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April 16, 2010

AFTCO / Guy Harvey Blog

Fish around the world with Guy Harvey and guests


June 17, 2010

CSI in Real-World, Shark Conservation and Management - Better than TV!

by Mahmood Shivji

Shark 'logs' Photo credit: M. Shivji, GHRIShark populations around the world are being decimated by indiscriminate overfishing to supply the market demand for shark fin soup. These severe and rapid population reductions of the ocean's apex predators have led to legitimate worries about disruptions to the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. The U.S. government, recognizing this looming environmental disaster, has made landings of 20 shark species deemed especially sensitive to overfishing illegal in U.S. Atlantic federal waters (see /files/pdf/201105/Comm_Compliance_Guide_QR_Sharks.pdf for list).

Until recently, shark species were landed as processed carcasses or "logs", i.e., in gutted form with their heads, tails and fins removed (see photo). The highly valuable, detached fins were kept separate from the carcasses. Since many sharks are difficult to identify even as intact animals, this processing practice made it extremely difficult to determine whether legal or illegal species were being landed. In fact, because of this species-identification difficulty, shark "finning" - the illegal practice where high value fins from some species (e.g., hammerhead, dusky, sandbar sharks) were landed without the corresponding carcasses, was commonplace. To prevent finning, new government regulations established in July 2008 require the fins of sharks landed in the U.S. Atlantic fisheries to be "naturally attached" to the carcass when landed - i.e., they can still be cut along most of their attachment point as long as they remain dangling from the carcass by a small piece of uncut skin. The cutting away of most of the fin is allowed so that the fishers can fold the fins back along the carcass to save on vessel storage space. The shark's head, however, can still be removed at sea. Unfortunately, even with this new regulation, identifying the species landed by visual inspection only is still difficult for the non-expert. Furthermore, this new regulation does not yet apply to sharks landed in U.S. Pacific fisheries.

Confiscated Shark Fins.  Photo credit: A. Samuels, NOAA OLETo help management agencies detect landings of illegal shark species, scientists from the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) at Nova Southeastern University pioneered the development of a rapid DNA forensics test to accurately identify shark body parts (carcasses, fins, fillets) to species. This test has routinely been used since 2003 to help NOAA's Office for Law Enforcement and international government agencies enforce their regulations pertaining to illegal fishing of protected shark species. The GHRI has assisted with over 20 such federal law enforcement cases, including one where the DNA analysis showed a U.S. fish dealer in illegal possession of fins from 19 great white sharks, a species considered by the IUCN ( at high risk for extinction in the wild. This case resulted in the fish dealer being assessed US $ 750,000 in fines!

The GHRI's DNA forensic test has given fishery managers extra "teeth" to enforce regulations that, although well intentioned, were previously difficult to implement. We now have a powerful set of DNA-based, crime-fighting tools similar to those used in human criminal cases also being successfully applied in fish conservation and management. High-tech "Fisheries CSI" is now a reality! Ideas for a TV show, anyone?

LA. Times:

Conservation Magazine:

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:


June 10, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill

by Guy Harvey

I just completed a weekend visit to Alabama and Mississippi for appearances at Academy Sports + Outdoor and Hibbett Sports. While I was there, I had a chance to talk with many people about the impact of the Gulf oil spill. When you visit the affected area it means much more than seeing the tragedy on TV from fifteen hundred miles away, so I considered it time to comment on the incident.

Guy proudly assisting daughter JessicaThere has been such a widespread condemnation of the responsible party BP that I am not going to add to that, only to say the whole episode exposes man's unpreparedness for such events. We are so quick to exploit both living and mineral resources without putting in place the necessary conservation or mitigating processes. There has been widespread commercial overexploitation of fish and shellfish in the gulf (bluefin tuna, redfish, red snapper, sharks, shrimp with consequent by-catch mortality) and extensive deep water oil drilling apparently without adequate procedures in place on site or along the coast to prevent accidents of this caliber and keep the oil from coming ashore.

Already 2010 has seen devastating earthquakes, massive flooding, destructive typhoons, huge tornadoes, and now we are adding to this destructive scenario. In addition, we are at the beginning of what may be an active Atlantic hurricane season.

Sure, oil has been extracted from the gulf for over fifty years. Most of it safely, except for some small incidents here and there which seem acceptable to the industry. I am reminded that there are oil spills all around the world where drilling takes place but not on this level. The last major catastrophe was in 1979 in the Bay of Campeche (southern Gulf of Mexico) when the oil flowed for nearly three hundred days following an oil rig explosion. People have forgotten about that one. It was not well publicized and certainly did not have live underwater video of the tens of barrels of oil per second spewing from the broken well on our TV 24/7.

