2013-11-07 / Nature

Newport Eyed for Monster Shark Tournament

By Tom Shevlin

Monster Shark Tournament Martha’s Vineyard 2012. Monster Shark Tournament Martha’s Vineyard 2012. Long known as a focal point for the international sailing community, Newport might also be on its way to hosting a world-class shark tournament.

Organizers of the Monster Shark Tournament, which for the past 20 years has operated out of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, have been reportedly making overtures to area businesses in advance of potentially moving the tournament to Newport.

Billed as the largest offshore fishing competition in New England, the Monster Shark Tournament has become a summertime staple for Martha’s Vineyard, luring dozens of boats and hundreds of anglers to the island each year.

Now, its organizers are beginning to firm up plans to bring the event to Newport.

Considered the Super Bowl of shark fishing by enthusiasts, the Monster Shark Tournament has been carried on ESPN, NBC Sports, and covered widely across national news outlets.

Last spring, reports began to surface on Martha’s Vineyard that the tournament’s organizer – the Boston Big Game Fishing Club – was considering moving the event to Rhode Island. Those rumors were further fueled last month in a report from The Martha’s Vineyard Times, which reported that hotel owners have been notified that the tournament would not return to the island for the 2014 season.

Locally, marina owners and charter boat captains have said that they’ve also heard reports that the tournament might be making a move to the city, but, citing ongoing negotiations, couldn’t confirm that a decision had been made.

The tournament, which attracted the national spotlight in 2005 with the catch of a record-breaking 1,191-pound tiger shark, boasts the highest minimum catch weight of any similar tournament and could be a boon for the local economy if it does in fact come to Newport.

Organizers also point out that 98 percent of the sharks caught during the tournament are released as part of a robust conservation program that only permits the largest sharks to be brought to shore. Last year, only 12 sharks were landed, the largest being a 429-pound porbeagle.

According to the Boston Big Game Fishing Club website, 85 boats participated in the 2013 Monster Shark Tournament.

Steven James, the president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club, wouldn’t confirm the move just yet, but said that an announcement related to the tournament’s future location would be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

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