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MEDIA RELEASE - Community groups benefit from tuna fishing competition

14 July 2017

Portland Lions Club has received an injection of more than $4000 to support its community work as a result of Portland’s popular Hooked on Tuna Fishing competition.

The month long fishing extravaganza attracted more than 170 amateur fishers in April raising funding for the Lions Club who will use the cash injection to support the Portland Coast Guard and other important local community projects.

The competition is a joint initiative of the Glenelg Shire Council, Portland Lions Club and Portland Sport Fishing Club. It was won by local fisher Hugh Johnston, 15, the competition’s youngest entrant, who lured a 59.6kg tuna to share in more than $12,000 in prizemoney.

The celebrations were headlined by celebrity chef Justine Schofield of Masterchef fame who held tuna cooking demonstrations, while fishing experts, including lure king Peter Pakula, provided workshops on how to use the right tackle to snare the biggest catch.

Event co-organiser Michael Hunter, a member of the Portland Lions Club, said it was pleasing to be able to deliver funding to a vital community organisation, such as the Portland Coast Guard.

“The Portland Coast Guard provide an invaluable service to the south-west coastline helping vessels when they are in need, acting as their eyes on the water. The Portland team were instrumental during the festival, ensuring our fishing competition ran smoothly, with fishers ensured they were taking to the water in the safest conditions,” Mr Hunter said.

“This funding will assist the Coast Guard’s dedicated volunteers to invest in much needed equipment to continue this vital service.”

Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr Anita Rank said the festival further strengthened Portland’s position as an adventure tourism destination, with accommodation and food outlets bustling with business over the month long competition.

“Portland is well recognised as Australia’s southern Bluefin tuna capital and this competition has further cemented this profile,” she said.

“For the month of April, Portland was the destination of choice for fishers from all over Victoria and South Australia who wanted to share in this huge prize pool and snare the elusive 100kg haul.

“For a second year in a row we had 100kg barrels caught during the week, but no one managed to lure one over the weekend festivities.”

Cr Rank praised the efforts of the Portland Lions Club, who coordinated registrations, Portland Sports Fishing Club who led weigh-ins, and the Coast Guard’s safety role ensured the success of the event.

“This event would not be the success it is without the efforts of these hard working individuals who were up each Saturday and Sunday at sunrise and returned in the afternoon to ensure our fishers were well catered for. I thank each and everyone for their dedicated work.

“Portland is quickly growing a profile as the region’s events capital with festivals like this highlighting our great tourism offerings. These events are not a success without the passionate work of these hardworking volunteers who are great strength in our community.”

Portland will welcome a new fishing competition on the Australia Day long weekend in 2018 as part of the new Hooked on Portland Festival, running from January 26 to 28.

Organisers will reunite to run a smaller version of the month-long competition for the inaugural festival, which is being coordinated by the Glenelg Shire Council in conjunction with Fisheries Victoria.

Cr Rank said the event would showcase the region’s tourism attractions, food and wine, and further position Portland as Australia’s tuna capital.

“The goal is to position the Hooked on Portland festival as an iconic Victorian event, showcasing the region to a broader audience, particularly the metropolitan Melbourne scene,” she said

“Council’s tourism unit is currently locking-in key performers and entertainment for this three day festival with more news to be announced in the coming weeks.”

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