopped crowd shot was pretty good.

At the end of the day, however, there’s still nothing funny about dead tarpon. You really should have stopped while you were ahead.

Sponsors – is your PTTS team obeying the law? Here’s one that didn’t even try

Miller's Ale HouseHats off to the Miller’s Ale House PTTS team captained by Artie Price. His Miller’s Ale House team caught and weighed a 154 pound tarpon to win Week 2 of the PTTS 2011 season.

But Price didn’t get the job done all by himself. The Miller’s Ale House PTTS team of Greg Devault and Frank Massaro, both of New Port Richey, plus Myakka’s Jon Turner also share credit for “gettin’ ‘er done.”

Unfortunately for Miller’s Ale House, the boys aboard Price’s Miller’s Ale House boat left Miller’s Ale House with something of a public relations black eye where Florida law is concerned. You see, the boys aboard Price’s Miller’s Ale House boat didn’t really get the job done that week. Not the whole job. They probably guessed nobody would notice.

Putting a $50 tarpon tag on that 154-pounder they weighed got just half the job done for the Miller’s Ale House team. But FWC regulations say, quite clearly, that the Miller’s Ale House team was required by law to finish the job by returning a tag card to the state within five days of its Miller’s Ale House 2011 Week 2 PTTS victory. These cards, to be filled out by the angler who “possessed” the tarpon, help the FWC with its conservation efforts. Especially in Boca Grande Pass. The tag cards tell FWC researchers where the fish was caught, its condition, its size and other useful tarpon conservation information. Useful, only if someone cares enough and takes the time to put the tag card in the mail.

See a list of all tags issued and returned in 2010/2011 here.

According to FWC records, Miller’s Ale House captain Artie Price never returned the required tag card for that tarpon the Miller’s Ale House team caught in Week 2. Miller’s Ale House team member Greg Devault never returned the required tag card for that tarpon the Miller’s Ale House team caught in Week 2. Miller’s Ale House team member Jon Turner never returned a tag for that tarpon the Miller’s Ale House team caught in Week 2. Miller’s Ale House team member Frank Massaro never returned a tag for that tarpon the Miller’s Ale House team caught in Week 2.

Here's one of the tarpon which Team Ale House weighed without using a legal tarpon tag.

 

In fact, it seems nobody aboard the boat sponsored by Miller’s Ale House bothered to return a card for that 154-pound tarpon the Miller’s Ale House team caught in Week 2 of the PTTS. Or, for that matter, any other week during the 2011 PTTS season. Cards returned for tarpon caught last year in Boca Grande Pass: 38. Cards returned last year for tarpon caught in Boca Grande Pass by the Miller’s Ale House team of Price, Devault, Turner and Massaro: 0. That’s zero. Zilch. Nada. None.

According to FWC records the Miller’s Ale House team never caught that 154-pounder. According to FWC records the Miller’s Ale House team didn’t capture, gaff, drag and weigh that 154-pounder. According to FWC records the Miller’s Ale House team couldn’t have won Week 2 of the 2011 PTTS, Miller’s Ale House couldn’t have won that nice new boat. That’s because, according to FWC records, Miller’s Ale House wasn’t there. According to FWC records, in 2011 the Miller’s Ale House team didn’t exist.

Except it did. It was on the TV.

The Miller’s Ale House team that went out and got the job done in Week 2 couldn’t be bothered to take the time or make the effort to get the whole job done as state law requires. But we understand. Filling out those forms, putting them in an envelope, spending money on stamps and hiking these things out to the mailbox can be inconvenient and expensive for a Miller’s Ale House team whose career PTTS winnings as of Week 2 of the 2011 season totaled a scant $300,000.

And really, who’s going to notice? Where tarpon regulations are concerned, it’s easy for teams like Miller’s Ale House to get away with just about anything with a wink and a nod. And even though FWC regulations state that failure to return a tag card can cost you the privilege of purchasing future possession tags and weighing fish in future PTTS tournaments, nobody in Tallahassee is paying attention to any of this. Either is the PTTS. Either, apparently, is Miller’s Ale House. Maybe they should.

