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"Super Bowl" of Shark Tournaments Moves to RI This Summer

Organizers have confirmed the Monster Shark Tournament is coming to Rhode Island waters after a 20-year run out of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.

Photo courtesy: Martha's Vineyard Monster Shark Tournament via Facebook.
Photo courtesy: Martha's Vineyard Monster Shark Tournament via Facebook.
Organizers of the Monster Shark Tournament confirmed this week that the famous sport fishing event will be coming to Newport this summer, ending a 20-year run out of Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.

The tournament had been held in Oak Bluffs for two decades but talk that the tournament could move has embroiled the sportfishing community there for years.

Massachusetts state shark expert Greg Skomal told CapeCodOnline.com that the tournament will run from July 17 through 20.

Steve James, president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, died while duck hunting in January. He reportedly was already in talks to move the controversial event to Newport when he died.

Meanwhile, another group, Sharks Fund Fishing, has announced a tournament in New Bedford on the same weekend.

Back in Oak Bluffs, where mood for the shark tournament was increasingly negative, a new "Oak Bluffs Blue Water Classic" will be held. In that tournament, all sharks and marlin would be released at sea.

Before his passing, James told Newport This Week that he planned to make the weekend a major event.

"It's an event, a real world-class event," he said. "We have people plan their whole summer vacations around fishing the tournament."

The event historically has drawn hundreds of fishermen and has been covered by ESPN. At its peak, it was bringing millions into the local economy and had as many as 300 boats participating. Those numbers had dropped off in recent years, CapeCodOnline.com reported, with the field dwindling to about 100 boats.


Bill the 1st March 04, 2014 at 10:43 AM
@Shutterbug, really? You've never heard of anything so stupid and destructive? We've been exterminating species for 10s of thousands of years, if not more. As for this particular tournament, as I said, there are many shark tournaments in the region every year. A few extra sharks caught will have no impact at all towards the overall shark population. As for the balanced marine ecosystem, you're right. It is necessary to have that for optimal health of our seas. Unfortunately, we don't have that and haven't had that for a very long time. In Southern New England, Cod stocks are overfished and not recovering. Winter flounder are overfished and not recovering. Summer flounder will likely be overfished this year. Squeteague (weakfish) are over fished. Tautog (blackfish) are overfished. River herring are overfished and thwarted by dams. Salmon are essentially extirpated (locally extinct). Atlantic sturgeon are essentially extirpated. The inshore mackerel fishery is gone from RI shores. Bluefin tuna are fewer and smaller. Balance is gone from our waters. If anything, at this point apex predators are a hinderence to the recovery of our fish stocks and the restoration of balance.
Shutterbug ! March 04, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Bill, much of what you've said is true. We HAVE been exterminating species for thousands of years. However, that doesn't justify these tournaments. We've lost the passenger pigeon, bison, wolves, and, yes, many species of fish from overfishing and dams that block our rivers. Though we have fishing quotas that are supposed to help in fisheries recovery, it doesn't help to set an example of indiscriminate fishing tournaments that make a game out of who can catch the most or largest. Every time humans interfere, or let their greed take over, wildlife suffer, and ultimately humans are affected, as well. (Every time I purchase salmon, I try to buy Pacific wild, since Atlantic or farmed is NOT a good choice.) If Joe Mariani is correct, and what he says is true, then maybe there's some justification for a shark tournament. But are his statements correct? I have no problem with tag and release programs, or some of the meat feeding the poor. But I don't like the craze that these tournaments seem to encourage. As for an economy boost, you won't find me in Newport for that.
Bill the 1st March 04, 2014 at 11:35 AM
@Shutterbug, it would seem that Joe Mariani is entirely correct. From the Boston Big Game Fishing website "During the 2008 Monster Shark Tournament, 202 vessels retained a total of 26 sharks after two days of fishing." and this, "The Monster Shark Tournament participants have historically released over 97% of the total number of sharks that are caught during the two day fishing event"
Cara Lane March 04, 2014 at 08:46 PM
I have personal experience with this tournament. It occurred (past tense, fortunately) within steps from where I live in OB. The rules are that undersized sharks be caught and released. But the rules are broken. Many boats in the harbor display their bloody dead sharks, some showing off just the jaws from the decapitated. The crowds of heavy drinkers do frequent the bars on the harbor but they certainly do not appreciate the food nor the finer establishments both the Vineyard and Newport have to offer. They leave more strewn waste than that leftover by a college frat house after a long weekend. As a server who relies quite heavily on tourists during the summer months, I usually welcome visitors. But as I said in my prior post, this sort of attraction really will downmarket the city.
Shutterbug ! March 05, 2014 at 10:24 AM
Cara, you have just added justification for my concerns regarding this shark fishing tournament. Even with the best of intentions, rules ARE broken! Sadly, it reminds me of the shooting tournaments in the early 1900's, whereby scores of participants got together to see how many passenger pigeons they could shoot out of the sky. We all know the result of that debacle. I can't think of anything more decadent than killing, not for food or protection, but for pleasure!!! I thought that we had overcome man's basest traits, but evidently not. I intend to boycott Newport should this be allowed.

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