Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS - By Lenny Ru­dow

How Giv­ing Back to the Oceans Helps Fish, An­glers and In­dus­try

When an­glers buy cool new tackle and ac­ces­sories, or shop for a dream boat and out­board en­gine, they usu­ally fo­cus more on a brand’s qual­ity, value and func­tion­al­ity rather than phi­lan­thropy and com­mu­nity ser­vice. Yet, some marine-in­dus­try com­pa­nies choose to lead by ex­am­ple — stand out by stand­ing up — and iden­tify their brand with good works and a so­cial con­science. In­deed, com­pa­nies in all in­dus­tries give money to wor­thy projects. But some stand taller than the norm. I found more than a dozen marine busi­nesses whose ef­forts go above and be­yond the call to con­trib­ute to our fish­eries and our fish­er­men in ways that ex­ceed self-serv­ing in­ter­ests. Be­cause of space lim­i­ta­tions, I could high­light only five (listed al­pha­bet­i­cally). Here’s what they do for our sport.

COSTA Day­tona Beach, Florida

The list of in­di­vid­ual causes, projects and part­ner­ships Costa sup­ports has grown so ex­ten­sive, I can’t even at­tempt to list them all. Aside from nat­u­ral-dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts and sup­port for re­search and en­vi­ron­men­tal causes, per­haps most im­pres­sive is the fact that Costa ac­tu­ally cre­ated some of its own projects to ben­e­fit our fish­ing grounds, in­clud­ing the Kick Plastic ini­tia­tive.

For in­stance, the frames of Costa’s re­cently re­leased Un­tan­gled line of sun­glasses are cre­ated from plastic pel­lets made with dis­carded fish­ing nets col­lected in Chile and re­cy­cled by a for­ward-look­ing Cal­i­for­nia com­pany called Bureo. The frames of

Costa’s Bio-Resin line are made from a bi­o­log­i­cally based resin de­rived from cas­tor oil rather than from petroleum-based sub­stances.

“Costa is a pur­pose-driven com­pany, not a profit-driven com­pany,” says Mike Hol­l­i­day, Costa’s in­shore com­mu­nity man­ager, based in Florida. “We need to make a profit to suc­ceed, but we be­lieve it’s in­her­ent to de­vote our time and re­sources to con­ser­va­tion ef­forts that raise aware­ness, pro­tect fish­eries, and en­rich water-based com­mu­ni­ties. Not be­cause we should, but be­cause we can.”

Hol­l­i­day ex­plains that this ethos ben­e­fits the com­pany just as clearly as it ben­e­fits the en­vi­ron­ments in which we work, play and fish — a win-win by ev­ery def­i­ni­tion. This sort of phi­los­o­phy en­cour­ages pur­pose among em­ploy­ees, and mo­ti­vates them to make the com­pany suc­cess­ful and be­come even more in­volved.

“When you see the changes, im­prove­ments, aware­ness and pro­tec­tions of the water-re­lated projects we’re in­volved in, it makes you feel good about your life and the com­pany you work for,” he says. “It makes you feel like you don’t work for this in­vis­i­ble en­tity that gob­bles up profit. You work for a com­pany that makes ev­ery­one’s lives bet­ter.”

GRADY-WHITE BOATS Greenville, North Carolina

Grady-White ranks among the most suc­cess­ful salt­wa­ter-fish­ing-boat builders in the na­tion, as well as among the most phil­an­thropic. Like many com­pa­nies, it do­nates money to causes that af­fect fish­eries, but it goes far be­yond merely stroking checks.

For in­stance, Grady spon­sors the Dol­phin­fish Re­search Pro­gram — a project that teaches an­glers how to tag and re­port dol­phin catches through­out the East Coast, Gulf of Mex­ico and Caribbean to im­prove knowl­edge about the pop­u­lar species. But the com­pany also takes mea­sures to en­cour­age Grady boat own­ers to tag the fish.

Grady-White also sup­ports the Recre­ational Boat­ing and Fish­ing Foundation; Grady vice pres­i­dent of sales Joey Weller sits on the board of di­rec­tors.

“The RBBF works hard to in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion in recre­ational boat­ing and fish­ing through co­op­er­a­tion with the marine in­dus­try and our govern­ment,” Weller says. “I’m very proud to be a part of this ef­fort, and the re­sult is cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies to en­joy all the amaz­ing aquatic nat­u­ral re­sources of­fered in the United States. Many on the Grady-White team have con­trib­uted or are cur­rently con­tribut­ing to help con­serve and pro­tect these re­sources in a va­ri­ety of ways.”

As is of­ten the case, the com­pany ethic trick­les down from its lead­er­ship. “The con­ser­va­tion of our fish­eries re­sources for the gen­er­a­tions to come is of up­most im­por­tance to all of us,” says owner Eddie Smith Jr. “We’re happy to have been able to play even a small role in that ef­fort.”