Experts say it could take a couple more months before the problem is solved. In that time the public will become accustomed to the bad news, and watch something else. Certainly Haiti does not come up on the news any more. But for the wildlife affected and for the people whose livelihood is severely interrupted, this event is as bad as a Cat 5 hurricane, an 8.0 earthquake or a terrible tornado.

The longer the oil flows, the more wildlife will be affected. Given the slow circulation of the gulf, the oil and dispersants is already killing off untold numbers of planktonic animals, fish eggs, larvae and juvenile fish which affect recruitment of these species for the next couple of years. The bluefin tuna particularly comes to mind as their spawning ground is affected by the spill. This species is already severely overexploited, and this will definitely affect the survivability of the species in the western Atlantic. While the adults of all pelagic species can avoid the oil, the juvenile stages cannot. Neither can air-breathing turtles, sea birds and mammals that have to interact with the surface.

Movement of surface oil and suspended oil droplets is likely to happen with slow passage out of the gulf then accelerating with the gulfstream proceeding to Cuba, Florida and the US east coast further north. The effects will be widespread as has been projected. In the mean time, over several years the remaining mass of oil will be slowly eroded through evaporation and breakdown by bacteria.

Guy coaching son AlexOur dependence on oil has to end at some point, the sooner the better. This accident is a very appropriate reminder that we need to turn to alternative, renewable energy sources as soon as possible. Sun, wind, hydrogen are all available and the technology exists to make meaningful changes over the next ten to twenty years.

Of course the oil companies don't want to see this happen. This business is SO profitable that they are going to protect it indefinitely. However, while they are still in business, this event may encourage them to spend more money providing grants to gulf coast universities to assist in upgrading the scientific research work and improving our knowledge of the coastal wildlife ecosystems, nearshore marine and oceanic marine systems. In the middle of this disaster, let's also not lose focus of the real habitat value that the offshore oil rigs have provided fish and other marine life for many years, both as working rigs and after decommissioning when the rigs are often sunk and turned into an environmentally positive Rigs-To-Reefs Program.

So how can we the public, living outside of the affected area, help? We can contribute time and dollars to the clean up process. This ecological disaster cannot be cleaned up by BP, even though they say they are going to pay for it. The effects of the spill are going to be with us for a long time. I am contributing time to do new designs printed by AFTCO to be sold through our dealers with proceeds benefiting suitable organizations on the ground who need assistance in getting the clean-up accomplished. In the same way following 9/11 I generated new designs the proceeds of which benefitted firemen and sniffer dogs in the New York area.

In the mean time dive safely and fish responsibly.

It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of the planet.

- Guy Harvey

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:



June 8, 2010


Bimini Big Game Club Reopens as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort & Marina

by admin

Friends sharing stories and a cool one on the deckThe Big Game Is On! Memorial Day, 2010 marked the reopening of the legendary Bimini Big Game Club as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Fifty one rooms and cottages, seventy five slips, Historic Alice Town and Bimini outside the front gate. Fifty miles east of Miami, perched at the edge of the mighty Gulfstream. Under brilliant blue skies, with the dazzling "Bimini blue" water as a backdrop, the opening was a picture perfect start to the launch of the new Guy Harvey Outpost system.

It wasn't much later than 7:30 a.m. on opening morning, when the club received word that one of its guests had caught a 350 pound Blue Marlin just offshore. Certainly a good omen for the future of the Bimini Big Game Club! Before the weekend was over, there was a lot of fish dancing going on up and down the docks.

The Guy Harvey Outpost system has been created for adventure travelers and water sport enthusiasts who share Guy's vision of respecting the oceans, land and cultures that together create the fabric of our blue planet. Unfortunately, we're all too aware that the popularity of water-sports activities has increasingly pressured all theaters of marine biodiversity. Fortunately, the sportsman's passion for his pursuits has brought, in fact, deepening appreciation for the stewardship each of us has in protecting the marine environment for current and future generations. That is the core mission of Guy Harvey Outpost-to create a memorable vacation experience for the entire family, and ensure each guest goes home with a greater appreciation of marine education and conservation.

From the Oceans Comes Life. The motto behind the Guy Harvey Outpost system tells the story, simply. While Ernest Hemingway may have beaten a path to Bimini before us, it inspired him to write, the now famous magazine stories and the award wining, "Islands in the Stream". The Guy Harvey Outpost Bimini stands poised to write some new dispatches from the epicenter of sportfishing, from the very site where the first conversations about forming the IGFA were had between Hemingway and legendary angler, Michael Lerner.

