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Shawna Meisner, the director of the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic offshore sports fishing tournament in the Gulf of Mexico, had been one of the last holdouts. But on Thursday — five days before the tournament’s start — the spreading BP oil spill left her little choice.
Meisner canceled the event, a team fishing competition in Destin, Fla. It is ranked by Marlin magazine as having the gulf’s richest purse, reaching a peak of $1.5 million in 2008.
In the wake of the oil spill, many of the top fishing events in the gulf have been postponed or canceled. Those in recreational fishing regard the sport as a key part of the region’s economy. Industry-financed studies estimate that the annual number of day trips on boats to fish in the gulf is 23.5 million, in addition to millions fishing from the shoreline.