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Alaskan Fisherman Wins West Marine Green Product of the Year Award

ANGLER TURNED INVENTOR WINS WEST MARINE'S $10,000 PRIZE FOR THE BLACKTIP CATCH & RELEASE RECOMPRESSION TOOL

Watsonville, Calif. - (February 17, 2011) - Today, West Marine, the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, awarded the BlackTip Catch & Release Recompression Tool the grand prize for the second annual Green Product of the Year contest. The $10,000 prize was presented to the product's inventor, retired Alaska charter fisherman, Ace Callaway.

A study on the problems of fatal barotrauma in deep-water game fish by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department turned into a problem-solving quest for Ace Callaway. His invention is a simple, effective, and low-cost way to reduce fish mortality rates.

The retired Alaskan charter fisherman knew that deep-water species had a high mortality rate due to the change in pressure from their habitat to the water's surface. The study, however, showed that fish fatalities could be nearly eliminated if the fish was returned immediately to their natural environment. After experimenting with different methods such as baskets, bent wires and barbless fish hooks, Callaway found that either the fish was swimming away before reaching the appropriate depth or it was being injured in the process.

"I have always wanted to leave this world a better place than I found it, and I feel this release will save thousands of fish," said Callaway. "Hopefully this device will be my legacy that will help to preserve what I have come to enjoy and love so much - fishing."

Designed to reduce the effects of barotrauma on deep-water fish, the BlackTip Catch & Release Recompression Tool simply clamps firmly, but safely, onto the fish's jaw and is lowered by hand, downrigger or rod and reel.  A weight, supplied by the angler, pulls the fish down until the device hits bottom and automatically releases.  Testing revealed that a 5-pound weight works on fish up to 20 pounds. The BlackTip Catch & Release Recompression Tool has been safely tested with weights up to 30 pounds for larger fish.

The panel of esteemed judges who selected the winning entry included: Dr. Randy Kochevar, Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station; Mike Sutton, VP & Director for the Center for the Future of the Oceans; Dr. Laura Strohm, President of Strohm Sustainability Consulting; Jim Leishman, Owner & VP of Nordhavn Yachts; Bill Lee, Owner, Wizard Yacht Sales; Margaret Podlich, VP of Government Affairs, BoatU.S.; Larry Smith, Senior VP of Allocation & Planning, West Marine; Chuck Hawley, VP Product Information, West Marine; and Randy Repass, Chairman and Founder of West Marine.

The judges made their selection based on effectiveness, cost-competitiveness, environmental impact, degree of innovation, verification of claims and compliance with official rules. 

"The BlackTip Catch & Release Recompression Tool addresses a real problem, in a way that is simple, effective and affordable," said Dr. Randy Kochevar, a marine biologist at Stanford University. "Using this innovative tool, any fisherman can make sure that a fish returned to the wild has the best possible chance of survival." 

This annual competition is open to manufacturers, distributors and/or inventors of boating products throughout the United States.  For more information about the Green Product of the Year contest, go to www.westmarine.com.

ABOUT WEST MARINE
West Marine, the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, has more than 325 company-operated stores located in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada and three franchised stores located in Turkey. Our call center and Internet channels offer customers over 60,000 products and the convenience of exchanging catalog and Internet purchases at our store locations. Our Port Supply division is one of the largest wholesale distributors of marine equipment serving boat manufacturers, marine services, commercial vessel operators and government agencies. For more information on West Marine's products and store locations, or to start shopping, visit westmarine.com or call 1-800-BOATING (1-800-262-8464).

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