The Billfish Foundation has announced the winners of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement and Club of Excellence awards. The Lifetime Achievement Awards are named in honor of three distinguished gentlemen who made exemplary contributions to advancing billfish research and conservation throughout their lives. The Club Award is in recognition of big game fishing clubs that have contributed to advancing the conservation and management of billfish and other species, responsible sportfishing fishing and support of TBF.
The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Carl Liederman from Miami, Florida, for his extensive volunteer work over the decades with recreational fishing organizations. His tenacity and knowledge were, and still remain, valuable in assisting organizations counter governmental measures that negatively impact recreational fishing and related businesses. In addition, as president of Captain Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami, Florida, his ability to identify potential economic fallout from proposed management measures is valuable for organizations developing advocacy strategies for specific campaigns. He also recognizes that good fish conservation and management measures return benefits to the fish and related businesses.
The John Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Capt. Skip Smith of Lighthouse Point, Florida. Smith is a former TBF board member and is recognized for his long commitment to responsible fishing practices, his world renowned achievements as a sport-fishing captain when running The Madam and The Hooker, the latter of which he now owns and charters in Costa Rica. He is responsible for 48 world records while fishing all over the world. Smith is the president of Smith-Merritt Insurance and is a successful producer of first-class tournament in the Caribbean. He has volunteered repeatedly to assist TBF’s president on gear issues, once in Washington, D.C. by presenting an expert’s opinion and demonstrating techniques to government decision makers.
The Paxton H. Offield Lifetime Science Achievement Award will be presented to Dr. James “Jim” Franks, a fisheries biologist with 40 years of research experience in the Gulf of Mexico. He is a senior research scientist with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He has authored or co-authored over 50 scientific papers on the biology and ecology of marine fishes. He serves on TBF’s satellite tagging team in the Gulf of Mexico. Franks is a member of fish conservation organizations and serves on fisheries resource management committees, including the Western Central Atlantic Ocean Fishery Commission’s Scientific Advisory Group. He is a member and a recent Past-Chair of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.
For the Clubs of Excellence Awards, TBF honors the 120-year old Tuna Club of Avalon established by Charles Frederick Holder, author, sportsman, naturalist and co-founder of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, with other anglers committed to responsible fishing ethics. Being 120 years old, the history of the Club is considered the history of big-game fishing, one and the same, with goals to elevate the sport to its highest standard and for the protection of the game fish in Southern California. Club members also made the world’s first rod and reel captures of tuna, marlin and broadbill swordfish.
TBF is also honoring the 71-year old Ocean City Light Tackle Club established by a group of men, who had fished together for a decade, including Alan M. Ferguson. In 1940 Ferguson landed a 114.5-pound white marlin on 6/9 threat, setting a world record and placing Ocean City on the sport-fishing map. Soon after the Club was established members adopted light tackle as the appropriate gear for white marlin. Two Club members went further and pioneered the practice of catch and release of white marlin.
Award presentations will be made during TBF’s annual gala on Friday, November 2, 2017 at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida. TBF is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization created in 1986 by anglers to insure the advancement of billfish research needed to support healthy stocks of fish so great sport-fishing opportunities would remain available worldwide.