The Sportfishing Conservancy announced on Friday the first weekly winners in the 2012 Sanctuary Classic — a free summer photo contest held in conjunction with NOAA, which encourages responsible recreational fishing in national marine sanctuaries. Winners receive a $100 gift card from West Marine and are eligible to win one of four $1,000 scholarships.
Last week’s winners were: Craig Tagliareni, Jesse Brady, Ashley and Brandon Rogers, and Jack Armstrong.
The Classic started June 9 with free kid’s fishing events in California and Florida. It continues, with weekly awards to photo winners, through September 3. Participants of all ages can post fishing photos taken in any National Marine Sanctuary to the event website then encourage friends and family to vote for their photograph.
“These first winners were all youngsters, but we want to emphasize that this event is open to anglers of all ages,” said Tom Raftican, president of The Sportfishing Conservancy. “We want to see photos of moms, dads, grandparents, the young and the young at heart — having fun on the water. At the end of summer, the judges will award scholarships to four kids, but this event is all about getting out of doors with friends and families and enjoying the great recreational opportunities in our sanctuaries.”
The use of photo submissions, rather than weighing or measuring fish brought back to the dock, encourages and promotes catch-and-release fishing during the tournament, organizers say.
The National Marine Sanctuary System spans more than 150,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters from the Hawaiian Islands to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. Ninety-eight percent of all sanctuary waters are open to activities including recreational fishing, diving, surfing and swimming.