19 Apr 2010

FijiSun Newspaper Daily E News

Kadavu eco-adventure resort Matava is taking a leading international role with a major shark conservation initiative.

The resort is proud to be the first resort in Fiji to be certified Shark Safe.

Matava Director Stuart Gow said, “We have worked hard over the past few years to ensure that all the food, not just the fish, within our resturant ‘The Terrace’ here at Matava, are sustainable and natural”

“Matava, and our onsite fishing charters Bite Me Gamefishing Charters, are the first in Fiji to sign up and be awarded certification.

“We are now actively promoting, coordinating and distributing information about the Shark Safe certification programme around Fiji.” he continued.

Goals of the Shark Safe certification programme:

l Increase public awareness of the need for shark conservation.

l Reduce the sale, use, and trade of shark products. Shark Safe certification is designed to give discerning customers confidence that their choices help protect sharks.

Restaurants and businesses recognised as Shark Safe have met scientific criteria and stringent guidelines, and they are awarded the authorisation to display the Shark Safe logo.

The logo and its associated recognition and prestige will help attract customers to the business.

Since sharks are universally recognisable and tend to attract attention, customers and passers-by not already familiar with the programme will be drawn to the displayed logo and will be inquisitive. Participating establishments can provide literature about the Shark Safe programme, explain the basic premises, and direct people to the sharksafe.org website.

Christopher Chin, Executive Director and Founder of COARE and the Shark Safe Ceritifcation programme, said, “We’re thrilled to be working with Matava.

“For them, conservation and sustainability are not mere bylines, but a deeply held philosophy.

“The world would truly be a better place if more resorts were to follow Matava’s lead.”

Beginning with the city of San Francisco and neighbouring towns and cities, COARE and Wild Aid are organising a campaign to increase awareness of shark finning and the deleterious effects of sharkfin soup consumption.

The ultimate goal of this campaign is to encourage both communities and the city administrations to embrace a requirement that any shark fins used come from legal and sustainable fisheries.

As part of this project, COARE is proud to offer Shark Safe certification to businesses that distinguish themselves through their dedication to shark conservation.

Bite Me Gamefishing Charters actively avoids fishing for any species of shark and encourages this practice to be followed by all. By encouraging non-lethal ‘catch-and-release’ shark fishing gamefishers and those sharks inevitably caught accidentally can enjoy their sport while ensuring that shark populations are not further diminished.

By promoting sustainable practices of ocean management we hope that sharks will be around to keep our oceans healthy for generations to come.

“At Matava, and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters we are of course both happy and proud to be spearheading this initiative in the South Pacific and indeed the World,” said Matava Director and Bite Me Gamefishing Charter Captain, Captain Adrian Watt.

Captain Watt finished by saying “We would like to thank all friends and clients of Matava and Bite Me Gamefishing Charters past and present who have contributed to the success of our ecotourism principles and the resort and we look forward to exciting times ahead.”

The Shark Safe certification programme is a featured project of COARE: The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education.

COARE is a tax-exempt nonprofit organisation based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose purpose is to study our oceans and increase public awareness of the earth’s marine environment through educational programmes and outreach.

To learn more about COARE and its other projects, visit www.coare.org.

FijiSun Newspaper Daily E News

18 Apr 2010

Some Pics from this week

Le explains to the GTs what is required of them

Excellent popping weather that day

One of the new Hammerhead Designs - Worked very well

A big Patriot, didn't work so well for us here

Tri with a GT around 30kg

One of several caught on trolled stickbaits

A nice GT around 30kg for Le

17 Apr 2010

African Pompano on a Popper

Brett & Ashley

Took a very nice couple out for a bit of a fish aboard Tease Me last week.
Brett and Ashley from Montana USA. The bite was a little slow but Brett's dogged persistance paid off with a nice GT on a new style Buffalo Popper.

Ashley however first managed to snag a crocodile longtom in her braid line (and landed the fish !) and then proceeded to be the first ever angler here to land an African Pompano on a popper.

Resort divers often see Snub Nosed Dart (Pompano) and occasionally African Pompano but its the first African Pompano ever landed on rod and reel here !

Distinctive barring on the flanks

The African Pompano looks like a sort of cross between a GT and a Roosterfish. This one is a bit of a teenager as it is still showing some of its juvenile long trailing dorsal fins.

Only a face a mother could love !

