November 15, 2016
Billfish Foundation presents prestigious award to Ernie Foster
Billfish Foundation (TBF), the world’s leading sportfishing
conservation organization for marlin, sailfish, spearfish and
associated highly migratory fish, presented its most prestigious award,
the John Rybovich Lifetime Achievement Award, during its 30th
anniversary gala on Nov. 4, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The
2016 winners are Captain Ernie Foster of Hatteras, Captain Kelvin “Red”
Bailey, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Bonnie Powell, Brandon, Fla.
The award is named in honor of the late John Rybovich, a pioneer in billfish conservation and sportfishing vessel design.
Ernie Foster of Hatteras, North Carolina, grew up on boats fishing in
the family’s charter business, the Albatross Fleet. His father,
Captain Ernal Foster, one might say launched charter fishing in the
region in 1937 when he began charging to take anglers fishing; others
laughed. In the early 1950s when his boat landed a 451-pound blue
marlin, Dare County’s first public relations specialist was present and
took photos. When those photos spread worldwide, Hatteras was on the
map as a hot spot for offshore fishing.
in the decade, Foster's brother had a couple on board who reeled in a
giant blue marlin and once it reached the boat, requested the fish be
released, which he did. This news generated the term
“catch-and-release” fishing. Today, Foster runs the Albatross
III, while managing the Albatross Fleet and its 250 charters a
witnessed significant changes in fishing, in government regulations and
changes in the abundance of many fish species, Foster finds it
necessary to take an active role with fisheries management issues. And,
it is when some of those situations pit commercial fishing and
recreational fishing interests against one another, that he most likely
finds his experiences as a teacher and counselor the most useful.
Foster views his community of Hatteras as a “fishing community” first,
for each person there depends on fishing either directly or indirectly
-- a way of life Foster continues.
of the TBF Board members, Captain Fin Gaddy of Manteo, was on hand for
Ernie to accept his lifetime achievement award and be part of the
festivities. Gaddy nominated Foster for this award.
Back in 2007, Captain Ernie Foster and another Hatteras captain, Rom
Whitaker, launched the North Carolina Watermen United organization to
help protect the rights of both commercial and recreational fishermen
in North Carolina. The organization has grown and expanded
through the last 9 years to be a force for fishing rights throughout
coastal North Carolina.
addition, Foster launched the North Carolina Watermen Foundation in
2014 to help educate people on the importance of the fishing industry
in the state and the importance of having access to fresh, North
Carolina seafood throughout our state. His non-profit helps to
provide programming at Hatteras Island’s yearly Day at the Docks event