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Billfish Tournament Yields Fun & Research January 15, 2015

The mission of the Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament, produced by Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center in partnership with MIASF, is the premier not for profit fishing tournament in the southeast benefitting education and research. The annual tournament is a conservation and recognition-(non-monetary) based fishing event with the mandate of the release of game fish and responsible take of fun fish. Fun fish activities include the harvesting of invasive lionfish and tagging and releasing sharks.

The tournament begins with the Kick-off Party and Captain’s Meeting on Friday, February 27 at the NSU Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research. The fishing tournament, weigh-in and an awards reception will be held on February 28 at Bahia Mar. Sponsors are always welcome; see the link below for more information.

Net proceeds from tournament fees and other donations create the endowed NSUOC Fishing Tournament Scholarship Fund. The endowment provides scholarship support to attract, retain, encourage and support high academically achieving and productive graduate students engaged in outstanding research in the marine sciences. The fund also enhances the ability of NSUOC faculty and staff to recruit and retain students of the highest caliber and who have demonstrated significant intellectual and productivity characteristics.

Important NSUOC projects have been making news recently. To help protect marine life against oil spills, researchers are monitoring corals to see how they react to oil. The information will be used by coastal authorities in cases of events similar to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. “Should they use a dispersant? Or is it better for corals to not use a dispersant?” Abigail Renegar, an oceanographic scientist with NSUOC, told reporters in a story in the Sun Sentinel on January 4.”These are the types of hard decisions that will need to be made.”

And Brian Walker, a scientist from NSUOC, was surprised to find more than 38 acres of staghorn coral along the coasts in Broward and nearby counties while surveying for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “This was an unexpected result of a project that was intended to improve our knowledge of the types and locations of near-shore reef habitats in southeast Florida,” Walker explained to the Sun Sentinel on January 2. The staghorn coral find is considered significant because of its ability to build reefs, creating habitat for fish and other marine creatures and providing a natural wave-break that protects the coast.

The staghorn discovery is tied to another project Walker and NSUOC are working on: The Our Florida Reefs Community Working Group is crafting recommendations to balance use and protection of southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Input is sought from the marine community to include in the project; visit www.OurFloridaReefs.org and click “Mapping” to contribute.

For more information, visit www.nova.edu/fishingtournament.

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733