Byline: The Log Staff
LONG BEACH — The Sportfishing Conservancy has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and several other national organizations to launch a free summer-long event aimed at getting families and youth outdoors. Called the “Sanctuary Classic,” the event is a combined fishing and photo contest in four National Marine Sanctuaries across the country that began June 9 and will continue through Sept. 3.
The event is designed to promote conservation-focused recreational fishing opportunities in each of the sanctuaries, while also providing anglers with information about the unique habitats included at each of the locations, organizers said. Participants at each of the sanctuaries, including the Channel Islands, are eligible to submit photos of their catch via the tournament website — sanctuaryclassic.org — and winners will be selected each week.
Weekly winners will receive prizes, including gift certificates — and at the end of summer, the four photographs that are judged to best exemplify kids and family fishing values will receive educational scholarships. The use of photo submissions rather than fish brought back to the dock helps encourage and promote catch-and-release fishing during the tournament, a key technique to preserve marine life in the sanctuaries, organizers explained.
“We’re excited to partner with these great national organizations to encourage and promote responsible saltwater angling,” said Tom Raftican, president of the Sportfishing Conservancy. “The National Marine Sanctuaries are treasured areas for our marine heritage and they’re critically important for fish and fishermen.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to help teach the next generation of anglers how our ‘best practices’ sportfishing techniques provide fun-filled and sustainable fishing adventures,” Raftican said.
“Being in a (marine) sanctuary is a great way to realize that a healthy ocean is vital for everyone,’’ said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Outdoor activities, such as recreational fishing, give children and families a way to experience nature, learn about how we are part of nature and foster a sense of responsibility for our environment.”
The National Marine Sanctuary System spans more than 150,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters, from the Hawaiian Islands to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. While the sanctuary program’s primary mission is to protect the nation’s marine ecosystems, 98 percent of all sanctuary waters are open to activities including recreational fishing, diving, surfing and swimming.
Additional support for the Sanctuary Classic is being provided by national and local partners, including the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, which provided initial funding though the Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund.