With the Saint Lucia International Billfish Tournament only days away, organiser Annie Hamu has high expectations for the island’s signature annual sport-fishing event slated from Sept 30 – Oct 4 at IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
Along with the excitement of three fiercely competitive days of fishing, the team has added a week long Fishing Expo featuring international participants who have offered their expertise and services to give fishermen, anglers and the general public information and knowledge about the fishing industry, with a view to growing and developing the sector in the Southern Caribbean region.
Conservation and sustainability are central to the philosophy of the Saint Lucia Game Fishing Association. Recognising the urgent need to protect the marine environment and its billfish population, which is under threat of depletion through commercial fishing moreso than sport fishing, the organisers of the tournament are particularly looking forward to the education opportunities built into this year’s program.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) will conduct an Observer Course for local members of the fishing fraternity on Saturday, Oct 5th. The IGFA course fee will be reduced from US$150 to only US$50 if more than 25 participants sign up, and is highly recommended for any stakeholder in the fishing industry, regardless of their level of experience.
SLGFA is keen to emphasise the potential learning opportunities and expertise on offer for local fishing stakeholders, and an open invitation is extended to any and everyone to take advantage of the international experts and their experiences which have had major impact on the growth of the sport in other regions of the world. Ms Hamu states: “These experts are passionate about marine conservation and creating a sustainable industry, and they are coming to Saint Lucia to help. I hope that as many local fishermen and interested persons as possible will take advantage of the opportunity”.
The Billfish Tournament starts at 7am on Tuesday morning, with a fleet of twenty-five participating boats expected. Highlights of the five-day event include:
Tony DiGiulian of Saltwater Professional Consulting will direct and produce the tournament expo to educate fishing enthusiasts and interested parties on the importance of conservation, and introduce facts and figures on how the growth of St. Lucia’s fishing industry can benefit the island’s economy.
The Billfish Foundation will hold a workshop on conservation efforts for the fishing industry. Dr. Ellen Peel has attended other regional tournaments and has much needed information for the protection for the future of fishing in the Caribbean.
Tony Ludovico, the underwater free diver and world-renowned photographer, will be on hand all week to share his ocean adventures. The underwater images he has taken around the world are incredible, and Tony’s photo and videography services will be auctioned for charity daily to the highest bidding team.
Peter Agardy is a marine life artist who will be offering his beautiful, one of a kind artwork for pubic sale. He will be available to talk about his experiences about painting and the ocean. He will also participate in teaching painting to the children on Kids Fun Day.
Pelagic Gear will be selling their top of the line marine wear and gear. Pelagic has all your long sleeve tees, caps, tshirts, board shorts etc to keep you protected and looking good both on the water and on shore!
Bikini Bombshell Contest in conjunction with the Star’s 2-Nite Magazine on Wednesday, Oct 2nd at IGY Rodney Bay Marina will search first annual Billfish Calendar Girl.
Kids Fun Fishing Day will be held on Saturday, October 5th from 1pm at IGY Rodney Bay Marina, to educate and engage children in basic fishing skills and marine life.
The International Billfish Tournament Weighstation closes Friday, Oct 5pm with Awards Ceremony and Prize Giving at 6pm.