I Sanhalom Laguna Anglers Association president Joe Torres said that the youth are “always welcome” to the fishing derby held every year within the waters inside the Saipan lagoon.
This year’s 4th Annual Mafuti Derby had a good number of children join their families out on the 46 boats within the lagoon, and with the event held close to shore, it promotes a safe and fun activity and competition.
Torres said that “we always promote youth programs, so our members 12 years old and below are free of charge to join the event.” He encourages more children to join the derby and to learn more about “sustainable fishing—just for fun… We’re on an island and we’re surrounded by the ocean so definitely we want our kids to learn this stuff.”
“The guys on their boats always bring their young kids… and they’re always teaching [them] how to fish… It’s an event that’s in the lagoon so a lot of fishermen bring their kids because it’s safe—we don’t have to go far out. [There’s] no registration cost too for children under 12, so it’s easier to bring the kids out… we also issue out lifejackets to boats that have children just to promote safe boating,” said Torres.
The youth this year was in fact highlighted, as the overall winner for the derby was 8-year-old fisherman, Reyong John Moses Rasiang, who caught a 5.2-lb mafuti which was the heaviest catch of the derby.
Taught fishing at the young age of 3 by his grandpa, R.J. has joined the derby every year since its inception in 2018 at just 4 years old, and has always been second place to three-time Mafuti Derby winner Ed Diaz, but this year was the youth’s time to shine.
Rasiang’s grandfather, George Moses, the captain of their team, said that along with his grandson, he knows a lot of other young fishermen. He encourages the youth to get out there as the “playing field out there is so big.”
To parents and grandparents, he encourages them to take their “son, grandson, or grand daughters or daughters out to go fishing and show them the playing field” which is the ocean.
Moses then thanked ISLA, saying that the derby is a “good community program and you can take children out.”
Torres then said that “we always want to thank our sponsors- our sponsors that support us every year. This is our fourth year but all sponsors, we want to thank them. We want to thank all the fishermen that came out to join the event. And also especially thank you to the committee that organized all this stuff… We’re going to try and grow the event next year again and hopefully have more youth involvement.”
The sponsors of the derby are Tan Siu Lin Foundation, the Office of the Lt. Governor, Senate Floor Leader Vinnie F. Sablan, House Minority Leader Angel Demapan, Speaker Ed Villagomez, Environmental Services, SP Dancoe & Associates, TurnKey Solutions, Bridge Capital, Island Image & Motion, Marianas Geotech, Fresh Factory, Fishing Tackle, Marianas Variety, Docomo Pacific, Saipan Surf Company, Saipan Shipping, Micronesian Marine, Roil Soil Company, Landmarks Realty, Joeten Superstore, Joeten Motors, Ginen Marianas, Atkins Kroll Toyota, NAPA Trucks & Auto, PAC Auto, True Value/YCO, WSTCO Saipan, Swim For Life, Kets Kitchen, Poki Yaki, Galaxy Ent., Bistro Boys, Tyler’s Gelato, Caravan of Food, Inas Kitchen, Get Fit CNMI, J’s Restaurant, Herman’s Bakery, KKMP, and Kumoi Farms.
ISLA was established in 2018 by a group of anglers that treat fishing as a way of life. The Mafuti Derby is restricted to the waters inside the Saipan lagoon and participating boats can’t exceed 17 feet in length.