Sportsmanship and conservation go hand in hand – anglers who hope for more and bigger fish tomorrow invariably understand the need to release catches they make today. Since 1993, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has been recognizing superlative achievements in fishing conservation with the annual IGFA Conservation Awards, bestowed upon honorees at the yearly IGFA International Auction & Banquet. This year the organization will give Conservation Awards in three categories at the event on January 31, 2014 at their headquarters in Dania Beach, Florida, USA:

IGFA Representative Award Winner:  Dr. Ken Neill III of Virginia, USA

With the family, friends, and crew who fish with him aboard Healthy Grin, Dr. Neill has contributed to a number of tagging studies and sample collection efforts.  Of the dozens of projects Healthy Grin has been thanked for contributing to, Neill reports that some of the most rewarding are the few that have led directly to fishery management decisions. “By capturing young-of the-year bluefin tuna and collecting tissue samples from bluefin tuna of all sizes, as well as participating in a variety of bluefin tagging projects,” Neill reports, “we have helped scientists better understand the relationships between the western and eastern stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna. This information is now being used in international management decisions.”

Organization Award Winner: Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in California, USA

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in southern California, USA, officially celebrated 50 years of its mission “to return to the sea some measure of the benefits derived from it” on June 3, 2013. To this end it is fitting that just two months later, in August, HSWRI released its two millionth white seabass – a testament to the success of their vision and the support of the California recreational angling community.

Industry Award Winner: King Sailfish Mounts in Florida, USA

In the early 1990’s, King Sailfish Mounts introduced and began promoting the Release Mount Concept for Atlantic Sailfish. The International Game Fish Association and others assisted KSM in creating awareness among conservation-minded trophy-seeking anglers, and the Release Mount concept quickly gained momentum as an alternative to traditional sailfish taxidermy. King Sailfish Mounts generously donates mounts to a number of angling conservation organizations and has been credited for being the most influential producer of Release Mounts in the Taxidermy Industry.

“Each of this year’s honorees has made significant strides in research and conservation awareness,” said IGFA President Rob Kramer. “We are proud to recognize the hard work they have done to support a bright future for game fish.”

Anglers and conservationists are invited to join the IGFA in celebrating these achievements at the 30th Annual International Auction & Banquet this January. To reserve seats, visit http://www.igfa.org/Events/30th-Annual-International-Auction.aspx or contact Julia Shafer at jshafer@igfa.org or 954-924-4222.

Image courtesy International Game Fish Association

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