In 2011 the tarpon tag program generated little more than $15,000 for the FWC. Care to guess how much the FWC spent on administrative and other costs associated with the tarpon tag? Care to guess what four letters benefitted most from what, in reality, is a financial drain on an agency that can better use its resources just about anywhere else than subsidizing a television show?

Sponsors like Miller’s Ale House need to spend a little time questioning what’s going on in their name in Boca Grande Pass, what’s going on their name in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and what’s going on in their name aboard the boats bearing their name.

If a law so simple and basic and beneficial as returning a tarpon tag card to the state agency that oversees Florida’s conservation efforts is being so blatantly ignored, it should give sponsors pause to ask what else is or isn’t happening inside this sports exhibition called the PTTS? Are those aboard all those boats all wrapped up in all those logos for all those folks at home to see really playing by the rules, following the regulations and obeying the law?

Is it honestly worth taking the chance that their team, their PTTS, their television show and, by association, their valuable brand name might – like team Miller’s Ale House – not be getting the whole job done?

FWC and Mote Marine Clarify position on PTTS, Ingman’s and Mercurio’s lies exposed

Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 with statement from Mote Marine.
Mote Marine & FWC

Over the last several years those following the PTTS, and the controversy around it, have often heard the statement that the “PTTS is backed by FWC and Mote.”  As a matter of fact, this exact statement is a quote attributed to none other than Mr. Gary Ingman himself, as published in the Englewood Sun on Monday June 18, 2012.  Apparently the writer of the article, Drew Winchester, did not take it upon himself to contact FWC or Mote Marine to verify this outlandish statement.  We did, and here is what we found.

We contacted FWC and were put in contact with Amanda Nalley, a spokesperson for FWC. We were quickly and clearly informed that the FWC does not sanction, endorse, support, or back the PTTS. They attend the events in a law enforcement position, and have one biologist on site to collect samples. FWC also does not condemn the event, but “certainly does not back or support it in any way.”  Ms. Nalley also went on to say “What the PTTS does is legal, but our position is that if you are going to release a fish that you do so immediately and that you do not gaff, drag, tow, remove from the water, or otherwise excessively handle the fish. Especially with large fish such as Tarpon.”  This sentiment is reflected very clearly on the FWC website and in several publications relating to proper fish handling.

What did Mote Marine Laboratory &  Aquarium of Sarasota, Florida have to say about “backing” the PTTS?  “Mote does NOT help organize, endorse or receive funding from any tournament.” says Hayley Rutger, public relations coordinator for Mote.  She also went on to say that their official position is  “More research is needed to understand how two common fishing techniques — jig fishing and live bait — affect tarpon or the tarpon fishery.”  We at SaveTheTarpon.com couldn’t agree more!

Mr. Ingman and Mr. Mercurio have been quoted, and published in their own words, that both FWC and Mote Marine Lab support, endorse, back, or “oversee” their events.  As a matter of fact it has been one of the most compelling arguments echoed throughout the PTTS community.  We think its time that the PTTS start explaining to its participants, followers, and critics just what they meant by those statements.

 

PTTS Sponsors Wishing to be Removed From the Boycott/Protest list

Dear PTTS sponsors,

We have received many email inquiries from businesses wishing to “quietly walk away” who may or may not agree with our opinions or methods, but wish to remove themselves from the controversy.  Several have expressed the opinion they personally wish to remove their sponsorship, but have ongoing relationships with individuals and other businesses who may remain affiliated with the event, we respect this position entirely.

The boycott and protest campaigns organized and supported by Save the Tarpon, Inc are not meant to do damage to businesses. They are meant to express the free will of the consumer and show our displeasure with your business’s support of what we feel is a destructive and unethical event.  We are well aware of the potential damage that can be done by a protest, and in this respect we would not wish to continue to promote a boycott of any business that is not involved in the PTTS.

