Conservation in the sportfishing industry is akin to the Marine Corps – it is comprised of “a few good men” doing the work for tens of thousands of anglers. Of course there are lots of other organizations taking leadership in sportfishing and aquatic resource conservation as well, with Trout Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association being prime examples. But, from a pure, for-profit industry standpoint, when you look at it, it is just amazing what these industry guys do, and the commitment of their companies to have them doing it!
Of course, you have Chris Horton at BASS. Then there is Jim Martin at Purefishing’s Berkley Conservation Institute. There’s Phil Morelock at Shimano. Norm Stucky is Bass Pro Shops’ Conservation Director. And, I guess in Marine Corps terms, the “General” over all of this, at least in my opinion, is Gordon Robertson, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) in Washington, DC. ASA is the industry trade association, and Gordon is the guy who keeps his finger on the political and legislative pulse, making our interests known on Capitol Hill, and overseeing the activities of ASA’s Freshwater and Saltwater Government Affairs committees. Oh, I might have missed a few guys, but these gentlemen are the most prominent and active of the industry group – literally a handful of folks whose single focus is fisheries conservation and management, and angler rights.
Recently I spoke with Chris Horton about the priorities he plans to focus on in the near term, representing BASS members and anglers in general in the conservation arena. I was very pleased to learn that he will continue to fight the battle on the navigable waters issues in Louisiana and the suite of other angler access issues.
And it appears that there is finally a light at the end of another tunnel. When Chris took over my seat on the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) Board, I was almost a single voice crying in the wilderness, so to speak, trying to get the NFHAP Board to consider creating a Reservoir Partnership. After all, nearly 70% of fishing in the US occurs on lakes and reservoirs, many of which are aging, declining habitats. Well, Chris never let that voice go silent (he always was louder than me). His recent article in BASS Times heralds the formation of a national reservoir partnership awaiting NFHAP Board recognition. Persistence pays off, especially for bass anglers this time. Congratulations, Chris!
And Jim Martin at Purefishing never lets any grass grow under his feet. He’s created a very impressive agenda for himself there at the Berkley Conservation Institute. Just a few highlights from his agenda for 2008/2009 include helping develop a realistic strategy to restore Pacific Salmon, working to ensure that wetlands and fishable waters are cleaned up to meet the fishable and swimable standard of the Clean Water Act of 1973, helping to create a compromise regarding establishing of Marine Reserves (no-fishing ocean zones), and like BASS, supporting the “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” program to help slow the spread of invasive aquatic species.
As a group, these “few good men” are helping to ensure the future of fishing through their efforts. Like Chris and Jim, almost all are actively involved in angler recruitment and retention, and ensuring angler access. And all are involved as partners with many conservation organizations to make your voices heard as they advance conservation policy advocacy and address emerging issues throughout the year.
A few GOOD men, indeed.