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James Franks

SOST receives $5,000 donation toward big game fish research

University of Southern Mississippi Senior Research Scientist Jim Franks was recently presented a $5,000 donation from Release Marine, Inc.to help further the pelagic fish research being done in the University’s School of Ocean Science and Technology (SOST). The donation was made at this year’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic fishing rodeo on June 8.

“We believe in giving back to this sport we all love so much,” said Ryan McKenzie with Release Marine. “Without big-game fish and without the scientific data to properly manage stocks, none of this is possible.”

Headquartered in Savannah, Ga., Release Marine, Inc. is a preferred manufacturer of high-tech fighting chairs, helm chairs and an array of marine accessories for big game fishing. Release Marine has been a sponsor of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic for 19 years.

“We align ourselves with premier events, which is why we’ve been a proud platinum sponsor of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic for 20 years,” said McKenzie. “We love coming to the Gulf Coast and enjoying true Southern hospitality.”

Franks, a senior research scientist for the Center for Fisheries Research and Development within SOST, said he met the owners of Release Marine more than two decades ago through the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and is humbled by their continued support.

“Their donations and moral support over the past 20 years have enabled fisheries and graduate students to conduct important and timely biological studies of blue marlin, tuna, wahoo and swordfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Franks. “We deeply value their friendship and appreciate their support of research, conservation and wise management of big game fishes in the Gulf.”

Franks and the pelagic research team at SOST’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, located in Ocean Springs, Miss., study the life history and ecology of coastal and highly migratory pelagic fishes in the Gulf of Mexico. Their research is highly valuable to sport fishermen around the world.

“Fishermen get to enjoy the fun side of all this, but researchers are the ones doing the heavy lifting, sampling marlin, tuna, wahoo and, now, swordfish,” said McKenzie. “At Release Marine we know a donation toward SOST is an investment well-spent.”