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Get Captain Tred Barta's opinions on the ethics of large money Calcutta tournaments where billfish are piled on the docks. Is it right to kill majestic billfish in calcutta kill tournaments one day and then promote conservation in the next breath. How does this affect the ideas we try to teach our children and the future condition of our fish stocks? Are these tournaments the right thing to do for ourselves and to ensure the future of our sport? Discuss Tred's opinions and your own to look at this controversial facet of big game sportfishing.
Last edited by Jer; 09-25-2008 at 10:58 PM.
Morehead City, NC - 2008
What if you eat the fish that you killed in that tournament. We entered the WMO, caught a white, killed it and ate it. You know what, it was delicious. We grilled, baked, smoked and even ate a couple of pieces raw. Every way we prepared it was enjoyable. But that is the only white we have killed.
Quite frankly it may have backlashed because my wife wants me to bring another one home before the season ends.
Point I am making is that if you eat what you kill then I don't feel it is wrong. Secondly - If you happen to make a million bucks doing it, I don't think that is wrong either.
I really don't understand the twisted morality.....
Kill a BFT - great job.
Kill a YFT- great job.
Kill a sword - great job.
Kill a wahoo - great job.
Kill a mahi - great job.
Kill an eyeball - great job.
Kill a mako - great job.
Kill a billfish - you SOB, why did you kill it, you are going to hell now!!!!!
As long as the kill is within the regs, tell the Capt great job, otherwise, take the issue with fishery management organizations, not the individual angler who stayed within the legal regs. I have yet to hear a valid arugment as to why billfish deserve some sort of elevated status over other pelagics.
Now me personally, I've tasted a marlin, not bad eating fish but not the best either. There are plenty out there that eat better so I release marlin because of this and not because of some of double standard morality.
Just my 2 cents.
While I may also disagree with some of the principles of calcutta/kill tournaments, I wouldn't go as far as to say they are "a cancer on our sport." That's crossing the line into sensationalism. I'd like to point out a few things.
You mention that billfish are illegal to sell in the United States as a food fish--this is incorrect. Atlantic billfish are illegal to sell. A recent study done by the IGFA documented that the US was the largest importer in the world of billfish from Costa Rica. There is still a huge market in our country for Pacific billfish species, which must be eliminated as quickly as possible. It's supply and demand: if the demand for Pacific marlin and sailfish dries up, the price goes down to the point where it's no longer feasible for the longliners in the Pacific to fish for them. In Hawaii, it's still common for a day charter, not even fishing in a tournament, to kill a marlin to sell on the docks at the end of the day.The same holds true for Cabo San Lucas, where each charter boat is allowed to take one striped marlin per day for sale (and if you've ever been to Cabo, you know there are 200+ charter boats there). Outlaw this sale and the fleet would go 100 percent release the next day.
Tournaments in general fund a tremendous amount of the current conservation efforts for billfish species around the world, everything from TBF to the Adopt-A-Billfish program. The members of Ducks Unlimited spend a tremendous amount of time and money on waterfowl conservation, yet they think nothing of going out and shooting those same ducks, within the legal season and bag limits and under the increasingly strict state and federal restrictions on gear (steel shot, etc).
Finally, the vast majority of tournament-caught billfish are released, something on the order of 90-plus percent. The very few large fish that are killed for money are still a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the number that are killed by commercial longlining. Tournament anglers are now mandated to use circle hooks in anything other than artificial lures to ensure that the 90-plus percent of billfish released are done so in as good a shape as possible.
I would rather see you use your personality and energy to fight the real cause of worldwide billfish stock decline, and that's high-seas commercial longlining and purse seining.
Thank you for reading,
Last edited by Swami; 10-08-2008 at 10:36 AM.
While I agree with the hypocricy that is the kill tourney is twisted I don't see that they're entirely bad things... I see a post above that points out it's perfectly acceptible to kill other species but billfish are "hands off".