Be­cause Smith — and by ex­ten­sion, the en­tire Grady-White team — has al­ways re­spected the en­vi­ron­ment and un­der­stood that out­door re­cre­ation is a gift to be pro­tected for the fu­ture, Grady says it will con­tinue to be a stead­fast ad­vo­cate for, and con­trib­u­tor to, fish­eries con­ser­va­tion, ed­u­ca­tion and water­ways man­age­ment. The com­pany’s core be­lief is that it’s an in­vest­ment in en­rich­ing the lives of em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers, sup­pli­ers and the com­mu­nity as a whole.

MAV­ER­ICK BOAT GROUP Fort Pierce, Florida

Few boat­builders play such an ac­tive role in fish­ing con­ser­va­tion that a na­tional com­mis­sion is named af­ter the com­pany’s pres­i­dent. But that’s ex­actly what hap­pened when Mav­er­ick Boat Group pres­i­dent


Scott Deal part­nered with Johnny Mor­ris, CEO of

Bass Pro Shops, to chair the Com­mis­sion on Salt­wa­ter Recre­ational Fish­eries Man­age­ment, com­monly known as the Mor­ris-Deal Com­mis­sion.

In 2014, the com­mis­sion’s re­port brought the fish­ing com­mu­nity’s con­cerns to Congress and helped ini­ti­ate the Mod­ern Fish Act, a ver­sion of which re­cently gained ap­proval in the House.

Tak­ing on this po­lit­i­cal challenge is only one of MBG’s projects. “We have a motto we call the ‘three Q’s,’” says Char­lie John­son, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing for the group that builds Cobia, Pathfinder and Mav­er­ick boat brands. “We strive to be a qual­ity com­pany, with qual­ity peo­ple, build­ing qual­ity prod­ucts. But we also have a firm be­lief that you can’t have one of these with­out hav­ing all three of them. And in or­der to be a qual­ity com­pany, you’re ob­li­gated to use what­ever in­flu­ence you have to bring about pos­i­tive change.”

For MBG, that means reach­ing out in many di­rec­tions. This past fall, the com­pany auc­tioned off a Pathfinder 2200 TRS (in part­ner­ship with Yamaha Marine Group, Power Pole and Amer­aTrail trail­ers) and put 100 per­cent of the funds to­ward Hur­ri­cane Irma re­lief ef­forts. The com­pany has com­bined oys­ter-mat build­ing (to aid in oys­ter-reef restora­tion) with tours of its fa­cil­ity and fish­ing sem­i­nars; MBG has con­sis­tently part­nered with the Coastal Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, and gen­er­ated more than $2 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions to nu­mer­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions and fish­ing-re­lated causes.

“We feel it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to be di­rectly in­volved for our­selves, as an­glers,” John­son ex­plains. “It’s MBG’s be­lief that as a com­pany’s in­flu­ence grows, so does its so­ci­etal and en­vi­ron­men­tal obli­ga­tions. With­out clean water, means to ac­cess it, and fish to catch, the boat­ing life­style and all the liveli­hoods of those who sup­port it would cease to ex­ist.”

SHI­MANO Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia

At Shi­mano, what be­gan as a sin­gle project fo­cused on one spe­cific is­sue more than three decades ago has de­vel­oped into a com­pa­ny­wide ethic.

“It all be­gan in Canada, with our live-re­lease boats,” ex­plains Shi­mano’s vice pres­i­dent of govern­ment af­fairs and ad­vo­cacy Phil Mor­lock.

These boats, now in their eighth gen­er­a­tion, were de­signed to re­duce mor­tal­ity in fresh­wa­ter bass tour­na­ments to record-low rates. They led to the de­vel­op­ment of water weigh-ins, and be­came so suc­cess­ful that Shi­mano brought in Mor­lock, a wildlife bi­ol­o­gist, to ex­pand the com­pany’s en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print, vol­un­teerism, youth ini­tia­tives, and do­na­tions.

“We make the point that we’re a busi­ness,” Mor­lock says, “and we un­der­stand that with­out qual­ity fish­eries, peo­ple don’t need to buy much tackle. But on top of that, we feel it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to put back into the re­sources from which we make a liv­ing.”


No doubt at­trib­ut­able to his train­ing in bi­ol­ogy, Mor­lock be­lieves that when it comes to keep­ing fish­eries healthy, the an­swers to many chal­lenges can be found in cred­i­ble sci­ence. And, he says, as a re­sult, Shi­mano bases many of its ini­tia­tives on iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cific prob­lems, con­sid­er­ing the fun­da­men­tals, and look­ing for so­lu­tions based on sus­tain­able use.

