The International Game Fish Tournament Observers organization was founded in 2009 by three experienced fishermen and businessmen - Bob Malerba, John Treat and Terry O'Neill - who felt passionately about providing highly trained - and insured - observers to witness the safe catch and release of billfish and game fish in tournaments throughout the world.
Approximately eight years ago the International Game Fish Association with the support of the National Marine Fisheries Service adopted the Certified Observer Program which trained experienced captains, anglers and crews to become official Observers aboard tournament boats.
This program reduced and prevented rule disputes and infractions and changed the direction of tournaments from killing billfish to one that releases the billfish to preserve the species.
But until the creation of the IGFTO, observers did not carry liability insurance and posed a potential liability risk for tournament directors and boat owners participating in these events.
Since the formation of the non-profit IGFTO organization two years ago, its "insured" observers have witnessed the safe release of more than 17,000 game fish while participating in tournaments throughout North America, the Caribbean, US Virgin Islands and South America.
Sept. 10, 2012
IGFTO Receives 501(c)3 Tax-Exempt Status from IRS
International Game Fish Tournament Observers Designated a Tax Exempt Public Charity
On September 10, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service approved the application by International Game Fish Tournament Observers for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, effective Sept. 9, 2009.
The IRS approval creates significant opportunities for the IGFTO to raise funds through tax deductible donations, contributions, bequests or gifts by individuals, corporations, foundations and any other profit or not for profit organizations.
It will enable the IGFTO to develop educational programs and presentations encouraging the conservation of game fish and the protection of game fish and the benefits of conservation and preservation of game fish through catch and release venues.
The educational component would eventually include presentations to various tournament officials, fishing clubs, and other groups related to the fishing and boating industry.
In addition the International Game Fish Tournament Observer organization will have the opportunity to assist and financially support other non-profit organizations who advocate release venues and generate funding sources for their causes.
And finally, the good news is the Internal Revenue Service approval will help fund the expansion of our organization to the next level of our development and growth into a viable force that can champion the conservation and protection of game fish.
The Internal Revenue Service Authorization, dated Sept. 10, 2012, states:
“We are pleased to inform you that upon review of you application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax un-der section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are deductible under section 170 of the Code. You are also eligible to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code….Organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code are further classified as either public charities or private foundations. We determined that you are a public charity under the Code section(s) listed in the heading of this letter.”
Public Charity Status: 170(b)(1)(A)(vi).
In memory of IGFTO founder Bob Malerba
Bob Malerba, a highly trained observer and co-founder of IGFTO, passed away May 31, 2011 after battling esophagus cancer. Bob participated as an observer in more than 75 international billfish tournaments. He was honored in memoriam at the Virgin Islands Game Fish Club's July 2011 Open Billfish Tournament in St. Thomas, USVI. Bob served as an observer at this tournament for many years.
The IGFTO made a $600 memorial contribution in Bob's memory to The Billfish Foundation's youth education program to perpeuate his great enthusiasm and passion for the sport of fishing.
The Billfish Foundation works worldwide to advance the conservation of billfish and associated species to improve the health of oceans and economies.
Bob was born in Meridan, CT and attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he earned a bachelor degree in economics. He served for 11 years in the Air Force as an instructor pilot in the KC-135A Strato-Tanker, air-fueling other aircraft. He served on three separate occasions in Vietnam and flew more than 125 missions in Southeast Asia.
Bob joined the IGFA Certified Observer Program in 2003, passing the exam at Ocean City, MD. Boating and fishing were a big part of his recreational life. He owned and operated boats from 22 feet to 48 feet for more than 20 years. He spent most of those years fishing the Atlantic out of Montauk Point, NY before selling his boat in 2003. Not wanting to give up his passion for fishing, he became a certified observer and served as Observer Coordinator for many of the more than 30 tournaments he worked in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Coast Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.