No-Kill Shark Tournament and Festival Returns to Montauk Marine Basin

Montauk’s only satellite tag, catch-and-release, high stakes, big game sport fishing competition is back! Combining cutting-edge science, conservation and informative entertainment focused on saving sharks, the Shark’s Eye All-Release Tournament & Festival kicks off July 11, and they’re accepting discounted entry fees through May 1.

A maximum of 50 boats will be accepted as teams for a $750 entry fee through May 1 and $950 after that date. Now in its second year, this no-kill shark tournament welcomes competitors to battle it out for thousands in cash and prizes between July 11–13.

After its history-making debut in 2013, the Shark’s Eye Tournament and Festival at Montauk Marine Basin is even bigger than last year, and it’s on a trajectory to continue to grow. It’s the first and only satellite tag, all-release shark tournament in the Northeast U.S. with a format designed to ensure the post-release welfare of all sharks caught. Rules require the mandatory use of circle hooks, heavy tackle and safe handling practices, making the Shark’s Eye one of the industry leaders for a new, environmentally sensitive generation of shark-release tournaments.

According to one Shark’s Eye creator and organizer, Carl Darenberg of Montauk Marine, “Great, competitive anglers make great tournaments, and we are excited to step up the level of participation and stakes this time around.”

Blue Shark

Blue Shark, Photo: Shane Gross/iStock/Thinkstock

Along with creating an exciting sporting event and festival, one of the tournament’s primary goals is to bring attention to the plight of sharks and to help bring back the large sharks that are disappearing from local waters. Tens of millions of sharks are killed by foreign commercial fishermen each year, many simply to fill the demand for shark fin soup in Asia. Further, there is growing concern by the charter boat industry that sharks need conserving or none will remain to sustain that business.

Shark’s Eye has succeeded in uniting fishermen, scientists, conservationists, educators and concerned celebrities. Participating scientists and their teams will attach satellite tags to some eligible species, such as mako, thresher and blue sharks to monitor their movements after release. Competitors and the public can then track the sharks’ movements on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker website (ocearch.org) — the most followed shark tracking site and app in the world.

Last year, teams on 10 boats participating in the tournament, tagged and released 64 sharks, including 33 mako and 31 blue sharks. Not one was killed, and three of the four sharks fitted with tags are still pinging in.

Following months swimming in the mid-Atlantic, a shortfin mako called Rizzilient showed up on the coast of Portugal after its tag went silent for more than a month. OCEARCH’s collaborating scientists believe Rizzilient was caught by a commercial fisherman in the mid-Atlantic and the tag was brought back to the port. OCEARCH is currently in the process of trying to locate the tag and confirm the facts. April, another mako, has been hunting off the Maryland coast. And Beamer, the 200 lb. blue shark named by students at the Montauk school, has traveled more than 6,000 miles and is now off the coast of Panama.

Tagging operations in 2014 will again be led by Dr. Greg Skomal and Dr. Nancy Kohler. Satellite-tagged sharks will be named by competing anglers and local school children.

As last year’s winner Richie Nessel said, “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in a fishing tournament!”

The tournament and festival is supported by Montauk Marine Basin, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, OCEARCH, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Mote Marine Laboratory, AFTCO, Montauk Boatmen and Captains Association, and the Concerned Citizens of Montauk. In addition, “The Shark Brothers,” Sean and Brooks Paxton of Think Out Loud Productions, are back again this year to produce the tournament and festival.

The event will also continue its support of the Wounded Warrior Project by hosting a team of veterans competing with a boat and entry provided courtesy of renowned North Haven artist Eric Fischl.

While competition heats up on the water, there will also be plenty of fun and excitement for the entire family on shore at Montauk Marine Basin, the tournament and festival’s host location. The shark-themed festival is free to the public and will feature event sponsors, along with a wide variety of merchant vendors, unique attractions, interactive demonstrations and lots of delicious food and beverages all weekend on the waterfront.

For more info about the Shark’s Eye All-Release Tournament & Festival, visit sharkseyetournament.com or call Carl Darenberg of Montauk Marine Basin at 631-668-5900.

Shark tournament poster by April Gornik

Shark tournament poster by April Gornik, Credit: Montauk Marine Basin

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