Thanks to everyone for all the well-wishes regarding my recent induction into the IGFA Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was a grand event and I am very honored to be included in such a distingushed group of fishing pioneers and professionals. Since many of you couldn’t be at the HOF ceremony, I tought I would post my acceptance speech here. Thanks again for all the kind words and tight lines!
International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame Induction Speech October 27, 2009
“Thank you very much Mark [Mark Sosin – 2004 IGFA HOF inductee and Masters of Ceremony for the 2009 induction event]. Mark set a standard in his TV shows for many other hosts to follow, including me, and I am particularly appreciative of your advice and assistance. I am looking forward to the day when you teach me how to catch a sailfish on a cigar!
Congratulations to the other deserving people being honored tonight. The international nature of the IGFA is reflected in the range of nationalities awarded here, a Costa Rican, an Auzzie, two Americans and a Jamaican. Jack, it’s good to see you here, mate!
Ever since I can remember I have been FISHING. All that time ago, just the mention of the names like Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Glassell, John Morris, Joan Wulff, Stu Apte, Mark Sosin conjured images of pioneers in their respective fields, who I wanted to meet. Well…. I eventually did. One of the people then, who had the most dramatic impact on me was Pierre Clostermann. As a boy I had two favorite books to read, one was The Old Man and the Sea, and the other was the best unbiased narrative of the air war in the Battle of Britain from WWII, a book called “The Big Show”, by Pierre Clostermann. I would read these books every week. Then, as I grew older, I discovered that not only did Pierre Clostermann fish a great deal, but he was also an IGFA trustee. I finally met him at the first IGFA auction 25 years ago in Palm Beach, and we became great friends after that. Hemingway had been out of reach for a while, and so Pierre was my first living mentor.
There have been others along the way, people who I have met through the IGFA board or through my business and that I have admired and respected and who have made their own mark in this sport that embraces…. so many disciplines. There have been many innovators in our hundred year old sport, from boat designers, tackle inventors, authors, scientists, resource managers and administrators, all pioneers in their time, whose dedication and INDUSTRY have allowed us to arrive at this point.
I feel fortunate that I have had the SAME opportunity to be as creative as they were and transform a hobby into becoming an integral part of our sport fishing CULTURE and HERITAGE.
I am certainly not the first, there being several other successful marine sport fishing artists to have made their mark; Lynne Bogue Hunt, (already in the HoF), Stanley Meltzoff, Russ Smiley, Kent Ullberg, Al Barnes, and Don Ray to name the best. The CHALLENGE has been in creating the process whereby this art is made available to a wide cross section of society. I had a lot of help from a series of wonderful people in the last two decades, many of whom are here tonight, but I must thank the late Scott Boyd, Barbara Currie, Charlie Forman and Raleigh Werking who got the process going, and more recently Bill Shedd and his AFTCO team who have taken the business to new heights. In those early years I received considerable support and encouragement from the IGFA through the efforts of the late chairman Elwood Harry, and the immediate past President of IGFA, Mike Leech.
Of all the other artists in this genre, Kent Ullberg has been my reference and guiding force, a man whose illustrious fine art career is littered with awards. Kent has helped our tiny niche to make a very large impact in the world of WILD LIFE ART which has even raised a few eyebrows in the realm of FINE ART.
This profession has been and continues to be most gratifying. The process of creating new work, inspired by a myriad of encounters above and below the surface, is exciting enough. I have visited many exotic angling locations, but ONLY A FEW have tolerated my presence more than once…. particularly Tropic Star Lodge which is the greatest big game angling destination in the western hemisphere. Such is the inspiration derived from this unique place that I recently completed a 334 page book about the angling history and magnificent fishery this remote location has to offer. In these pages I was able to engage all my disciplines; art, photography, TV documentaries, science, conservation and story-telling….boy are there some stories! After all….It’s a book about… FISHING.
I have just released another book, called “Fishes of the Open Ocean“, authored by well known Australian fish biologist Dr. Julian Pepperell and with 170 images illustrated by me. It is the first reference book of its kind, which describes all the fish that inhabit the epi- pelagic zone of the open ocean at some point in their life history. Here Julian needed my services as a fish illustrator, and I was very glad to assist him with this book.