Friends sharing stories and a cool one on the deckThis summer the Bimini Big Game Club, a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort & Marina takes center stage in the South Florida boating/fishing community, as it reopens after having been closed for two years. With the support of a private Los Angeles based investor, the property has been reconstructed and improved with new guestrooms, marina slips, the all new Bimini Big Game Bar & Grill (we call it the BGBG) and the stunning new Outfitter Shop, featuring Guy Harvey sportswear and a full complement of boating supplies and gear.

Always at the top of every diver's Top-10 list, Bimini sits perched on a 2,000 ft. underwater cliff, just two miles from the docks. The Club's full service dive shop will open in July, and the Club is excited to announce that scuba-dive legend Neal Watson has joined the Outpost team to ensure the best-in-class recreational diving service and programs.

This fall brings even more improvements, including a new spa/fitness center, new lobby and arrival experience, a lounge devoted to Hemingway and the history of Alice Town, and a Guy Harvey Theater, for enjoying the viewing of your HD videos and photographs, while also serving as a venue for guest appearances and seminars.

If you're in or headed to South Florida or the Bahamas anytime soon, be sure to visit us. Mark the weekend of July 24th for our grand reopening party. Regardless, make a point to check in at the Bimini Big Game Club, and check us out. Help us write a new chapter in the history of Bimini that would make Hemingway proud. Become a character in our 2010 chapter and while your there, write some new history with old friends. The Big Game is On!

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit:


Peter B Wright's Lure "SPREAD"

by Peter B Wright

Since I usually want to catch some other species in addition to billfish, color WILL matter on my smaller lures. I use blue, black or purple on big lures up close, in the wake, and like some red long lures because I can see that color easily. BUT, color does not matter for blue and black marlin-use your personal favorites!!!

I would strongly suggest NOT pulling a teaser, but would pull a Soft Head Magnum Super Chugger in a very short teaser position-with a single 12/0 hook located way back in the tail. I would use an 8 foot trace leader of 480 cable with a 20 foot wind on leader of 400 mono. Fish this lure right out of a rod holder in one corner-not in an outrigger. Change to a Wide Range in rough weather if the chugger jumps and flips over in rough weather. Have a fairly heavy strike drag, for example, 25 pounds and only back off when you get at least 200 yards off the reel. You won't get a lot of bites on the very closest lure, but when you do, it will often be a really nice one!

Proper lurt spread is key to gaining the fish's attentionIf anything, EXCEPT a BIG blue or black marlin, tries to bite the large "Magnum" lure, I would take it away and pitch a smaller natural bait on a large spinning reel with lots of 50 pound Dacron backing and a 100 yard top shot of good mono. This is a perfect set up for striped marlin and all smaller species, as well as blues or blacks up to at least 200 pounds.

On the next short position, a flat line or a short rigger about 50 to 100 feet back, pull a Senior size wide range rigged the same way and also only let a big marlin eat it.

On the shorter of your long outriggers-say 100 to 150 foot back-pull a standard size chugger if it is calm. Pull a standard wide range if it is rough and the chugger style jumps out of the water too much. Have a single 11/0 well back in this lure on 400 mono.

Pull a standard wide range on the long rigger on at least 300 pound leader if using mono leader. Use two good 8/0 or 9/0 hooks, one well up into the head and other way back. (ALL the "way back" hooks on these lures should have the eye of the hook just barely covered by the strands of the skirts.) This is the first lure I would care about color. Use chocolate or pink, if there are any squid around, blue or blue and white if you see lots of flying fish, and green and yellow if there are mackerel or scads of this color. I also like 200 pound nylon coated cable as leader on this and other little lures. The long rigger can be up to 300 feet behind the boat.

I only ever use a single skirt on Mold Craft lures. When too many dingle dangles are cut off cut them all off and glue the inside skirt in place. You get twice the bang for your buck.

For the very long "shot gun" I would fish a small metal headed (3-5 inch) jet or bullet lure in a pink or chocolate color with a strong 8/0 or 9/0 SS hook on 300 mono. Pull the shot gun at least 50 yards back. The littlest lure will catch more fish than anything, except maybe the standard wide range, and do NOT be surprised if a 500 or even 800 pound marlin nails it!!! Again, I often use nylon coated cable for my trace leader. (Always use 2 sleeves when crimping this leader.)


