GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 September) – Gale and gusty winds on the second day of the 2012 Tuna Game Fishing Tournament forced tournament director Commodore Marfenio Tan (AFP, res) to call off the first ever tuna fishing competition here as safety of the participants became a major concern.
Three anglers had already set off on the second day of the promising tournament when strong winds and swollen seas again struck.
The rest of the participants coming from Manila, Cebu and host General Santos were no longer allowed to come out as the weather grew rougher at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
A total of 12 anglers set sail from the Tan-owned SACI wharf Monday morning.
Tan said the anglers were disappointed but promised to be back next year.
Tan said fishermen who were sent in advance for test angling were able to catch two yellowfin tuna the day before the anglers arrived at the fish aggregating device (FAD) deployed some 56 nautical miles southwest of General Santos.
“We saw tuna jumping all over when we arrived,” Tan said.
The first day of the tournament however yielded zero catch with only Canadian Richard Sharpe reporting a strike. He however failed to land his catch.
“It was a double strike but my lines got entangled,” he later reported at the end of the first day despite the anglers getting their taste of fishing weather down south were the country’s handline tuna fishers who made General Santos famous as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.”
Still, the anglers were excited going into the second day. Despite an overcast skies, some anglers were already off and running but another gale struck just as the rest of the anglers were about to be roped off.
Thinking it was just a passing one, Tan waited for about an hour before allowing the rest of the anglers to go out. But at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Tan, a reserve commodore in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, received radio reports that high waves are going their direction due to a brewing low pressure area farther south of the FAD.
Tan decided to call off the tournament on account of bad weather.
Before the start of the tournament, a low pressure area east of Mindanao was already spotted. Although the LPA eventually turned into a tropical storm it went upward the direction of Quezon in Luzon. Although the tropical storm Helen was far from the fishing ground, its tailwind turned the seas off Celebes into a rough one, making tuna angling dangerous.
Sixty-three-year-old David Sharpe, a former member of the Royal British Navy and a retired fireman, said he enjoyed the trip although he was disappointed the tournament was canceled.
Asked if he will be back next year, he said: “Heck, I will be back next month.”
His son Richard later told the welcome party organized by the city government upon their arrival Tuesday evening that he too is coming back and will bring more anglers next year.
Lawyer Gordon Uy, a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Game Fishing Foundation, said more anglers will be interested in joining the tuna fishing tournament which, he added, is the most difficult of all game fishing competition.
He urged organizers to give advance notice of the tournament next year.
“Preferably by January so that it can be calendared for next year’s schedule of game fishing tournaments,” Uy said.
Injury struck one of the participants as Wilson Tan, a Chinese national from Manila who was among the three anglers able to go out on the second day, suffered a deep wound above his right ankle when he slipped from a motorized banca as he was being transferred to a tender boat which brought him to the secretariat yacht.
Luckily, a doctor-angler was also on board as participant and immediately administered the first aid. He was later brought to the hospital.
Dr. Benedicto Albano said Tan’s cut was superficial and did not damage any muscle tissue and artery.
The tournament participants were (from Manila) Grodon Uy, Wilson Tan, Joseph Lee, Jimmy Soner and King Nocom. From Cebu were father-and-son tandem David and Richard Sharpe. Marfenio Tan, Alex Ong, Erico Uy, Dr. Benedicto Albano and Fructuoso Pacayra represented the host city General Santos. (Edwin G. Espejo / MindaNews contributor)