Creators of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament and Festival and Organizers of the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament have announced plans to strengthen and share their commitment to conservation by cross-promoting their common missions and messages to the general public, press and media. The Ultimate Shark Challenge Tournament and Festival takes place in Punta Gorda’s downtown waterfront at Laishley Crab House at Laishley Park May 4 th – 6 th followed by the World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament in Boca Grande May 17th and 18th and the Downtown Tarpon Festival May 19th and 20th.
Both all-release tournaments feature exciting and innovative high-stakes competitions that also place an emphasis on best practices when it comes to the post-release welfare of their respective target species; sharks and tarpon. The common ground between the two events is clear when looking at the USC’s established mission to, “Combine the Goals of Sport, Science and Conservation” alongside the WRTT’s new message of, “Conservation, Education and Sportsmanship”. Strategic alliances include Mote Marine Laboratory and Mote Center for Shark Research, Guy Harvey Enterprises and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. The event’s respective festivals are free to the public and offer a host of family-friendly fun, excitement, entertainment and education.
Without a doubt, the main attraction at both events are the fishing tournaments, which also share boundaries within the same storied fishing grounds of Boca Grande Pass, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. While their marquis species are indeed very different, event organizers are quick to point out that, “Sharks and tarpon have been coexisting here for millions of years and that their symbiotic relationship is a matter of essential mutual benefit to a healthy marine and coastal environment. In many ways, that relationship is a great metaphor for why we’re collaborating with our events.”
USC Creators, Sean & Brooks Paxton add that, “We’re extremely fortunate to have this uniquely diverse environmental playground right here in our backyard. The area offers so many choices for not only boaters and recreational anglers, but anyone interested in an endless list of eco and adventure-based activities on land and sea. There really is something for everyone. We’re proud of that and feel a responsibility to protect and conserve these natural assets while promoting the region, the people and the businesses that rely upon and support them. We do that by leveraging purposeful entertainment that also educates and inspires people.”
Lew Hastings, Executive Director at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce and Tournament Director of the WRTT explains, “My goal is to strengthen and promote the financial growth and well being of the local businesses in order to sustain a healthy community. We see the constant threat of damage and destruction to the natural beauty and wildlife habitats that surround us and recognize that they can not and should not be looked upon as a cost of doing business. Exploitation of natural resources in the name of progress and financial gain leaves us all a great deal poorer in the end. The significant economic and environmental impact recreational fishing has on our communities, make conservation for a sustainable fishery not only preferable but necessary. Education and conservation of the fishery combined with sport fishing will be the primary focus. Safe boating, sportsmanship and responsible angling will be promoted in order to encourage a safe, successful family friendly atmosphere that will inspire everyone to engage in the protection and proper stewardship of our natural resources so that they may be enjoyed for generations to come.”