Fishing competition will return

By Lindy Laird

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There could be some fish hooks in the way prizes are allocated in future but the organisers of the southern hemisphere's biggest snapper contest say it will definitely be held again next year.

The assurance comes on top of another "extremely successful" Beach and Boat Ruakaka event held on Friday and Saturday, and refutes claims in other media that red tape has killed future contests.

Beach and Boat Ruakaka carried a total prize pool of $320,000 across several categories, but the prize that could rock the boat was the $100,000 spot prize for the person who caught a snapper the organisers had tagged and released before the competition.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) last year told organisers of big competitions that offering spot prizes based on luck rather than skill breached gambling laws.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain has since said he has no desire to "close anyone down" and the department was considering taking spot prizes out of the legislation.

At present spot prizes capped at $5000, offered by non-commercial organisations, are exempt.

Beach and Boat Ruakaka managers Raising the Bar Promotions refused to talk about the matter and would only confirm yesterday that, because of its success again this year, the competition will definitely feature on next summer's calendar.

A spokesperson said there were "details" to sort out, and would not comment on the crowd- and family-pleasing lucrative spot prize for the tagged snapper.

Beach and Boat organiser Tony Wheeler said last year that he was frustrated at the Department of Internal Affairs' hard line.

The event's prize pool had been reshuffled to allow participants to sign up to sponsors' databases to go into the draw.

That was not considered gambling because there was no cost to enter, he said.

- Northern Advocate

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