In late June, Shi­mano an­nounced its part­ner­ship with the Coastal Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion and Texas A&M’s Harte Re­search In­sti­tute on a project called Re­leaSense. The project pro­vides an on­line repos­i­tory of in­struc­tional videos and sci­en­tific re­search aimed at im­prov­ing the sur­vival rates of re­leased fish from shal­low and deep wa­ters.

Re­leaSense will fo­cus on a va­ri­ety of tech­niques from de­scend­ing de­vices to cir­cle-hook use to an­gler han­dling prac­tices. “The per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion any an­gler can make to fish con­ser­va­tion is by prac­tic­ing se­lec­tive har­vest and ap­ply­ing proven live-re­lease strate­gies,” Mor­lock says.

YAMAHA MARINE Ken­ne­saw, Ge­or­gia

More than many other com­pa­nies in the marine world, Yamaha has thrown its con­sid­er­able weight be­hind po­lit­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional and con­ser­va­tion causes. Ac­cord­ing to Martin Peters, se­nior man­ager of marine com­mu­ni­ca­tions and govern­ment re­la­tions, the com­pany’s val­ues are clearly ex­pressed in the Yamaha Marine Code of Ethics.

The code spells out safety com­mit­ments and re­spon­si­ble boat­ing mea­sures, en­cour­ages care­ful han­dling of caught fish, and ad­vo­cates re­spect­ing the re­source while be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with the lo­cal and re­gional bi­ol­ogy and ecol­ogy.

“I re­mem­ber fish­ing all day on the Pat­ap­sco River [in Mary­land] with my fa­ther to catch one blue­fish, then be­ing dev­as­tated when my dad re­leased it and said he didn’t want to keep the last blue around. But I un­der­stood, and I learned from it,” Peters says. “I think all of us who wet a line have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, and we rec­og­nize the need for those of us who en­joy fish­ing to also pro­tect it. Re­cently, when I saw a striped bass caught just yards from what was once a Su­per­fund site in Bal­ti­more Har­bor dur­ing a Yamaha event, it warmed my heart.”

Peters says that play­ing an ac­tive role in help­ing con­serve and pro­tect the re­sources Yamaha cus­tomers de­pend upon only makes sense. “We lis­ten to our cus­tomers, the boat­builders, and what they hear is im­por­tant to their cus­tomers. When we sup­port things like the Mod­ern Fish Act and work on is­sues like ethanol, it helps us all.”

Yamaha re­cently part­nered with the Amer­i­can Sport­fish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion for a new FishS­mart ini­tia­tive for red snap­per and red drum in the South At­lantic, pro­mot­ing best prac­tices for catch-and-re­lease and en­cour­ag­ing the use of tools proven to im­prove fish sur­vival. For in­stance, the pro­gram will ac­tively dis­trib­ute de­scend­ing de­vices to deep­wa­ter an­glers and short-leader rigs to in­shore fish­er­men.

FishS­mart op­er­ated a sim­i­lar project in the Gulf of Mex­ico from 2015 to 2017. “By show­ing how in­creased use of best prac­tices for re­leas­ing fish can lead to health­ier fish­eries, we’re not only pro­mot­ing fish­eries con­ser­va­tion, but also al­low­ing for greater fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. With healthy fish­eries, ev­ery­body wins,” Peters says.

In Alaska, Yamaha spon­sors the Ke­nai River Clas­sic, which raises money for fish­ery con­ser­va­tion pro­grams, in­clud­ing habitat restora­tion, fish­eries ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. The day prior to the Au­gust 2017 event, the Clas­sic hosted a U.S. Se­nate Sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing to ex­plore reau­tho­riz­ing the Mag­nu­son-Stevens Fish­ery Con­ser­va­tion and Man­age­ment Act.

Be­sides its na­tional ini­tia­tives, Yamaha is ac­tive at home as well, in the state of Ge­or­gia. This past year, the com­pany do­nated boats and mo­tors to help with search-and-res­cue ef­forts dur­ing emer­gen­cies and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

Above: Mav­er­ick Boat Group pres­i­dent Scott Deal re­leases a red­fish. Deal and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Mor­ris chaired a ground­break­ing com­mis­sion on recre­ational fish­ing. Left: Fish of all kinds in­gest plas­tics that wash or are flushed into the oceans. Costa’s Kick Plastic ini­tia­tive aims to re­duce plastic use.

Grady-White Boats spon­sors the Dol­phin­fish Re­search Pro­gram, which stud­ies this pop­u­lar game fish species’ mi­gra­tions and habits through­out the west­ern At­lantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mex­ico.

Yamaha Marine re­cently joined an ef­fort by FishS­mart to pro­mote proper fish han­dling and best prac­tices for catch-and-re­lease, ini­tially aimed at red drum and red snap­per.

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