Mercury Marine honored at Classic for conservation donation


PITTSBURGH — The state of Wisconsin and BASS honored Mercury Marine on Friday with a certificate of appreciation for its $15,000 contribution to help support a study of culling effects on fisheries during tournaments.

"BASS Conservation was pleased to work with Mercury Marine and direct their Mercury/BASS Conservation sponsorship dollars where they will have national significance," said Noreen Clough, BASS conservation director.

The $15,000 donation will be used by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to research the economic impact of tournaments and the biological impacts of culling, the catching and holding alive of a legal size fish until a larger fish of the same species is caught. Then, the smaller fish is released.

Wisconsin currently prohibits the use of culling, but with the donation, BASS and Mercury hope to prove through biological research that culling does not adversely impact the fish population.

"Our goal is to have culling permitted in the state of Wisconsin," said Chris Horton, associate director of BASS conservation. "We would like the opportunity to bring more tournaments to the state and hope this study will ensure culling is allowed. Mercury's contribution is allowing this study to be done appropriately."

Mercury is the leading manufacturer of marine propulsion systems and a premier BASS sponsor based in Fond Du Lac, Wis. "We're really excited about this honor as we help ESPN and BASS grow the sport," said Michelle Kilburn, manager of tournaments and events for Mercury. "It was especially exciting to begin our efforts right in our own backyard as we partner with BASS in our conservation efforts."

Kilburn is a member of a Wisconsin task force that helps define what temporary culling regulations should accomplish. The task force, representing the sport fishing community, is reviewing and may suggest recommendations on the size and adequacy of livewell systems.

"Mercury has always been a key supporter of BASS tournament fishing and aquatic resource conservation," said Clough. "That they have chosen to help fund the study to determine the effects of culling, Mercury is able to demonstrate that commitment."

The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage July 29-31.