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Editorial: Tarpon fishers, please read!

January 9, 2015
By Guest Columnist

SAVE THE TARPON – For almost a decade, the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series used a snagging device, misleadingly characterized as a “jig,” to capture large breeding females in Boca Grande Pass. More fish and more chaos, meant more revenue for their TV reality show. Tournament participants would gaff and drag the fish to a scale on the beach where the lifeless tarpon would be hoisted up for all of TV land to see.

Well, with your help, we made sure this so-called “jig” was exposed for what it was, a glorified snatch hook. And, in September of 2013, the FWC ruled 7-0 to ban the device.

We also made sure the gaffing, dragging and dumping of this iconic sportfish was seen for what it truly was–the selfish and unnecessary destruction of a irreplaceable fishery.

Well, PTTS owners, Gary Ingman, Joe Mercurio and Vickie Mize, didn’t like us putting a public resource before their personal revenue, so they decided to punish us for speaking out by filing a retaliatory lawsuit against Save The Tarpon and its directors.

The PTTS action quickly revealed itself to be little more than a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. A SLAPP Suit is a tactic of last resort typically employed by deep pocket plaintiffs, a maneuver designed to spend advocacy groups like Save The Tarpon into submission by endlessly dragging them through the court system – and keeping them there until they ultimately run out of money.

Two counties and two judges later, that’s where Save The Tarpon finds itself. The people who brought us gaff and drag, the Boca Grande Pass snag hook, the wrap boats, the Spandex ballet and, of course, the “controlled chaos,” have now brought us dangerously close to the point where our ability to SLAPP back could be in jeopardy. Its time we put a end to the relentless bullying. Enough is enough!

Go to and donate to our “legal defense fund.” Even a few bucks will help to let the PTTS know we won’t be silenced.