The Fishermen’s Memorial Committee accepted a $30,000 donation Feb. 28. The money was raised through the revived Boothbay Harbor Tuna Challenge held last September.
Tuna Challenge Chairman and Carousel Marina Manager Jax van der Veen and Dock & Facility Manager Evan Hepburn presented the check to Fishermen’s Memorial Committee board members Andrew Morley, Troy Lewis, Brenda Blackman, Ryan Casey and Nicholas Morley, who is also the co-chair of the tuna tournament.
Andrew Morley noted the committee had raised no funds on its own since the last Fishermen’s Festival in 2015. Morley’s history with the Festival dates back to the 1980s. A former lobsterman, he was also involved in all the behind-the-scenes details and remains committed to the Memorial and lobster/fishermen past and present.
“The Fishermen’s Memorial Fund was established for two purposes: Mainly to build the memorial and to support a scholarship fund for a graduating senior going into maritime studies,” Morley said. “We usually gave $1,000 the first year and as the student continued the scholarship was based on what we had raised. More recently it’s been $1,000 a semester as the student got further through school.”
Morley said the Fishermen’s Memorial Committee is moving forward with some projects immediately: An irrigation system is being installed to help keep the grass green; changing out all the electric services at Fishermen’s Memorial Park; old lighting will be replaced by higher efficiency LED lights. And, at some point, the Committee wants to see some of the stonework repaired.
“We’ve just about wrapped up any of the permits we need to get. Without the continued revenue we’ve had to hold off. I’ve always been amazed at the wide swath of support there’s been for the Memorial and Fishermen’s Festival. Bringing back the tuna tournament … it’s perfect timing for the Memorial, and we appreciate it.”
Boothbay Harbor Tuna Challenge prize money and the Fishermen’s Memorial donation came from entry fees; sponsors; a raffle that netted almost $20,000; and proceeds from the auction, lobsterbake, T-shirts and hats.
“It was really cool,” said van der Veen. “All 60 boats were from Maine and 90% of them had lobster rigging on them. We were giving to the Fishermen’s Memorial and really rooting for fishermen at the end of the day. We were very grateful to see what the tournament could bring to the community while giving commercial fishermen the opportunity to do something fun and something they are good at – fishing the Maine waters. And to be able to give them a reasonable reward (top prize was $30,000) for it. Everyone who came in said how fun it was and how they’d never fished a tournament like this while they were at the scales.”
Carousel Marina is hosting the second annual Boothbay Harbor Tuna Challenge Sept. 1-9, with tentative fishing dates of Sept. 3-7. This year, the number of competitors was raised to 75 – and 75 captains have already signed up in a little over one month! Van der Veen said she has a waiting list for 2024. For more information, visit https://www.boothbayharbortunachallenge.com and www.boothbayregister.com
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