Dania Beach, Florida – The International Game Fish Association, in partnership with Costa Sunglasses, created the Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund to help recreational angling communities after major natural disasters.
The initiative comes on the heels of two catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, in the Caribbean over the course of a couple weeks. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast weeks before, and Cabo San Lucas was affected by Tropical Storm Lidia. The IGFA stated in a press release announcing the fundraising effort that it and Costa have made $25,000 in contributions to begin and pledged to raise more financial support through marketing and outreach to their members, customers and industry partners.
Nehl Horton, the IGFA's president, said that the recent hurricanes — which reached category-5 strength — show the negative impact natural disasters can have on fishing communities.
“Anywhere in the world, on any day, at any time, a thriving recreational fishery can be devastated in a matter of hours in a major natural disaster," Horton continued. "And the people who are the foundation of those recreational fisheries — the captains, guides, crews and outfitters who depend on recreational fishing for their livelihoods — often find themselves in the center of the storm. When disaster strikes, we need to help our fellow anglers get back on the water as quickly as possible. We are deeply grateful to our longtime partners at Costa for their vision and leadership in supporting this effort. ”
Holly Rush, the CEO of Costa, said that hurricanes have impacted "historic fisheries of the Florida Keys and Texas coast, to the famed marinas of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean."
She added, “Professional fishermen are the backbone of these communities and an integral part of the Costa family."
The Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund (WARF) will provide funds to heavily impacted angling communities through grants to organizations aimed at helping captains, guides, mates and outfitters. Grant decisions will be made by the IGFA in consultation with major supporters and local representatives in impacted areas. The initial grants will focus on the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean region, Cabo San Lucas and south Texas.