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Marina del Rey Halibut Derby put on one-year hiatus

March 1, 2010 |  9:07 am

James Muro of Woodland Hills won top honors in 2009 with his 41.1 pound halibut. The annual Marina del Rey Halibut Derby has been put on hiatus for one year in an effort to help halibut populations increase in the Santa Monica Bay, where the tournament is held.

"We want to make sure our MDR Halibut Derby is good for thousands of loyal participants as well as our beloved halibut," said Josh Gerson, incoming president of Marina del Rey Anglers, the nonprofit fishing and conservation organization that hosts the event.

Although the sustainability of California halibut is good along the state's coastline, the club's board of directors is concerned about the health of the Santa Monica Bay and the halibut population in it.

"Our first obligation is to the Santa Monica Bay, the marine environments, our local halibut fishery and the communities we serve," Gerson said. "We hope to be back in full force in 2011."

Normally scheduled for April or May, the event has been held since 1974, with proceeds funding marine environmental and conservation programs as well as youth fishing programs.

Members of Marina del Rey Anglers are working with groups such as the California Department of Fish and Game, United Anglers of Southern California, Heal the Bay and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, trying to determine why there seems to be a decline of halibut in the bay.

"This past year we invited top marine fishery and environmental scientists from various government and non-government agencies to address our club in our attempt to understand why the halibut may not be visiting our Santa Monica Bay in their historical numbers," said Bob Godfrey, the group's secretary and past president. "We are going to keep looking at the question and for this coming year give our local Santa Monica Bay halibut a rest."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: James Muro of Woodland Hills won top honors in 2009 with his 41.1 pound halibut. Credit: Anna Diaz / Marina del Rey Anglers

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