United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) is working with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) to help educate and train people to become certified IGFA Certified Observers. A one-day IGFA Observer Training Course is scheduled for Saturday, February 21 beginning at 9 a.m. The location, the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, is centrally located and easily reached by anglers from Los Angeles to San Diego.
IGFA observers are used during fishing tournaments across the Southland and worldwide to ensure adherence to specific tournament event regulations, fish and game laws, and IGFA guidelines. Their position is one of considerable responsibility and influence, having the ability to confirm or disqualify tournament catches based their judgment of proper equipment, techniques and sportsmanship.
The IGFA's Observer Training Course (OTC) began as a conservation initiative to allow offshore billfish tournaments the option to go to a 100% release format with trained and experienced observers on board to verify catches and educate anglers about IGFA angling rules. With the decline of many billfish stocks, the importance of release formats in tournaments has increased. As release tournaments become more common and cash payouts increase, unbiased observers become vital in reporting rule infractions as well as for identifying billfish species. Observers can often benefit anglers by preventing inadvertent rule infractions before they even happen. In addition, having observers that are trained to identify billfish species under frantic tournament conditions virtually eliminates the need to bring back dead fish to the dock for official scoring.
"The IGFA has long promoted the conservation ethic and the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play in big game fishing," said John Riordan, seminar organizer, avid angler and member of the UASC Board of Directors. Especially today, when so many marlin tournaments here and around the world are catch and release, it's important that anglers follow the rules and hook, fight and land fish in a manner that maximizes their chance of survival. Having IGFA Certified Observers onboard is a very important part of this equation, and the goals of this program are very much in keeping with UASC's conservation values," added Riordan.
Pre-registration is required and the cost of the class is $150. The registration fee includes a one- year IGFA membership, training manual and two instructional DVDs (IGFA Rules & Billfish Identification). Course graduates are notified of tournaments requiring observers by email blasts and posts on the IGFA Observer Online Talk Forum. There is no annual fee to receive these notices, but observers must keep their IGFA memberships current.
For additional information about this important event for Southern California big game fishing enthusiasts, please contact IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser at (954) 924-4320. Or email email@example.com.