The 21st Annual Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association Kingfish Tournament is set to go this Saturday, Aug. 26, from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. CT. This is a one-day tournament that has become the largest fundraiser for the MBARA, which specializes in building marine habitat off of Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.

Folks can register on line at the group’s website at www.mbara.org or register on Friday evening from 5-7 p.m. ET at Veterans Memorial Park in Beacon Hill where the Captains’ Meeting will be held.

Folks can also register at Bluewater Outrigger and Half Hitch Tackle in Port St. Joe, or at Mexico Beach Marina.

The cost of the tournament is $175 per boat.

The weigh-in will be 1-5 p.m. CT Saturday afternoon at the Mexico Beach Marina and is open to the public.

There is a Professional/Masters Division and a Recreational/Amateur Division.

Complete information can be found on the group’s website.

The MBARA, in its continued efforts to promote and enhance the ecotourism for Mexico Beach, has been a great attraction to the marine life and to tourism in general for Mexico Beach.

“The Kingfish Tournament is the longest-standing event in Mexico Beach and continues to bring in new and repeat anglers year after year,” said Community Development Council director Kimberly Shoaf. “This event draws spectators and fishermen from all over the southeast and beyond.

“The tournament continually allows the MBARA to surpass (its) deployment and research goals and Mexico Beach would not be the great fishing destination it is without those who volunteer and participate in this tournament.”

Since 1997 the MBARA has deployed more than 200 artificial reefs off the coast of Mexico Beach ensuring the creation and sustaining of habitats for wildlife such and fish and sea turtles and creating myriad opportunities for eco-tourism.

The goal of the organization is to educate the public on the benefits of reef systems for marine life while creating a bountiful sport fishing location for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

Not only one of the biggest fishing tournaments along the Forgotten Coast, the Kingfish Tournament serves as the MBARA’s largest fundraiser of the year, having raised more than $1 million over the past 20 years. Monies become matching funds for artificial reef grants, and well as to support reef building, research and public education.

According to MBARA president Bob Cox, 96-97 cents of every dollar raised goes to building reefs, a ratio the organization has worked hard to reach.

“Not many charities can claim such a low overhead,” Cox said. “We have a group of volunteers that are hard-charging and devote a lot of time and effort without direct compensation. The reward is the enjoyment that comes out of the marine reef habitat they help create for our communities.”