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Marigot Bay New Home for Billfish Tournament

“The St Lucia International Billfish Tournament will take place on September 28 to October 2, 2006” said St Lucia Game Fishing Association’s (SLGFA) vice-president Milton McKenzie “and it will be based in Marigot Bay!”

That’s a couple of firsts, primarily that the date is announced almost a year in advance and that SLGFA decided to leave Rodney Bay Marina, the tournament’s home for the past 15 years.

“I can understand the early release of the start date, but why the move?” All at sea asked.

“By relocating to Marigot it puts us more in line with the International Game Fishing Association’s (IGFA) focus, a more family oriented affair, we’re thinking more of three weeks, rather than three days,” said Tournament Director and SLGFA’s President, Annie Hamu.

According to McKenzie SLGFA already have two docks allocated to the tournament with negotiations for a third.

Facilities at Marigot carry on apace what with development of Discovery and the expansion of JJS and Doolittles, who should benefit considerably by the relocation.

There’s even talk of a shopping mall.

“All needs for all anglers,” said McKenzie, “we want anglers to stay around after the event. This year’s good-natured prize giving sent out the right signals with people staying back even though they had nothing to collect.”

SLGFA also expect to have a number of Fish Activating Devices (FADs) in place within the next few months to encourage fish, similar to anglers, to stay around.

A Martinique FAD, plus Bernard Johnson of Grey Ghost fame, provided this year’s heaviest fish a 324lb blue marlin. There was also a record tuna, caught by Max Chalono of Recovery from Martinique, at a huge 131lbs it beat the old record by 11lbs.

“Each FAD will consist of a cluster of four anchored points with a centre point with a buoy.

“The FADs aren’t only for sports fishing, we also expect local fishermen to benefit. We’re hoping for ten FADS in all, sponsored by individuals and businesses,” said McKenzie.

The central buoy will be between 20 and 30ft below the surface with GPS co-ordinates available to members of the association and local co-operatives.

SLGFA organize monthly competitions and have raised awareness in not only the tournament but also conservation. Ten fish were caught and released in the 2005 tournament.

“By 2007 we expect 100% catch and release, countries adopting this practice have witnessed a rise in catches,” said McKenzie.

Let’s hope that’s not just a line!

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