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Tofino’s Race for the Blue fishing derby casts philanthropic net

‘Thankful Thursday’ garners over 7,200 cans of tuna for local food banks
Tofino Resort + Marina teamed up with Nanaimo’s St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse this year to bring albacore tuna to local food banks. (Tofino Resort photo)

Anglers in Tofino Resort + Marina’s (TRM) third annual Race for Blue Tuna Shoot-out reeled in some goodwill this year.

On Sept. 17, each participating team donated every albacore tuna caught to a local food bank. The new initiative dubbed ‘Thankful Thursday’ is in partnership with the St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse in Nanaimo.

“We are expecting to make significant impact and contribution on Thursday. Everything is weather dependent with the offshore fishing, but from the last two years the anglers could expect significant tuna per boat during the day,” said TRM’s marketing manager Kristina Lee, adding that the event was close to sold out this year with 24 boats participating.

She said about 20 teams ended up fishing on Thursday and 360 tuna fish were caught at roughly 17 pounds per fish.

“That’s about 7,200 cans of fish in one day,” said Lee.

“With the success from the last two years, we wanted to make 2020 have an additional focus to give back to our communities. With the most recent turn of global events during the Covid-19 pandemic, we recognize how important our local communities are and have committed to holding Race For the Blue in a responsible and safe way,” she went on to say.

The week-long sportfishing event comes with a hefty prize purse of $25,000 to the boat that lands the largest aggregate amount albacore tuna (out of four). To catch albacore tuna, anglers must motor anywhere from 30 to 100 miles offshore.

“Race for the Blue is about catching amazing memories with friends, old and new, which has always been our goal,” said Lee.

“Our mission is to facilitate and reinvent the public perception of sport fishing tournaments across the Pacific Northwest, defining the future of the ever growing blue water fishery off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. [Race for the Blue] focuses on allowing participants to experience the excitement of the blue water and Pacific albacore tuna fishing while supporting a sustainable fishery in B.C.’s rarely-visited offshore destination,” she said.

The canned tuna produced from ‘Thankful Thursday’ will be donated to the Food Bank on the Edge, the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild farm box program, the Wickaninnish Community School kids healthy program as well as neighbouring First Nations communities.

“We are working closely with the First Nations groups who have been instrumental in delivering food straight to those who need it,” said Lee.

Willie Mitchell and his team at TRM will host the third annual Fish for the Future tournament in Tofino next weekend, Sept. 25-27.

This catch-and-release salmon tournament with 100 per cent of all revenue, dollar for dollar, going toward wild salmon protection and research projects.

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