Guy Harvey On Yellowfin Tuna

by Guy Harvey

Yellowfin tuna are prized by anglers for both their challenging fight and good tasteWe are fortunate in the Cayman Islands to have several tuna species here, available all year round, but it is the yellowfin tuna that is preferred by anglers and commercial fisherman alike. Our preferred method of fishing them is to drift with cut bait gently sinking in the current accompanied by a lot of chum in the water. The smell of the chum brings the tuna and other game fish closer to the surface. Trolling using lures or rigged ballyhoo works well where tunas are not concentrated in one spot.

The yellowfin tend to congregate near undersea ridges. Here in the Cayman Islands this means they are found at East End, NW and SW points, and around 12-mile Bank. They are found further offshore around other oceanic seamounts such as 60-mile Bank, and Pickle Bank as well as the Sister Islands. Preferring the deep water, they linger where the current meets these obstructions and wait for baitfish to be pushed past them. Hence when fishing for yellowfin tuna, the fishermen are generally spread out on the up-current side of the bank. To see the tunas chase flying fish at the surface, frigate birds over head, will get any angler's pulse racing.

The yellowfin tuna is the most brilliantly coloured of all the tunas with a broad stripe of golden yellow on its flanks, and bright yellow on all of its fins and finlets. The lower sides have vivid white spots and vertical streaks. I love to paint yellowfins, because of their bright colours, and wide eyed look in predator/prey interactions.

The Atlantic and Pacific forms of yellowfin have been called separate species, but all yellowfins are now considered to be a single species, found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Large individuals with exceptionally long second dorsal and anal fins have been called Allison tuna - but these are just variations.

Yellowfin tuna grow to a fairly large size reaching 400 lbs., with most here being in the 20-120 lbs. size range. The Cayman record is a respectable 189 lbs. fish caught back in 1989. The IGFA all tackle record is 388 lbs. My daughter Jessica, has a current IGFA Junior Angler (girls) record of 198 lbs., caught in Panama in 2002.

The Yellowfin tuna is the tuna of choice in the Caymen IslandsI have spent a lot of time in Panama working on yellowfins, as some of the greatest concentrations of this species are found in the productive waters of the eastern tropical Pacific. There is a marine lab in southern Panama at Achotines, where most of the research work on yellowfins has been conducted. Adults are kept in captivity, and have been found to spawn daily as long as the water temperature is above 24°C. The production of eggs and larvae in captivity have allowed for extensive research on early life history and growth rates. This knowledge is very important when it comes to managing the fishery, particularly as the tunas migrate through the EEZ of many countries, and are fished offshore in international waters by fleets from many more countries.

Yellowfin tuna and big-eye tuna readily associate with spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins, in a unique relationship between a fish and a mammal. It has been suggested that the tunas take advantage of the dolphin's food finding capabilities and tag along for the hunt. Once the bait schools are located the tunas and dolphin corral the bait, and then plunder the masses of fish. I have been fortunate enough to film these feeding episodes under water for my TV series, "Portraits from the Deep".

Unfortunately many dolphins got killed in the purse seines set around them for the tuna swimming below. Purse seining was a very effective way of catching large numbers of adult tuna, with no bycatch, apart from the dolphins. Following the outrage of published numbers of dolphins dying using this method, two things happened. Firstly, those boats setting on the dolphin schools, had to free the dolphins, alive, and often used divers to accomplish this, successfully reducing dolphin mortality to almost zero.

Secondly, but tragically, the tuna boats would set purse seines on floating objects (natural and man-made) as tuna were known to associate with flotsam. As it turned out, this "flotsam fishery" caused an ecological disaster. But because it was carried on far offshore, and did not involve dolphins, the news of this destruction did not reach the consuming public's attention. Being "dolphin safe" caused problems infinitely more serious for other species living in the open ocean.

Flotsam provides an oasis in the vast ocean under which juvenile tunas congregate, some adults, but also thousands of tons of other non-targeted fish such as mahi-mahi, many species of sharks, billfish, wahoo, jacks, sunfish, triple tails, turtles, manta rays, and juveniles of many reef species. All these, plus the juvenile tuna, ended up as bycatch and were unusable in this fishery. Thousands of tons were shoveled overboard, resulting in the unnecessary destruction of important game fish species, and the annihilation of the juvenile tunas that would in a few years have been the adults and the brood stock for the future.

It is our collective responsibility to be concerned with the resource issues facing the marine creature we target as seafood, and ensure the continued biodiversity of marine ecosystems and the survival of all marine creatures.

- Guy Harvey


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