Controversy has rocked game fishing with the “winners” of a North Carolina tournament stripped of their prize check after it emerged their winning fish – a 619lb blue marlin – appeared to have been mauled by sharks.
The massive catch by the crew named Sensation was disqualified by tournament officials, the NY Post reported, under long standing rules that state that a winning fish must not be mutilated by sharks of other predators.
“It was determined that Sensation’s 619.4 lb. Blue Marlin is disqualified due to mutilation caused by a shark or other marine animal,” the tourney officials wrote in a statement Sunday. “It was deemed that the fish was mutilated before it was landed or boated and therefore it was disqualified.”
The decision came after “careful deliberation and discussions” with tournament officials from the 65th Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City, N.C. and experts.
Sensation’s captain, Greg McCoy, told the Washington Post his crew believed they were winners after battling to hook the huge marlin for hours.
“It’s the final hour, the final day and we fought with him for six hours,” McCoy told the newspaper. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Marlin Brought Back to Dock, but ruled ineligible
He said he was shocked when the mutilation rule came up.
Looking at the fish, it is possible to see a large bit mark near its anal fin.
“Winning” fish had a clear bite mark on its body
The tournament, in its statement, said the decision to disqualify Sensation’s catch was consistent with past rulings and in line with the International Game Fish Association rule book.
A crew named Sushi ended up winning the tournament, in its 65th year, by landing a 484.5-pound (220kg) blue marlin, tournament officials said.
Tournament officials noted 271 boats competed in this year’s competition.
According to the Washington Post, some game fishing competitions like Big Rock use the mutilation rule to account for crews that strike a fish with their boat, making it easier to subdue. Fish bitten by sharks and other sea creatures can also make for easier catches, experts that spoke to the Post said.
Greg McCoy said his team did not cheat and believed the fish was compliant with tournament rules when they brought it on shore.
You can see a behind the scenes video on the capture of the fish here.
See the Crew’s Amazing Catch
Sensation Owner Speaks out, calls for common sense
Sensation Sportsfishing’s owner Ashby Bleau was interviewed on Pirate Radio Live calling for rule changes and common sense to prevail in these situations.
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