In the thirty years that I have been in the business of painting marine wildlife there have been many failures, but fortunately more successes. And with that success there comes… RESPONSIBILITY. During this same time we have witnessed the rapid decline of species that are the ICONS of our sport. Human population growth and the increasing demand for protein have brought many species to the brink of extinction. Nowadays, many of us sitting in this room, spend more time trying to save these creatures rather than actually fishing for them. For wild life artists generally, the task at hand is to reflect this concern in our work, and as more environmental issues come to the fore, so my art and that of other artists and their subject matter becomes more relevant in people’s personal experience and in what they see happening around them.
This concern has been the driving force in the formation of the Guy Harvey Research Institute ten years ago, and more recently the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, my new organization mandated to raise funds necessary to carry out research work and to conduct education and outreach. The demise of all these species is CONSUMER driven, so now the emphasis is to educate consumers about ISSUES that face marine resources. To most people, any creature living beneath the surface is out of sight, therefore OUT OF MIND. In a restaurant or supermarket situation, the consumer gives little consideration to what species this is or from whence it came.
Research… followed by education… leads to conservation. My goal has been and continues to be… raise the funds for research, and use the art and TV to educate the consumer… for whom conservation will become second nature.
I have many people I want to thank, but firstly I want to thank the IGFA for giving me this recognition, which is in acknowledgement of a TEAM EFFORT. I am very fortunate in that I have a great TEAM at Guy Harvey Inc., (Steve, Harvey, Missy, Pat, Jay, Todd and Greg) and in Grand Cayman, James, Mariasol and Bruno all of whom have contributed a huge amount of effort and loyalty toward achieving our goal. In addition I want to thank our MAJOR partners; Bill Shedd and the AFTCO team, and Peter MacFarland with his team at the Guy Harvey Island Grill.
There are some other unique personalities I have met along this route, one of whom is Bill Boyce. Bill has been a great friend for many years and whose angling ability, photographic magic, friendship and zest for life have all resulted in some unique experiences in many far flung locations. Another such person is Tim Choate who has pioneered many of the great fishing destinations I have been fortunate enough to visit, such as in Guatemala, and the Galapagos. Tim’s latest project has been the coordination of the governments of Central America, through CABA, to recognize billfish as a recreational fishing resource. Keep up the good work my friend.
I want to acknowledge the continued assistance of my TV director and producer, Ken Kavanaugh at Bonnier Corporation, plus two tremendous camera guys, Rick Westphal, and Dee Gele, who foolishly followed me around several continents for five years getting into harm’s way. Diana Udel has also played a very important role in producing my first TV series, and in the landmark documentary we produced for PBS, “BILLFISH, NOMADS OF THE OCEANS.”
David Ritchie has made a big impact as editorial director at Bonnier Corporation and has edited two of my four books, the most recent one being “Panama Paradise: A tribute to Tropic Star Lodge”.
I want to thank all the great captains and mates who have shared their vast knowledge and experiences with me, and put me on some great fish both topside and… in underwater encounters. Among them are Bobby Dehart, the late Dan Timmons, Clay Hensley, the late Jim Davis, Laurie Wright, Trevor Cockle, Skip Smith, O.B. O’Bryan, Jimmy Grant, Travis Peterson, Barkey Garnsey, Peter Wright and Anthony Mendillo, plus some of the amazing captains in Guatemala and Costa Rica, but particularly those captains and mates at Tropic Star Lodge in Panama.
I want to acknowledge the significant role played by Dr. Mahmood Shivji at the GHRI and Dean Dick Dodge at NSU Oceanographic Centre. Many of you will have read about Mahmood’s research efforts mostly on sharks, sponsored by funds generated from my licensing programs.
Family; They are HERE! I have my Mum, two brothers Jonno and Piers, his wife Connie and daughter Mikayla. My beautiful wife Gillian is here plus my daughter Jessica, and my son Alexander. Luckily we have been able to wet a line or two together, and go for some exciting dives with them over the years. By the way, my Mum was the first lady angler in Jamaica, to catch two blue marlin in one day back in 1967.
Thank you for supporting the IGFA. Please have a great evening and I look forward to seeing many of you back here tomorrow night for the 2nd annual fundraiser and auction to support the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.
TIGHT LINES and GOOD LUCK!”