Organizers of last weekend’s annual Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament say the event was a resounding success for anglers and the charitable foundations that benefit financially from tournament fees.
The tournament, which is in its 51st year and owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, was held at Bahia Mar Marina and it benefited the Marine Industry Cares Foundation and the Billfish Foundation.
The competition includes a Pro Division for professional anglers and a family fun division for amateurs.
“We had strong enthusiasm from all of the teams that participated,” Gordon Connell, tournament director and executive director of the Marine Industry Cares Foundation, said in a statement. “They’re all excited to come back next year, and we’re looking forward to making it bigger and better for both the family fun and pro anglers who want to compete.”
First place in the Pro Division went to the La Berraquera team, which caught five sailfish. La Berraquera also won the Billfish All-In division. Jose Perdomo was the Top Male Angler; Mario Scarpetta Jr. was the Top Junior Angler. La Berraquera caught the biggest blackfin tuna (14.8 pounds.).
With about 20 boats competing, the tournament paid a total of $11,600 to the winners. Connell said the Marine Industry Cares Foundation and Billfish Foundation will share $4,000 from the tournament this year.
The Marine Industry Cares Foundation, founded in 2010 by marine industry leaders in South Florida, is a nonprofit organization that brings the maritime and local communities together to raise money and awareness for local charities supporting children and families.
The foundation organizes the Annual Spin-A-Thon, toy drives, food drives, a Kids Summer Camp Scholarship program, volunteers in the community and partners with marine trade groups such as the Marine Industries Association of South Florida to plan community events such as the annual Waterway Cleanup, which returns this Saturday in Broward County.
The Billfish Foundation was founded in 1986 with a worldwide mission of conserving billfish by Winthrop P. Rockefeller, Eric Prince and a group of 50 founding members. The foundation’s keystone program, the traditional tagging program, was begun in 1990. Today it has grown to be the largest international billfish-tagging program in the world.