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April 23, 2013

Shark's Eye Tournament Starts July 27

The tag and release shark tournament brings recreational anglers, conservationists and scientists together in Montauk.

Sport fishermen, scientists, conservationists and the curious will gather on July 27-28 for an all-release, satellite tag shark tournament at the Montauk Marine Basin, host to the longest-running shark tournament in Montauk. The two-day tournament will be the first of its kind in Montauk.

“It’s been four years in the making!” said Montauk Marine Basin owner, Carl Darenberg. “I’m very excited about this. It’s for sport, science and conservation.”

With tens of millions of sharks killed by foreign commercial fishermen every year, many to fill the demand for shark fin soup in Asia, the goal of the tournament is to bring attention to the plight of sharks and to help bring back the large sharks that are disappearing from our waters.

“These fish need our help or we won’t have any left,” said Capt. Mike Potts of the charterboat Blue Fin IV. “That’s why the tournament is no-kill.”

All sharks caught in this tournament will be released — circle hooks only. No sharks will be brought back to the dock. Instead, eligible mako, thresher and blue sharks will be fitted with technologically advanced satellite tracking tags, which will monitor their movements after release. Tagged sharks will be named by the anglers who catch them.

“Each time the dorsal fin breaks the surface,” Mr. Darenberg said, “there is a ping which will be picked up via satellite.” The public will then be able to follow these fish online via the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker, the most followed shark tracking site and app in the world – provided free of charge - all to better understand the complex lives of these critical species. 

“The use of satellite tags will allow us to build on 50 years of conventional tagging to examine the movements of sharks,” said Greg Skomal, Ph.D, who works for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and collaborates with OCEARCH as a Chief Scientist on expeditions.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) is providing $10,000 in cash prizes to the top anglers. The GHOF encourages anglers to release all sharks that are not table fare. “It is a tremendous experience to catch any large fish, especially sharks,” says GHOF president Steve Stock. “And by releasing them alive, we are ensuring that future generations can experience the thrill of hooking a giant shark. The added component of tracking these fish makes the ‘Shark’s Eye’ tournament even more valuable.”

Director Dr. Robert Hueter says, “Sharks are in trouble and catch-and-release tournaments promote the vital cause of shark conservation while providing benefits to science, too.”

And the list of supporters is growing.

As of now, supporters include the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, Fishermen’s Conservation Association, Montauk Boatmen Inc., AFTCO and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk. The Shark’s Eye Tournament is also endorsed by Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, the nation’s only Congressionally designated center for research and education on sharks.