The Paxson H. Offield Lifetime Science Achievement Award
The award is named in honor of a former TBF board member, who believed passionately in the value of science to support responsible conservation and management. Offield’s support of billfish science guaranteed TBF’s billfish advocacy remained firmly grounded in science, as it remains today. Offield was the first among TBF trustees to deploy satellite tags with collected data now being incorporated into stock assessments.
This year’s recipient is Dr. James “Jim” Franks from the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Lab, Ocean Springs, MS, who has invested 40 plus years as a fish scientist advancing research on billfish, bluefin tuna, tarpon and many other species in the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, he has served as a leader with the Gulf & Caribbean Fisheries Institute advancing sustainable use and conservation throughout the region. Franks’ work with graduate students, including having them assist him in taking samples from many species landed during a local billfish tournament.
The Winthrop P Rockefeller Lifetime Achievement Award
The award is named in honor of TBF’s Founder, a well-known angler, philanthropist and owner, at the time, of Allied Marine in Miami. Rockefeller sought scientific advice to identify the most pressing billfish research needs. He was told stock assessments, which dictated TBF’s first research commitment, followed by many other areas of research, though stock assessment science remains a priority. He also was committed to introducing children to fishing.
This year’s recipient is Carl Liederman, President of Captain Harry’s Fishing Supply, Miami, Florida, who has invested extensive volunteer time over decades with recreational fishing non-profit organizations. His tenacity and knowledge were, and still remain valuable in assisting organizations when countering governmental measures that would negatively impact recreational fishing and related businesses. As a businessman in the industry, his firsthand knowledge provides valuable insight to potential economic fallout, at the same time he recognizes that good conservation and management pays.
The John Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award
The award is named in honor of a former board member and pioneer in billfish conservation and development of the first offshore sportfishing boat equipped with a tower, outriggers, fighting chair and big engines. Conservation was also a priority for which he helped found the Sailfish Conservation Club, the Masters Angling Tournament, the Tournament of Champions to raise funds for conservation and the Gold Cup.
This year’s recipient, Captain Skip Smith, a former TBF board member, is recognized for his long commitment to responsible fishing practices, his world renowned achievements as a sportfishing captain when running the Madam and the Hooker, and his support of TBF. Smith has volunteered repeatedly to assist TBF’s president on gear issues, once in in Washington, D.C. by presenting an expert’s opinion and demonstration of techniques to government decision makers.
Club of Excellence Award
Tuna Club of Avalon – 120 years old
Established in 1898 by Charles Frederick Holder, author, sportsman, naturalist and co-founder of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the Club, located on Catalina Island, California remains a leader 120 years later. Other prominent early members included Zane Grey, Cecile B. DeMile, Fitch Dewey, H.K. McComber, Colonel C.P. Morehouse, Greer Campbell, Clifford R. Scudder, Edward L. Duke and W.J. Landers. Numerous honorary memberships were granted to Presidents and other dignitaries. Club members recorded the first rod and reel catches of bluefin tuna, marlin, and swordfish and established strict angling rules requiring only light tackle to give the fish a sporting chance to win.
A favorite tradition in the Club consists of its annual Linen One tournament in which all tackle has to be pre-1952, bamboo rods, with 3/6 linen line when targeting marlin, tuna, dorado, or yellowfin. The Club is a member of TBF.
Ocean City Light Tackle Club – 71 years old
Established in 1947 by a group of men who had fished together for a decade, including Alan M. Ferguson. Ferguson had gained recognition in 1940 by landing a white marlin weighing 114.5 pounds on 6/9 thread, which set a world record and placed Ocean City on the sportfishing map. The group established the Club wanting to support conservation and responsible fishing ethics. The 6/9 thread was agreed upon to be the “proper tackle” for white marlin. Ferguson served as first President, James O’Donnell, Jr. as Vice-President and John F. Kerkam as Secretary. Club members Ferguson and O’Donnel pioneered the practice of catch and release of white marlin, a first, which distinguished the Club from all others at the time. Other early members included Reginald H. Foster, Harry R. Fowler, B. Tiffany Doane, Louis S. Allen, John E. Larson, Thomas Healy, Joseph True and W. Barney Harris.
Each year the Club hosts a Derby, the first held in Ocean City, but in the 1980s the Derby began to be held in other locations in the U.S. and in other nations, some being hosted by other clubs. When called upon Club members provided financial support and participated in TBF’s white marlin satellite tagging expedition. The Club is a member of TBF.