2016 Sportfishing Summit Brings Recreational Fishing Industry Leaders Together

Alexandria, VA – The American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) 2016 Sportfishing Summit, the sportfishing industry’s premier networking and business management event, was held October 4-7, in New Orleans, La. This annual fall business meeting brought together more than 220 fishing and boating industry and community leaders to provide a venue to discuss the issues impacting recreational fishing during committee meetings, networking events, general sessions and the association’s board of directors and committee meetings.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), welcomed the association’s industry leaders and guests to the opening breakfast. In his introductory remarks, ASA’s board of directors Chairman, Kirk Immens, president, Sportco Marketing, Inc., said that Graves is one of the most outstanding advocates for recreational fishing and anglers in the U.S. Congress today.

Last year, Graves helped push through the Highway Bill which ensures that the funds supporting recreational fishing, conservation, boating safety and wetlands habitat restoration are available. In the House of Representatives, Graves serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, both important to the sportfishing industry.

The 2016 Sportfishing Summit program agenda focused heavily on angler participation and how to increase the number of people fishing and boating.

Current participation trends show younger, more diverse audiences are reluctant to take up fishing and boating, all the while older white males are aging out of the sport. Decreased fishing and boating participation will have an impact on our nation’s economy, conservation efforts and the fishing and boating industries.

To address this challenge head-on, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), with industry’s support, has launched an effort to reach 60 million anglers in 60 months (2020). This initiative, coined “60 in 60” by RBFF, provides an aspirational goal that should work to inspire others in the industry to do their part to help realize this goal.

Much of this will start with the current effort to define, develop and lead the community in implementing standardized Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (R3) efforts.

“Despite public access and water quality issues, anglers continue to fish and spend time outdoors,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “A growing interest in the outdoors is helping to fuel angler participation which bodes well for our industry.

Executive Committee Appointments
During the meeting, ASA’s board of directors appointed the Executive Committee members: Chairman – Kirk Immens, president, Sportco Marketing, Inc.; Vice Chairman – Chris Megan, publisher/owner, On the Water, LLC; Secretary – Zack Swanson, vice president, Sales, Rapala; Treasurer – Donn Schaible, president, Wright & McGill Co.; Treasurer Emeritus – Peter Foley, president, Boone Bait Company, Inc.; At-Large – Gary Remensnyder, president, Lew’s Fishing Tackle; and Immediate Past Chairman – Dave Bulthuis, vice president of Sales, Costa. Ex officio members are: Kenneth Hammond, CEO, The Hammond Group; Ken Eubanks, senior vice president and general manager of North America, Pure Fishing, Inc.; and Carey Graves, vice president of Sales, Daiwa Corporation.

The Association Recognizes Congressional and Industry and Conservation Leaders
During the Summit, ASA recognized several individuals who have given generously of their time and company resources in support of the industry and fisheries conservation.

Lifetime Achievement Award

ASA’s most prestigious award was presented to life-long fisheries management and conservation leader, Jim Martin, of Oregon. Martin was recognized for his extraordinary leadership and lifelong commitment to ensuring the health of our nation’s fisheries and finding new and better ways to enhance habitat conservation. Martin retired as Fish Chief for Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife before becoming Director of Pure Fishing’s Berkley Conservation Institute, from which he is now retired.

Future of Fishing Award

ASA’s Future of Fishing Award was presented to Nick Wiley, executive director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for his commitment to conservation and fisheries management, helping to ensure recreational fishing’s future. Although there are challenges, Florida is the number one fishing state in the U.S.

Congressional Champion Award

This year, ASA presented its Congressional Champion Award to Rep. Garret Graves, Louisiana’s 6th District, in recognition of his commitment to fisheries conservation and recreational fishing’s future. Graves is an outstanding advocate for recreational fishing in the U.S. Congress.