THE ABMT STORY - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The ABMT is the name that our volunteer group calls itself. We are based in the US Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas. “ABMT” represents the initials of the 45 year old blue marlin tournament that we operate to help supplement the income of a vocational training school that we operate. The tournament was originally named the ‘Governor’s Cup’ and nicknamed the “Boy Scout” until its name officially became the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (ABMT). Founders Chuck Senf, Jim Meehan and Winthrop Rockefeller Jr. would be proud to know that their beloved fishing/fundraiser for the youth of the island is still in existence. Photos - Richard 'Doc' Gibson ABMT GROWTH
The ABMT has grown over the years and is known world-wide for its conservation efforts and high standards. Rules were written in the early eighties that mandated the release of blue marlin unless deemed to be a potential world record. Not one blue marlin has been put on the dock since! The tournament is also recognized for its development of angling rules that ensure that fairness prevails amongst the competitors. All registered participants - regardless of their financial status, individual skill levels or their relationship with the boat owner – are to be treated equally. These rules are considered to be the format of an “Anglers” tournament. To honor the accomplishment of the winners beautiful ‘hook’ trophies (1st, 2nd and 3rd) are created each year by artist Ed Pang. Pang was also the artist who was commissioned to develop the tournament’s perpetual trophy named “Straight Up”.OUR LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
Newly announced during the tournament's 44th year of operation was the addition of a "Team Division" designed to attract anglers who would like to support the ABMT's mission... and agreeing to abide by IGFA rules - but not wanting to fish by the additional rules (hourly rod rotation, minimum of 2 anglers, etc.) required of those entered in the "Angler Division". Making it both interesting and exciting, both divisions are competing for the same Calcutta, Daily's and Last Day Shootout!
Back during the change over from the traditional “boating” of all catches to a “catch and release” format it was felt that onboard observers would be needed to witness and confirm the following of angling rules and to independely verify the species of fish that are recorded as a release. The need for qualified observers triggered the ABMT’s involvement in the development of IGFA’s Certified Observer Program (COP) in which we were instrumental in both the writing of the IGFA training manual and in the actual training of the observer applicants.
Next was our development of the tournament series known as the Bermuda Triangle Series which was later followed by its sister series the Spanish Main Series. Those events were tested for several years and plans are to return to their operation when the filming of both series becomes a financial reality.
One of our proudest achievements came along with the development of the BIG GAME ROOM, which grew to become an “attraction inside of an attraction” at the Miami International Boat Show.
As a reward for our efforts, the NMMA (show operators) provided the ABMT with prime booth space for twelve years.
Certainly not to be left off the list of accomplishments was our creation of a popular fishing magazine named ON THE EDGE which is read world-wide, both in print (25,000 copies printed) and online at: www.abmt.vi/pages/otedirective.htm. The magazine is distributed year-round to 450 locations on the mainland and here in the Virgin Islands. Thus far there have been 10 yearly issues.
Our promotional platform (magazine, website, social media, etc.) is large and its reach enables us to self-promote our various activities. The ABMT website: www.abmt.vi receives thousands of web readers and there is currently a social media following of 5,400+ Facebook fans. Combined with our name recognition and promotional trips to the Fort Lauderdale and Miami boat shows, we are well positioned to promote our latest development… MARLINFEST!"BIG FIVE"
MarlinFest is headed into its fifth year of existence and is designed to become an annual trek for those who are engaged in the sport of Big Game Fishing. MarlinFest is not the normal “Boat Show” atmosphere, rather it is a “fishing expo” staged around the excitement of our famous USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament.
Visitors enjoy a week of fun activities (chowder challenge, music concert, bvi excursion, center console tournament, bbq beach party, and more!) that are planned for their enjoyment. Importantly, the venue affords the industry (boat builders, engine and equipment manufacturers, boat brokers, etc.) an opportunity to meet both their dealers and their clients at the same time the “Super Bowl of Big Game Fishing” is also being staged! It’s felt that MarlinFest will grow in popularity and will eventually be added to the ‘Bucket List’ of sports fishermen around the world! Primary goals will be reached when major companies announce that they’ll be holding their dealer meetings here on St. Thomas during MarlinFest!
WET N' WILD CENTER CONSOLE TOURNAMENT
Newly developing and exciting is the ABMT's 'Wet N' Wild' Center Console Tournament. Species sought after are the "Big 5" which are Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna. Anglers compete by IGFA rules for "points" earned for catches on 30 or 50 pound test line. Billfish must be released (exception being a potential world record) and meat fish have minimum weight requirements. St. Thomas Airport
Fishermen throughout the Caribbean are being invited to participate and boat builders and owners of center consoles on the mainland are being approached with the idea of shipping (on organized shipping dates) their boats down to the Virgin Islands for a fun summer of marlin fishing and exploring the US and British Virgin Islands with family and friends.
Catches a Big Fish!
the once 'all tackle' igfa world record (1282lbs.) that was captured on the north drop of the virgin islands has come back home! fish was caught by angler larry martin aboard xiphias on aug. 6, 1977. THE MARINE VOCATIONAL PROGRAM (MVP)
"mimi" the marlin was annually displayed in the abmt's 'big game room' booth for 12 years until the miami beach convention center was torn down for renovation. at the same time the st. thomas airport had just completed its renovation and it was thought that the fish should be donated as a beautiful centerpiece. a community project throughout - Gray Taxidermy refinished and crated the mount, Crowley Shipping shipped the huge box (took up a 20' container) and the students at 'My Brother's Workshop' built the 10' x 10' "dock" platform that it rests on. Its a beautiful display that also serves as an outlet for our 'On The Edge' magazine and we thank everyone for their individual contribution and for helping to make the project a huge success!
And FINALLY OUR MAIN PURPOSE...
As written, the ABMT has grown and it now requires a year-round effort to keep it going. Being that we are a volunteer group (43 years) – one might wonder what continues to motivate this group? The earlier goals to promote these islands as a world-class fishing destination have long been accomplished. Why develop more projects that add to the workload? The answer is because we are in continual need of funding for our most important accomplishment - the Marine Vocational Program (MVP).
Both of our organizations, the ABMT and MVP, are now registered US Virgin Islands non-profit corporations. In addition, the Marine Vocational Program has now received its IRS 501 (c-3) non-profit status. Per its design, the role of the ABMT is to promote the destination and to profit from its efforts - helping to provide funding for the MVP. The mission of the MVP is to develop a marine vocational school for the purpose of providing students with a career path into the tourism and hospitality industry. We feel the economic future of these islands and the wellness of the community depends greatly on its youth being taught to earn their “piece of the action.”
MVP students are started off with swimming lessons to make them comfortable and safe when around the water. They then move on to sailing, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking and other water related skills. As they become proficient at these “fun” activities… training programs that will prepare them for employment in the tourism/hospitality industry will be taught. We are currently serving members of the Boys and Girls Club and the Jr. Academy of Ecology and Gardening. Other youth organizations are being invited to participate and large growth is anticipated.
The business community is invited to partner with us. We realize there are other organizations that also ask for your support – frankly we believe that we are among the more beneficial to the island. Please contact us at (340) 775-9500 if you wish to show your financial support. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
The MVP enjoys a 501 (c)(3) US IRS tax exempt status. Tax deductable checks are written to: Marine Vocational Program, Inc. Mailing address is: MVP, 6616 Estate Nadir, St. Thomas, VI 00802. See the MVP students in action: See Here And boasting a bit... The MVP was born from our development of "release" fishing tournaments - we elected to put our kids into the water rather than taking the marlin out of it!
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