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.

Dear Yamaha Motors, Your Actions are Disgusting Us. Stop Sponsoring the PTTS!

Yamaha Motors Puts Profits before PrinciplesBelow is yet another letter sent to Yamaha Motor Corporation regarding their participation in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series (PTTS).    Call, email, or post a comment at the bottom of this post.  Let Yamaha Motors know Mr. Cannella is not alone on this.

And thank you Mr. Cannella for taking the time to voice your concerns to Yamaha Motor Company and allowing us to post a copy for our audience.

To all of the backers of the Save the Tarpon movement: Lets hold these companies and their brands accountable.  Oh, and please remember, Yamaha Motors also owns Skeeter Boats. Skeeter Boats are given as the Grand Prizes in the tournament.

From: Norman Cannella
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 2:22 PM
To:ben_speciale@yamaha-motor.com
Subject: Boca Grande Pass, Florida and the Tarpon

Mr. Speciale:

Allow me to introduce myself. I am nearly seventy years old. A lawyer for the last thirty-nine years. A retired United State Navy Commander. A life-long fisherman. A resident of Tampa, Florida for all of my life save the time I was on active duty with the Navy.  I own property on Gasparilla Island and travel weekly from my Tampa home to Boca Grande. I fish every weekend.

At a very early age, and before the bridge was built to allow vehicle access to Gasparilla Island, I was fishing the waters around the Island. In the late nineteen fifties a bridge and causeway were built and the Island changed. For many, many years preceding the bridge Boca Grande, as the Island is known, was historically world known for tarpon fishing in the pass. The method of tarpon fishing developed beginning in the early nineteen twenties involved live bait and a controlled drift.

Approximately fifteen to twenty years ago breakaway jig fishing was unfortunately introduced. More unfortunate was the influx of out of the area guides employing outboards in an nontraditional and dangerous fashion. Because of the “success” of breakaway jig fishing and the advent of outdoor television shows, Joe Mercurio, along with Gary Ingman, a man I am certain you know, created several corporations which sponsor and sell the film of their Professional Tarpon Tournament Series.

Tarpon, for over one hundred years, have been favoring Boca Grande Pass on their yearly migrations.Most all of the tarpon over one hundred pounds are females. Moreover, a tarpon of one hundred pounds an larger are old. Of course it is impossible to precisely age the fish, it is not uncommon for a large tarpon to be fifty to sixty years in the water. Therefore, many of the fish visiting Boca Grande have been doing so for quite some time.

I doubt if you have been present for one of the PTTS events. If you haven’t, you should attend. After all, you do lend your corporate name to the list of sponsors. The event is nothing but a spectacle. The method and means of fishing is embarrassing to say the least. Well over fifty outboards continuously motor about looking at bottom machines for the sign of tarpon below. You do know outboards exhaust underwater. As soon as fish are located, down go the jigs fished on light line in order to maintain the line as vertical as possible, If the fish move, the fleet moves; that beat goes on for hours. Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are usually present for the spectacles. One, however, never sees these enforcers of the law venture into the midst of the melee to check for compliance with rules and regulations of the Commission. Why? It simply is too dangerous.

A great majority of the hook-ups are from outside in rather than the traditional inside out. An outside in hook-up would be snagging but for the law defining snatching which requires a treble hook.

Tarpon are not dumb. To put it bluntly, if the fifty or more outboards continue to hover over these tarpon, they will soon alter their migration habits and there will be no more tarpon of Boca Grande.

The heat is on PTTS. Mr. Mercurio recently wrote a team is in place at the shore where the tarpon are weighed and photographed after being towed for distances of up to seven and eight hundred yards. Mercurio writes the team is present to see the fish survives. It has been documented over the years that after each tournament slaughter dead egg filled females are found either washed ashore or floating interestingly without the required tarpon tag.
Many supporters of PTTS take the position the resource is public and for everyone’s use. If the PTTS continues, there will be no resource for the public.

I own a Yamaha outboard. If the PTTS is not stopped, I will never own another Yamaha product not will I drink another Miller product or step foot into one of the boats manufactured by a boat sponsor or any other product or service associated with a sponsor of the PTTS. Many concerned people, not just tarpon fisher people, feel the same way. Do the right thing for the future of the tarpon fishery at Boca Grande. Say good bye to Joe Mercurio and Gary Ingman’s PTTS.