We have started a telephone and email campaign to notify businesses of this position and to allow them sufficient notice so that they may make a final decision about their affiliation with the PTTS.  This is not blackmail and there is no ultimatum stating that you must remove your sponsorship ‘or else.’  Through our contact with many sponsors, the opinion of most is that they have not been properly informed regarding the controversy surrounding the PTTS and its methods. This phone campaign is to help not only inform sponsors of our position, as stated by us, not by our detractors.  It also provides notice to the business so they have time to remove themselves from the list, as well as providing them the information below as to how they can be removed from the listing.

Our primary mission is to promote awareness of the damage being caused by PTTS to the Boca Grande Tarpon fishery, the community, and its heritage.  Many sponsors we have contacted are offended by our methods stating that they agree with our position (after reading some of our materials or actually taking the time to speak with us, to those who have we thank you graciously).  That being said, it takes only moments online to find numerous negative or controversial reports from many reputable sources in the media with regards to the PTTS.  Among them, you will not find a single in support of the event that does not come from someone with a vested interest in the event. Those businesses must also shoulder some of the blame, as much of this controversy has been known for years.

You may not agree with our methods, but we don’t think that any of those who have taken the time to contact us will say that we are irrational or untrustworthy.  We do hold 100% by our convictions, and out of fairness we do not show any favortism towards sponsors of the event.  Many of us have friends, acquaintances, business contacts, and even family participating in and supporting the PTTS.  This is not an attack on these individuals or on their personal businesses, but rather is an attack on the revenue stream of those profiting from the destruction of a natural resource that we all feel very passionately about.  The following requirements and stipulations will be upheld and enforced equally among all sponsors, no matter the size, relationship to members, etc.

Though some businesses chose to support our mission, others wish only to be free of the controversy.  We respect both positions equally.  We will take the time to outline a very simple process for removing yourself from the list:

  1. Notify us via email  (contact@savethetarpon.com Attn: Boycott) that you will not be participating in 2013.  You may give us a reason, tell us your are pleased with our mission, let us know how much you hate us, or say nothing. Believe it or not, we greatly value your constructive feedback.
  2. Let us know if you would like us to announce your removal publicly.  We will make no public mention of your removal from the tournament and will simply take you off the boycott/blacklist/protest list if you do not request us to make a statement.  Your email will remain 100% confidential providing that the business in question actually follows through with their removal from the 2013 event.  You are welcome to prepare a public statement separate from your email if you are so inclined. * No public statement is required.*
  3. We will keep all correspondence between your business and Save the Tarpon, Inc strictly confidential.  Those of you that have taken the time to speak with some of our members on the phone can attest to our ethics on this.

 

Sincerely,

SaveTheTarpon.com members

Project Tarpon requested assistance from PTTS in satellite tagging program.

This message was sent to us from Alan Scott Alford of Project Tarpon:

I help spearhead the satellite tagging of tarpon in Texas and work with BTT and the University of Miami on the efforts in Texas and elsewhere (Nicaragua etc.).  I talked with Joe M. a couple years back about possibly placing satellite tags in fish during the PTTS.  He seemed somewhat receptive to possibly doing it.  In early May of 2012, I sent the PTTS and Joe M. a letter…. asking for their consent to allow us to satellite tarpon caught and weighed in the tournament.  It received no response.  It would seem that satellite tagging of tarpon would be good publicity and make for great TV.  It would have cost the PTTS nothing.  Also, wouldn’t this have answered the question, once and for all?  Why didn’t they agree?  I am making this letter public, because I think it is important to the discussion that the PTTS never responded.

Please feel free to share our letter and the link below.  Some may find it interesting.

Project Tarpon’s Letter to the PTTS

 

 

 

 

Save the Tarpon Supporters Show Up in Top Form to Protest the PTTS

Early reports of today’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS) protest are coming in. Starting with the first “release” floating up on the beach. There will be videos, photos and stories coming. For all those who attended the event, good work!

