Fishing with a mission: 2015 Billfish Tournament

NSU’s Oceanographic Center will partner with the Marine Industries Association of South Florida to present the Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament on Feb. 28, which raises merit-based scholarships for oceanographic doctoral students.

Around 20 boats, including NSU community members and local fishermen, are expected to participate this year.

Last year’s tournament raised more than $80,000, which went directly to fund scholarships for students at the OC for studies on fisheries, coral reefs and the marine ecosystems at local, national and international levels.

Max Appelman, fisheries research assistant, said all proceeds directly support students at the OC as they conduct pivotal research in the field of marine science.

“Unfortunately there is a disconnect between fishermen and marine research, even though these groups are the leading conservationists and promoters of sustainable fishing,” Appelman said. “In addition to providing student scholarships, this is a great way to bring awareness to the state-of-the-art fisheries and coral reef research conducted at the OC. This tournament bridges that gap between fishermen and research, which [to me] is the most rewarding part of being involved with this tournament.”

Appelman said this tournament promotes marine education and sustainable fishing, while providing some friendly competition among participants, and brings science and fishermen together.

“NSU takes pride in this tournament, hosts with the same respect and class as all the major fishing tournaments across the state and provides the marine ambiance that a billfish tournament demands,” he said.

As this tournament supports an institution of higher learning, there’s an educational component built in to the event. Director of NSUs Fisheries Research Lab David Kerstetter said NSU students and professors will gather tissue and other samples from the fish caught for further study at the OC labs.

“Anglers can stop by the sampling tent and not only watch us collect samples, but also interact with some of the very students benefiting from the tournament monies and learn about our ongoing research,” he said.

The 2015 Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament is divided into two days.

The tournament will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. at the Bahia Mar Marina on Feb. 28. Contestants will be able to weigh in their fish by 4 p.m., scales opening at 2 p.m. Following the event, there will be an awards reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bahia Mar Waterfront Gardens.

The tournament will be preceded by a kickoff party on Feb. 27 from 6 to 10 p.m. at the OC. The party will include a cocktail reception, a tour of the OC and a Captain’s Meeting, in which individuals who have been designated as boat captions for the tournament will socialize and learn the tournament’s rules.

Tournament entry fees vary. Participants unaffiliated with NSU pay $1,000. NSU students, faculty, staff and alumni pay $500, which includes one boat entry and two tickets to the Captain’s Meeting and the post-tournament awards banquet. Tickets for only the Captain’s Meeting and post-tournament reception are $50 each.

Appelman said, regardless of the fishing outcome, participants always head home with the same great attitude they had when they left the docks that morning.

“They’re proud to have made their contribution to marine research and promote the sustainability of their true passion: fishing,” he said.

Interested participants and sponsors are urged to contact tournament officials via email or by calling 954-262-2105. You can find more information about the 2015 Fort Lauderdale Billfish Tournament online at

Photo Credit: Courtesy of

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