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Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Winning Catch Of-fish-ially Disqualified

By: Hunter Ding

On June 9-18, the Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament occurred. It is a fishing tournament involving catching Blue Marlin. The winning gamefish is based on weight. The competition has evolved much over the years. Very high entry fees were introduced, cash rewards were increased astronomically, and it received some complicated rules¬–rules that supposedly explain exactly why a 619.4-pound fish was disqualified for having a bite taken out of it.

I read the article and read the rules, and I conclude that the fish was unfairly disqualified.

For my argument, I’m going to need to give context. On the 6th day of the BRBM tournament, the ship Sensation brought back a 619.4 lb fish. However, there was a bite near the gamefish’s tail which complicated things. On Sunday morning, it was officially declared disqualified due to “mutilation by a shark or other marine animal.” The captain of the ship then filed a protest against this ruling.

According to the official pdf of the rules, the only rule regarding mutilation is: “IGFA rules apply regarding mutilated fish. The Rules Committee reserves the right to cut open any fish for inspection of suspected weight altering efforts such as inserted weights, ice, water, etc.” But it was also declared by officials at the contest: “It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and therefore it was disqualified.” Those two statements don’t add up.

So what if it was landed or boated after its disfigurement? If they found any sign of weight modification, the article would have mentioned it. “If a fish has a chunk taken out of it, whether it be by a boat or another fish or shark or whatever, it's not going to be fighting to its full potential. So that's the rationale behind it,” the IGFA's Jack Vitek said in 2019. It’s quite ridiculous logic. Even at decreased potential, it still was the heaviest fish. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that a mutilated fish outdoing the competition at its full potential is still the clear winner.

Rule breaking is not to be taken lightly, but unsaid rules are quite unjust, because figuring out the rules adds unnecessary issues. Fishing is a recreational sport meant for relaxation, not an event where you should have to think about what you’re doing and if it is violating some hidden rule. To punish contestants for something off the rulebooks causes the tournament to deviate from its original purpose: pleasure and entertainment.

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