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SPEARFISHING enthusiasts saw the clouds part for the day, drenching competitors in the Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation (MUFF) with sunshine instead of rain.
This year's 8th Annual Marianas Spearfishing Challenge fielded 42 underwater anglers, tying to prove if they were tough enough to compete for the MUFF.
With the sun beating down on the unforgiving concrete dock and platform next to the Fishermen's Co-Op, absorbing and then radiating heat like a well-oiled frying pan located at the Hagåtña Boat Basin, competitors began to deliver their catch for the final weigh-in by 2 p.m.
Manning the scales were MUFF President James Borja and weigh-master for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries Eric Cruz.
Cruz, hoping to fill in what he called “data gaps,” commented about his involvement as the tournament's weigh-master saying, “This is a spearfishing tournament and those guys are trying to bring in the biggest. They can fill in the data gaps that we cannot get from the commercial markets. We've already had one of the groups donate one of their fish, one we really don't see too much in the Co-Op, a jack.”
Cruz then shed further light on the use of the data by telling Variety: “We use the data to do life history studies pertaining to aging and reproduction. We're putting all the data from the samples into what's all the international barcode of life. This is where DNA from all living things, all plants and animals, are being collected from around the world and they're extracting a sequence from the DNA that's pretty unique for each species.”
Looking at his watch from time to time, making sure all teams were at the scales by no later than 3 p.m., Borja, in explaining the rules, stated: “All teams have to be back by 3 p.m. and, if not, they will be DQ'd (disqualified).”
Speaking about diver safety and environmental preservation, Borja explained, "Each team can only win in one category. It's a level playing field for everybody and it's not about everybody going out there and shooting everything up. We challenge each of the teams to go out and shoot one of the certain species and most people shot one of each category. You cannot fish the preserves. It's a mandatory two-man team. We focus on safety, a one up and one down rule. We're trying to practice that for safety. Both spearfishing and free diving can be dangerous.”
Each team, Borja explained, will be vying for prizes. “This year we have over $9,000 in prizes,” he said.
Fifth-place finishers B.J. Rolinski and Carl Dela Cruz didn't win the competition but thoroughly enjoyed the event. When asked about what presented him with the event's greatest challenges, Dela Cruz said, “Holding my breath and adapting to the water because it was rough.”
After all the fish were done being weighed and sorted, it was Ray Flores and Mike Cassidy who ranked in first place, with the tandem delivering just over 50 pounds of fish. Roy Laguana and Troy Williams snatched the second spot with 38.45, while Jose Villagomez and Frank Quidachay locked up third place with 23.54 pounds.
Click here for more results of the 8th Annual Marianas Spearfishing Challenge.
Special category winners:
- Roman Quinata / Kelly Lizama = Lagua, 6.550 lbs.
- Chase Weir / Eric Flores = Tataga, 5.634 lbs.
- Monique Genereux / Pat Atherton = Guili, 2.962 lbs.
- Ken Quan = Salmonete, 1.886 lbs.
- Todd Genereux / Juan Taijeron = Hangon, 0.950 lbs.