Sunny skies and great weather greeted and stayed with the 29 boats taking part October 4 to 11 in the weeklong 45th Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament, initially started in 1959. The Custos Rotolorum of Portland, the Most Honourable Roy Thompson greeted the anglers and then led them out on the Coast Guard cutter HMJS Middlesex to a spectacular Bimini Start at the entrance to the Port Antonio Harbour.
Over 120 Jamaican Anglers competed against Canadians (4), Haitians (5), USA (7), Cayman Islands (3), Italian (1), Swiss (1) and Bahamian (1) anglers in the weeklong activity. Fishing was to be on Monday and Tuesday; Thursday and Friday. The Lay (Rest) Day on Wednesday 8th October 2008 was to be occupied with a 40-strong canoe entry for the 24th Local “Artesian” Canoe Tournament.
A total of 20 marlin were caught and subdued in the fight, 11 were successfully Tagged and Released, eight were landed as First Marlin Ever caught, an exemption to the rule, while a border-line marlin of 253 lb. was landed and disqualified as it did not reach the tournament minimum length of 99 inches.
The winning Team of Macs’d Out, a 55’ Princess, had a Tagged & Released Marlin on the second day and then moved into first place with 2 marlin Tagged & Released on the Thursday. They went on to win the Appleton Rums Trophy and an invitation to the “Olympics of Fishing”, the Bonnier-IGFA Offshore World Championships to be held in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on May 10th to 15th 2009. Second Place went to “Team Intrepid” with 2 marlin Tagged & Released.
The Local Canoe Tournament with 3 artesian fisher-folk (one female team) in each canoe attracted 40 registered canoes and one caught a 151 lb. marlin to win the Magnum Tonic Wine Trophy and cash award. The artesian fishermen use only 2-300 lb. hand-lines in their fight.
A highlight was the visit of Dr. Peter Chaibongsai from The Billfish Foundation who gave several talks on the current TBF-billfish tagging programme and visited and talked to the artesian folk on the value of redemption of recovered or recaptured tags. He reported a 2008 Panama recapture from a Negril, Jamaica release in 2005, the first ever reported recapture from the island. This was from a charter boat Head First, a regular participant in the Port Antonio event. Tagging and Release has been the accepted practice in Port Antonio since 1990 with almost 400 releases documented by camera-verification.
Reported and photo of winning team submitted by Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament