Although a crew of anglers that reeled in a 600-pound blue marlin in mid-June has been officially disqualified from winning first place, the Sensation crew has since hired legal counsel to challenge that decision. Given the disqualification, the crew not only loses bragging rights, but also loses the opportunity to accept the $3 million prize. Before a final decision was made, a careful deliberation was held amongst the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Rules Committee, Board of Directors, biologists from both NC State CMAST and NC Marine Fisheries, and an official from the International Game Fish Association.
The entities concluded that based on the mutilated condition of the blue marlin, the crew’s catch could not be considered as the winning fish. Hours after learning of the loss, however, the crew of the Sensation protested, citing past instances where the rules were loosely interpreted. According to the anglers’ argument, tournament officials have arbitrarily applied the rules over the years and based on their assessment of the six-hour fight to reel in the marlin, it was probable that the visible bite marks near the tail did not deter the marlin. The fishermen insist that they did not break the rules or cheat.
Despite these claims, tournament officials have made it clear that the rules are applied religiously year after year and this disqualification remains consistent with prior rulings. The large bites on the underbelly and tail area of the marlin could have aided in the crew’s ability to catch it quicker than other boats. As a result, the crew will not collect the $3 million payout, which consists of $2.77 million for the first prize spot and $739,500 for reeling in the first catch of the year over 500 pounds. The crew of the second-place boat Sushi was named the winner, with a blue marlin weighing in at over 100 pounds less than the Sensation fishermen’s catch.