If you attended the protest and captured any of today’s events, please forward us your story, photos and videos as we work to compile all of the evidence.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Calls for Responsible Tournament Angling

(Originally published in the Boca Beacon on June 8, 2012)

Responsible Catch and Release is Essential 

The use of catch and release as a conservation tool to ensure healthy recreational fisheries for the future has become standard throughout the world of recreational fisheries. The catch and release ethic is especially apparent in the world-class tarpon fishery of Florida, where virtually all tarpon are released. However, catch and release is only a valid conservation tool if it is practiced correctly so that most fish that are released survive. Sadly, the catch and release practices of some in the tarpon fishery are likely decreasing survival of released tarpon and should be curtailed in deference to the ethic of responsible fishing.

Bonefish Tarpon TrustResearch on catch and release fishing generally shows that the amount and type of handling of fish after being caught and before being released is an important factor in determining the fish’s likelihood of survival after release. In general, fish that are kept in the water and handled minimally do best, while fish that are handled extensively and exposed to air for long periods of time don’t fare well.

Despite the availability of tarpon harvest tags in Florida (each $50 tag allows the harvest of a tarpon), the harvest of tarpon in Florida– whether by individual anglers or by tournaments – has declined to nearly zero in recent years. This is great news for tarpon: tarpon are late to become sexually mature (approximately 8 – 12 years old) and can live a long time (potentially to 80 years), which makes them especially susceptible to harvest. This makes it even more important to use proper catch and release practices when fishing for tarpon – so we can continue to enjoy the best tarpon fishing in the world.

Some mishandling of fish during catch and release is simply a matter of an angler not knowing about proper catch and release handling practices. This is why Bonefish & Tarpon Trust expends significant effort educating anglers about proper catch and release practices. This education effort by BTT and others is paying off with improving catch and release practices by recreational anglers. Unfortunately, in other instances proper handling practices are purposefully not followed, which is a real cause for concern.

Given the overwhelming support for catch and release of tarpon, it is puzzling why anglers would engage in practices that very likely cause high mortality of tarpon after release – the towing of caught tarpon to a weigh station as part of a tournament. Although data on the effects of towing tarpon are scant, the preliminary data that do exist suggest that towed tarpon exhibit much higher levels of physiological stress than do tarpon that are caught and released but not towed. Moreover, since we know that, in general, more handling time equals lower survival for caught and released fish, it makes sense that increasing the handling time by towing and weighing tarpon will likely decrease survival. The responsible and prudent approach is to reduce handling time, and therefore not engage in towing of tarpon prior to release.

Gary Ingman PTTS Ingman Marine

Gary Ingman, pictured above, makes sure all is right when the cameras are rolling for his TV show, the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. This process of dragging and weighing the fish is extremely damaging to the Tarpon and will most likely result in its death.

The requirement for a weigh-in is especially puzzling given that accurate weights can be obtained by applying measurements of a fish’s length and girth to a formula that is specific to tarpon. This formula, created by University of iami scientists based on measurements of hundreds of tarpon, is accurate to within a couple of pounds. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has this formula available via an iPhone app or water-resistant weight conversion cards.

This letter is not a statement on tournaments, but is instead a call for all tarpon anglers to follow catch and release practices that maximize the survival of tarpon after release. This should be the goal of all recreational tarpon anglers, and especially of entities that host events that rely on a healthy tarpon fishery.

In closing, a tip of the hat to the highly responsible, talented guides of Boca Grande Pass who practice good catch and release, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s ongoing tarpon conservation research, each contributing to a sustainable fishery.

Sincerely,

Aaron Adams, Ph.D.

Director of Operations

 

About Bonefish & Tarpon Trust

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is a non-profit, science-based conservation organization dedicated to ensuring that bonefish, tarpon, and permit populations, and the fisheries they support, remain healthy and helping to restore the fisheries that have declined. BTT accomplishes this mission by funding conservation-focused research; working with local, national, and regional resource management agencies to improve regulations to protect these fisheries; and funding and conducting education of anglers and the public.  BTT uses scientific findings to advocate for fisheries conservation and works to ensure coastal habitats used by bonefish, tarpon, and permit are protected.  For more information visit the BTT website at www.tarbone.org.