Yes they are majestic. No they aren't considered food fish... But... In fact they are good eating. Will I go out of my way to kill one for the table? Hell no... Theres plenty of good eating species to be had... BUT... If I do kill one in the line of earning my living, it will be consumed to the bone as any other fish.
We teach our kids to drive safely and obey speed limits. Then on Sunday we sit them down and watch a NASCAR Race. We teach them to be kind and gentle but on another Sunday we sit them down to watch enormous men crush each other in a football game. Its competition... Thats where the distiction needs to be made clear.
Much of a tournaments income is generated from people comming to the docks to watch weigh ins. Vendors of all kinds benefit. The sleepy little towns that host the events transform and boost their economies from the gathered crowd. While all release formats do work, the crowds are not going to gather in the numbers to count flags hanging from the riggers of the fleet. Thats one benefit of a kill tournament.
While I agree that killing billfish is not a good thing, the diminutive amount of them that show up on the docks really doesn't represent an amount that can adversely affect stocks. There are all kinds of factors both natural and man made that deplete stocks with much greater impact. The number of dead fish total on the dock in the competitions repesents less than a single mis laid long line set, one poorly aimed purse sein haul, or what a single slob mako can consume in a year.
I get paid to fish tournaments. Most are release format while a couple are not. I'm delighted to see release rules toughened involving digital photography with "Time- date-stamp" and "verification" shot to count. Takes a lot of the "cheating" potential out of the game... I also see that there is potential to appease a crowd if a tournament was to to display the shots on a big screen... Maybe even along with video... So there is a way around "kill". Until that happens though, a handfull of dead fish that will be eaten is not "a cancer" in my view as long as the seperation between "competition" and "recreation" is spelled out clearly.
We have come a long way. Is it perfect? No... But its a whole lot better than the days we just stacked mountains of fish on the docks to run up our "tonnage" totals...
Deep & Swami said it very well...and that too is my stand.
I do understand your point of view that's for sure. And especially respect your hunting tactics. The whole grainfields, greenfields or whatever, feeders, shooting houses and the like...I just don't see the sport, but then I've never hunted, so I can not comment very well from my position of ignorance. But really...shooting an animal that you've kinda trained to come eat and then one day shooting it with a rifle, from a hundred or so yards (or less!!) has never impressed or appealed to me. Unless I'm starving to death or living off the land totally.
Stalking it with bow and home-made arrows, that's impressive.
I do think that fisherman like most of the tournament guys are conservation minded and do care about the plight of billfish in general and are passionate about their survival. The real battle IMHO, is like Swami mentioned...longlines and gill/purse nets.
I've read somewhere (not to be-little the fact, but here goes) that the average marlin over, I think he or she said 500 lbs. carries eggs that are for the most part infertile or just plain old and incapable of being fertilized effectively. How do we check on that stat? Sure would make this a moot point to some extent....can't get that lucky huh? We sure do need all the eggs we can though.
I do wonder, with all respect, how a 25 year old Tred would respond to your video...which again, made some great points, and we thank you for posting that.
I don't see how billfish tournaments can be called a "cancer" on the sport or how they will significantly affect the billfish population. Just looked up the statistics from the 2008 White
Marlin Open in Ocean City Md.
300 boats fished.
White marlin 349 16
Blue marlin 23 3
Total 387 19
Millions of dollars in prize money, 300 boats.
19 Billfish killed.
Hardly a bloodbath.
With the number of released fish it would seem that the captains and crews of the boats fishing have a pretty good idea as to what a qualifying fish is.
As to teaching Kids about conservation.
Conservation is not about "You can't take any", It's about not taking to much. Tournament fishing or meat fishing, As long as you are not taking more than you can use I don't see a conflict here.
If other tournaments are killing excessive numbers of billfish,
Perhaps the answer is to set higher size and weight limits in these tournaments, Not eliminate the tournament.
Just my opinion.