IN THE AFTERMATH
Just days after we shipped the previous issue of Marlin to the printer, Hurricane Maria roared ashore in Puerto Rico as a devastating Category 4 major storm, the worst the country had seen in more than 80 years. The entire island experienced hurricane-force winds as the massive storm swept in, bringing with it high seas, torrential rains and some of the worst conditions imaginable. Much of the island could be without electricity and running water for some time; the effects of Hurricane Maria will be felt there for years.
I first visited Puerto Rico in 2004 for the Club Nautico de San Juan International Billfish Tournament. Now in its 64th year in 2017, it’s one of the longest-running and most popular marlin tournaments anywhere in the world, and yet, aside from a few small dockside wagers, there’s not a dime in prize money. Teams fish for bragging rights and some great trophies and prizes — plus it’s one hell of a party. It’s truly heartbreaking to hear of the hardships and destruction coming from such a beautiful fishing destination.
The Florida Keys and the Texas coast also bore the brunt of major storm damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma this summer, and they too will spend years rebuilding. Like many of us, I found myself wondering: How can we help?
In response to that need, the IGFA, in partnership with Costa, has developed the Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund as a way to support fisheries around the world that have been impacted by natural disasters. WARF will accept donations from the recreational angling community and make grants directly to local fishing organizations and associations in affected areas in order to help speed recovery efforts, and get those hardworking captains and guides back on the water where they belong. For more information, visit or call IGFA’s development director Eric Combast at 954-924-4325. Your donations might even be tax-deductible, but you should check with your CPA or tax professional first.
To help the Florida Keys get back on its feet, we developed the Catch Me in the Keys campaign in partnership with Bluefin USA. Through social media, we raised awareness to let everyone know that the Keys was open for business; 100 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the unique Catch Me in the Keys long-sleeve performance shirt from Bluefin USA are going to the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. To show your support, head over to
The next step? That’s the easy part: Go fishing. There are plenty of captains and guides in each of these areas who are ready to get back out on the water. The Texas coast, the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico are all remarkably resilient, but they need our help. Tourism is the economic engine that drives business in these locations. Call ahead for reservations, but the best thing we all can do is visit these hard-hit destinations in the near future. Stay in the hotels. Eat in the restaurants. Tip the captains and crews a little more than usual. Not only will you have some great experiences on the water, but you’ll also be doing your part to help rebuild the fishing community.