So inundated with protests over the possible participation of Michael Wenzel and Robert Lee "Bo" Benac in their popular fishing tournament, the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association (MSBIA) has posted an assurance to the community on the tourney website that the accused marine-life abusers won't be fishing in the Sarasota Slam.
The two Manatee County men, said to have posted on social media the video of themselves dragging a live shark behind a speedboat, have been banned from the annual event, which began at Sarasota's Marina Jack on Tuesday and continues through Saturday.
This is the full text of MSBIA's statement:
"We, the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association (MSBIA) and our fishing tournament Sarasota Slam, has been implicated by association with a now-infamous video of 3 young men dragging a shark by boat.
"The video tape footage revealed one of the men in the video was wearing one of our fishing shirts. They are not a member of the MSBIA. We are making this statement because our association has been under attack via social media, emails and phone calls from the public and from media outlets, both local and beyond.
"We want the public to know that the MSBIA does not stand for, nor condones, this type of behavior and has been swift in its actions in banning these young men from participating in the Sarasota Slam. We are providing information to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and cooperating with their investigation. We will not be providing any names, or any other information, except to the appropriate authorities.
"We take pride that our tournament is safe and family-friendly, donates a portion of proceeds to charity, and follows all NOAA and Billfish Foundation rules and regulations. We expect all anglers in the tournament to also comply with FWC Commission rules and regulations."
"This is good to hear," commercial fisherman Billy Chaffin told Sunshine State News on Wednesday. "A lot of us heard these clowns were signed up to fish in the tournament. We were ready to go over there and carry signs."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith