Fame for big game


MIAMI  In acknowledgement of more than three decades of exceptional conservation efforts and fishing achievements, Capt. Joan Vernon will be inducted into the 2009 Big Game Room Hall of Fame on Feb. 12, at 5 p.m., at the Miami International Boat Show.

A long-time light tackle and fly enthusiast, Vernon, of Key Biscayne, Fla., is being recognized for her special contributions to the sport of big game fishing. Along with the induction ceremony The Big Game Room is partnering with The Billfish Foundation (TBF) for the presentation's ceremony of its 19th annual International Tag & Release Awards.

A renowned angler, captain and tournament director her tenacity for advancing billfish conservation is known and appreciated far and wide. Over a decade ago she championed the use of circle hooks over the use of "J" hooks for the safe release of billfish and raised funds for studies on the use of circle hooks as a conservation tool to further reduce billfish mortality.

"Joan is also an energetic supporter of satellite tagging projects and the advancement of the marine sciences," said TBF President Ellen Peel. "Her Presidential Challenge Series tournaments across Central and South America and the Yamaha-Contender Miami Billfish Tournament which she helped found have been supporters of TBF for many years."

Vernon is the immediate past chairman of The Billfish Foundation. In 2007, she was named as one of six finalists for the Hero of Conservation Award by Field & Stream magazine.

Along with TBF, other sponsors of the Big Game Room Hall of Fame induction and the 2009 International Tag & Release Awards Ceremony include Smith-Merritt Insurance, Marlin, Salt Water Sportsman and Sport Fishing magazines. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. on the Big Game Room seminar stage, immediately following Ms. Vernon's induction into the Big Game Room Hall of Fame.

Following her induction TBF will honor captains, anglers and mates from around the world who have volunteered and committed themselves to tag and release conservation. Their efforts have allowed TBF to collect and disseminate data to scientists and policy makers; to learn more about, effectively manage and conserve the variety of Atlantic and Pacific marlin, sailfish, swordfish and other pelagic species.

The Billfish Foundation reception is by invitation. For more information please go to the TBF website (billfish.org) or call Elliott Stark at 800-438 8247 x 101.

Established in 1986 by the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller, The Billfish Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to conserving and enhancing billfish populations worldwide. With world headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., TBF's comprehensive network of members and supporters includes anglers, captains, mates, tournament directors, clubs, sport fishing and tourism businesses. By coordinating efforts and speaking with one voice, the organization works for solutions that are good for billfish, not punitive to recreational anglers and good for the local economy.