The South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, entering its 18th season, will feature five tournaments along the coast beginning May 3rd at Edisto Island and ending July 1 at the Charleston City Marina’s HMY/Viking MegaDock Billfishing Tournament.
This year, the Governor’s Cup Advisory Board, in an effort to continue a strong conservation ethic to protect the blue marlin, will award Series points only for blue marlin landed that measure 115 inches or greater, from the fork of the tail, to the tip of the lower jaw. The average length of the blue marlin brought to the dock during the 2005 Series was 116 inches, with one fish measuring 134 inches. Four of the five tournaments this season have advised that they will adopt this new size limit for the blue marlin. They have plans to implement alternative scoring procedures to promote this change and guarantee winners without harvesting fish less than 115 inches.
Advisory Board Chairman John Darby said, "It is important to emphasize to the Governor's Cup participants that the recent change was made in an effort to further protect this wonderful game fish and to be a leader in conservation. The participants are encouraged to provide feedback to help improve the Series."
Another Series rule change implemented this year pertains to the Outstanding Tuna Award. Previously the award has applied only to yellowfin tuna, and this year, all legal tuna species will be eligible for the award. This does not affect the Blue Water Conservation Award, which will continue to recognize and award points for yellowfin tuna only.
Advisory Board Vice Chairman Francis Johnson said, “The Governor's Cup rule changes are a big step in the right direction for conservation. South Carolina continues to be a leader in conservation for marine fisheries.”
For more information on the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series contact Tom DuPré of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tournament dates and contacts for the upcoming 2006 18th Annual South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series are:
“The Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series encourages the catch and release of blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish, as well as tuna, dolphin and wahoo,” said Tom DuPré, who helps coordinate the tournament series.
Prior to the Governor's Cup, less than ten percent of billfish caught were released. Inspired by the conservation message of the Series, anglers are now tagging or releasing record numbers of billfish caught in South Carolina waters. Funds from each tournament are used to support a broad range of marine fisheries research and conservation efforts each year through the Wallace F. Pate Memorial Fund.
Boats participating in the Series amass points for billfish either landed, tagged, or released. Anglers compete for four major awards: Outstanding Billfish (single heaviest billfish), Outstanding Billfish Boat (most accumulated points) and Outstanding Billfish Conservationist (most points for tagged or released fish), and the Blue Water Conservation Award (most accumulated tag and release points for dolphin, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna).
“The Governor’s Cup encourages family participation and conservation of our ocean’s resources,” DuPré said. “By awarding points for the release of fish, the Series rewards anglers who properly land and release these magnificent fish, while at the same time promoting the South Carolina sportfishing industry, coastal tourism and the coastal economy.”
By encouraging live tag and release, the Series has focused attention on the sharp decline of Atlantic billfish and encouraged conservation of all marine resources.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement officers remind the public of Coast Watch, which was developed to better help citizens report violations of saltwater recreational and commercial fishing laws, as well as marine environmental laws. The Coast Watch hotline number (1-800-922- 5431) is toll-free and available 24 hours a day.