Popular tournament sets the standard in the Gulf of Mexico for eligible marlin


The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic has increased the minimum length requirement for qualifying blue marlin in the event to 107 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. The previous requirement was 100 inches, making this new increase a significant statement for billfish conservation.

“The blue marlin caught off the Mississippi coast are huge, really huge,” says MGCBC tournament coordinator Bert Merritt. “So at our January board meeting, there were three main factors involved in the committee’s decision to raise the minimum length: an analysis of our historical tournament data, discussions with several of our highly respected teams and a passionate statement from our resident marine biologist and fellow board member Jim Franks. These factors combined to ignite the discussion that led us to the unanimous decision for the length increase to 107 inches. We feel certain this decision will be well-received in the billfish community as it's obvious intent is to enhance the conservation efforts.”

The MGCBC is one of the top events on the Gulf Coast billfish tournament circuit, attracting teams from throughout the region.

Throughout its history, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic has placed a major emphasis on conservation and scientific data. Franks and his fellow researchers from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory of the University of Southern Mississippi, together with teams of graduate students, have used tournament-weighed marlin as well as other pelagic species like tuna, wahoo and mahimahi to collect samples for age, growth and reproductive studies along with population dynamics and sustainability.

One reason for the tournament's popularity is the event's host location at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The numerous oil and natural gas production rigs that dot the Gulf of Mexico serve as giant vertical artificial reefs, attracting and holding baitfish (and blue marlin).