est Marine Awards $35,000 in Marine Conservation Grants

Byline: The Log Staff

WATSONVILLE — On World Oceans Day, June 8, West Marine, the world’s largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, announced the recipients of its annual Marine Conservation Grants program. Grants for a total amount of $35,000 were awarded to organizations throughout the U.S. that were deemed to be working to “improve and protect marine habitat,” which is part of West Marine’s mission.

“West Marine is proud to support recreational fishing, scientific and marine environmental groups who are working together for abundant and healthy habitats and fish stocks,” said Randy Repass, chairman and founder of West Marine. “The work of these organizations will benefit recreational fishing and sustainable commercial fishing, and help to enhance fish populations for today’s anglers and future generations.”

The 10 grants awarded focused on projects that enhance fish populations, including engaging anglers in data collection and tagging, enhancing marine habitat, educating anglers and encouraging policies that maintain healthy fish stocks.

This year’s grant recipients include The Ocean Foundation Tag-a-Giant Fund in California and Hawaii, which supports research on highly migratory fishes and promotes innovative policy and conservation initiatives based on this research. Funds will be used to purchase a tag for the HIBT Great Marlin Race, in collaboration with Stanford University, the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament and the International Game Fish Association. Tags deployed on blue marlin during tournaments provide valuable data for researchers.

Also receiving a grant is The Sportfishing Conservancy in California. The mission of the conservancy is to empower anglers to fulfill and celebrate their commitment to their sport and to real-world conservation. The grant will support the National Marine Sanctuary Classic photographic/fishing contest.

Water4 Fish Inc., an advocacy organization that solicits public support for better California water management policies for the protection and enhancement of fish, is another 2012 grant recipient. The organization operates a website — water4fish.org — where supporters can send emails to legislators to advocate better protection of fishing waters.

Other West Marine grant recipients for 2012 are The Snook & Gamefish Foundation of Florida, the Florida Oceanographic Society, Think It — Sink It — Reef It (TISIRI) of Florida, North Carolina Aquariums at Jennette’s Pier, Provincetown (Mass.) Center for Coastal Studies, and Pacific Islands Fisheries Group of Hawaii and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation of Virginia.

West Marine’s Marine Conservation Grants are awarded through a formal application process, in which interested organizations must submit their proposals directly to West Marine. All applications are reviewed and evaluated by a team of senior West Marine leaders.

Those applying must show sound financial policies and management with a key focus in marine conservation, habitat restoration and sustainable fisheries. These activities may cover water cleanup, habitat protection and restoration, ocean science and conservation projects that relate to key marine species, water quality and sustainable ocean use.

Since 1994, West Marine has donated nearly $5 million to nonprofit organizations that support youth boating, boating safety and the marine environment. For more information about the Marine Conservation Grants program, visit westmarine.com.

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