The popular one-day class will be held at the Marine Resource Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at the Fort Johnson campus on James Island.
The COP class trains and certifies experienced anglers, boat captains and crew members as observers for fishing tournaments held around the world. The course includes species Identification, IGFA saltwater fishing rules and regulations, safety at sea and boating etiquette.
"An increasing number of tournaments are asking for a pool of qualified witnesses to monitor the observance of rules and fishing practices," said Michele Sedge, the IGFA's COP coordinator. "The purpose of the IGFA's COP is to provide those observers.
"Most significantly, the COP class teaches observers about billfish identification, thus reducing or eliminating the need for fish to be brought back to dock for official scoring. We're hearing that the classes we've held in the Carolinas have been popular for training those persons connected with the large number of tournaments along the Atlantic coast and in international waters of the Caribbean.
The IGFA's COP which was started in 2002 has trained nearly 900 observers and has held 25 classes in five states, two US territories and three foreign countries.
Sedge said the number of tournaments using Certified Observers has more than tripled from seven in 2003 to 23 already scheduled for this year.
"As a result, tournaments that were historically 'kill tournaments' are now beginning to alter their formats by switching to 'all release' or by instituting release categories. For example, both the Bahamas and Bermuda leg of the Bermuda Triangle Tournament will be utilizing a release format with IGFA Certified Observers. These are the first tournaments in both countries to utilize Certified Observers. We've used them last year in the Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship in Cabo. Thus, it's evident that more Certified Observers need to be trained nationally and internationally to continue the spread of release format billfish tournaments."
Applications for the COP classes are available at the IGFA web site www.igfa.org/co.asp and at the IGFA headquarters. Pre-registration is required and the $150 fee covers the cost of the training class, course materials and a one-year membership in the IGFA.
For additional information, please contact Ms. Sedge at 954-924-4317 or via email at: MSedge@igfa.org.
Founded in 1939, the IGFA is a not for profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping. IGFA members are located in over 125 countries and territories.
For further information, contact the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way, Dania Beach, Florida 33004; phone 954-927-2628, fax: 954-924-4299, website: www.igfa.org