TBF’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS AWARD WINNERS 2023
The Billfish Foundation (TBF), the world’s leading sportfishing conservation organization for marlin, sailfish, spearfish, and associated highly migratory fish, announces this year’s winners of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards. TBF’s Lifetime Achievement Awards are named in honor of distinguished people who made exemplary contributions to advancing billfish research and conservation throughout their lives.
THE JOHN RYBOVICH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This award is named in honor of John Rybovich, a former TBF board member and trailblazer in billfish conservation. As a founder of the Sailfish Conservation Club, the all-release Master’s Angling Tournament, the Tournament of Champions, and the Gold Cup, Rybovich focused on setting a standard for billfish sustainability. With his brothers, Emil and Tommy, the family business was the first to develop the first offshore sportfishing boat equipped with a tower, outriggers, fighting chair, transom door and big engines.
This award recognizes an individual whose actions exemplify Rybovich’s sportfishing conservation legacy while advancing the economic stability of the related industry.
This year’s winner is Paul Spencer. Raised on the North Carolina coast, he began working as an offshore summer mate at the age of 12, before eventually acquiring his captain’s license and starting a successful career as a gifted captain and angler. In 1996, he began a second career as a boat builder, encouraged by his father in law, Sheldon Midgett. There he would learn to combine vessel function with performance, helping to craft the elegant “Carolina Style” Spencer Yacht. Today, Spencer boats are known worldwide. With his background in fishing, combined with his expertise in vessel craftsmanship, Spencer understood how the future of boatbuilding and fisheries conservation would go hand in hand. He continues to be an advocate for responsible fisheries management and a strong supporter of TBF.
THE PAXSON H. “PACKY” OFFIELD LIFETIME SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This prestigious award honors a former TBF board member who believed passionately in the value of science. He funded a wide variety of billfish research that supported responsible billfish management and conservation. Offield’s 16-year commitment to TBF advanced billfish research and policy further than ever before. Billfish conservation is now receiving attention by decision makers not only in the United States, but also through international treaty management organizations. Offield recognized taking science-based policy strategies into the management arenas is the most effective way to improve the status of the fish, fishing and the oceans.
The 2023 winner of the Paxson Offield Lifetime Science Achievement Award is Dr. Guy Harvey. Through the Guy Harvey Foundation, he has helped to advance the conservation of billfish and the marine environment as a whole.
Since childhood, Harvey has surrounded himself with fishing and marine life, eventually becoming a leading voice for our oceans and the marine environment. He utilizes his time to educate our community regarding the state of our oceans and our fisheries, emphasizing how research and science are needed to support responsible management. As an artist, Harvey captures the ocean’s beauty with scientifically accurate depictions and vibrantly stunning artwork. As we all know, his authentic artwork would eventually grow into a vehicle for awareness and the need to support our natural ecosystems through cause-oriented research. By combining research into an experiential educational platform, Harvey and his foundation have been able to teach multiple generations around the world about the oceans’ health and how we can take action to make positive impacts.
Award presentations will be made during TBF’s annual fundraiser on Friday, October 27, 2023, at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, Florida. Information about the event will be made in the near future.
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 sportfishing opportunities would remain available worldwide.