6 Apr 2010

Fiji Record Mako Shark Released aboard Bite Me

Joe is hooked up but its not a swordfish....

I have been waiting for the opportunity to have a go at a Broadbill Swordfish here in the waters around Kadavu Island. I have done my research, talked to many experts and have a good idea of swordfish rigs and techniques. Yesterday afternoon we got our chance to try some out. With my deckie Joe as the designated angler, colleague Richard as photographer / deckie and friend Glen Gardener from the Sydney based charterboat Bounty Hunter as wireman, we set out with some very heavy weights and hit the deep water with a bent butt 130lb outfit.
This method of fishing was new to us but after stuffing up our first deep drop and learning a lot, we got our second drop just right and positioned our bait for a broadbill...

In less than 10 minutes we had our first bite though we didn't realise it at first. The bend in the rod from the deep set weight just eased and we considered the possibility that the weight had touched down on an uneven seafloor. Just as we were discussing the possibility of a 'lifting bite' when glen yelled "There's a big fish jumping over there !" We all looked out at a big ball of spray some 70 yards away......then a huge Mako shark erupted from the ocean surface and launched itself straight up at least 15ft into the air.......

For a second we all stared gobsmacked....an unbelievable sight...
Then Glen spots a leader on the fish and yells "We are on !" and I ball "We are freaking connected to that thing !!!" (or words of a similar theme...)
(Bedlam... bedlam.... bedlam.... in the cockpit)
Joe grabs the 130, straps himself into the chair and starts cranking in a huge belly of line in high gear. About 30 minutes later we have the Mako alongside and what an awesome fish it is... I have never seen anything quite like it !
Fortunately it behaves itself. (I have heard some scary stories about these sharks)

We check for a tag and after a couple of quick photos, we cut the leader right on the circle hook which is neatly tucked in the jaw corner using a safety knife/ release pole .

What an awesome creature !

The Shortfin Mako swims away unharmed

The smallest estimate of weight from all aboard was 150kg (I'm always a bit conservative) and the highest was 200kg. The fish was almost certainly a new Fiji Islands M-60 and All-Tackle National Record for Joe.
I am however delighted to say that there is no way in hell any of us would have harmed such a magnificent creature, even if it had been a World Record so the fish was released unharmed, save for a small new piece of jewelry in the corner jaw that shouldn't cause any harm and should be shed in the near future.
I consider myself privileged to have had such a close look at this magnificent and awe inspiring fish.

Short Fin Mako caught in Kadavu (and of course released!)

Yesterday we had a go at a swordfish with Joe in the chair. 
Deep bait dropped down to 450m. 7 minutes into our second drop we had this guy explode from the surface and leap 15 feet into the air.... For a second we all stopped and stared....then we realised we were connected to it !
We fought the fish alongside....and released.....
Short Fin Mako Shark
It would have been a Fiji National (All-Tackle) Record.....
Is this a cool fish or what !!!

4 Apr 2010

How to convert a Diver into an Angler

Our Matava Eco-Adventure Resort PADI Dive Instructor has spent much of her life underwater watching fish but never tried to actually catch one.... So the other afternoon Joe and deckie Glen took her out front to get the resort guests some fresh Yellowfin Tuna sashimi...

Louise soon discovered how much fun catching dinner can be....

When we asked her if she was diving tomorrow she said "Hell No ! I'm going fishing !

Ooops...I think we need a new PADI Dive Instructor....

3 Apr 2010

Shy Blue Marlin but More GTs Tagged

Tim and Paul Wedlock came with their father John to treat themselves to a boys fishing get-away and have a go for some marlin with the heavy tackle aboard Bite Me. Unfortunately the marlin bite was very quiet this week. In three days of offshore fishing in some pretty ordinary weather, the boys raised just one nice blue marlin around 400lbs that smashed a rigger, jumped around the spread and managed to throw the hook. There were plenty of school yellowfin around and catching dinner at least was easy. With the weather starting to improve on their last day the guys decided to have a go at Kadavu Islands famous GTs....

Tim tagged and released this excellent fish of around 30kg measuring 44" short length, 32" girth using a pink/white R2S Dumbell 200 Popper

Paul weighed in first with his first GT around 12kg...

Then upped his PB with this healthy 40" fish of about 25kg on a red/gold Buffalo Popper

All three GTs were tagged and released quickly and in good condition. Lets hope we see them again next season and get some new measurements.