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Gordon Robertson to retire from ASA

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Gordon Robertson: Set to retire from the ASA at the end of June.

One of the best-known figures in recreational fishing, Gordon Robertson, is to retire.

As head of the American Sportfishing Association’s Government Affairs Department for 12 years, Robertson has played a prominent role in representing the industry on pivotal pieces of legislation, including the Sport Fish Restoration Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

A relentless advocate for fisheries conservation and management, he has worked closely with federal and state government agencies and policymakers responsible for crucial resource management in the US.

ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman described his work as ‘unparalleled’.

“Gordon’s tireless efforts on behalf of our nation’s fisheries resources, the sport, the industry and this trade association is admired by everyone who knows him,” added Nussman. “Gordon set a high bar when it came to professional excellence and this had a significant influence on everyone with whom he worked. His ability to work with Congress and federal and state agencies on complex resource issues is unparalleled.”

Robertson worked diligently on behalf of the industry and fisheries resources when the Sport Fish Restoration Act was re-authorised in 2005 and 2012. In 2005, he played a key role in the recapture of federal fuel taxes, resulting in an increase of more than $100 million to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. The Fund largely finances fisheries management and habitat conservation is the US.

“As a lifelong angler, I’ve made it my life’s work to help ensure that we have clean water, healthy fisheries and access to both,” said Robertson. “The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, better known as Wallop-Breaux, is the backbone of our nation’s fisheries programme. I’ve done my best to keep it on track, make improvements and expand its scope, as well as managing to help keep its support bipartisan, which has served anglers and the industry well.”

Robertson also represented recreational fishing’s interests during a major overhaul of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act in 2006, which has helped bring about significant improvements in federal marine fisheries.

In 2010, Robertson lead the development and implementation of the industry’s KeepAmericaFishing programme, a response to a growing need to engage anglers in advocating for their sport. KeepAmericaFishing now represents more than one million anglers.

He also oversees the FishAmerica Foundation, the ASA’s non-profit conservation arm that provides grants to enhance fish populations and restore fisheries habitats. The FishAmerica Foundation has provided more than $10 million in funding to more than 1,000 conservation projects in all 50 US states and Canada.

“There are so many issues that I’ve followed and advocated for over the years,” explained Robertson. “Working with the Forest Service to improve fishing on federal lands is one. Working to plan and draft the Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which will have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of our nation’s fisheries, is another.”

Among the many programmes that he has been involved with, Robertson confesses that the ASA’s Everett Hames Policy Fellowship has given him most satisfaction. His role was to mentor Policy Fellows in the Association’s Government Affairs department, providing opportunities for them to work with a broad spectrum of policy makers.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with such an outstanding group of young professionals dedicated to conserving our natural resources,” he reflected. “Young people always bring a new perspective to our work and I’ve learned much from them.”

Gordon began his career in 1971 as a service forester in West Virginia before moving moved on to work as a Conservation Biologist for New York’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. He spent six years as the north-east representative for the Wildlife Management Institute and three years as Legislative Counsel for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Prior to joining the ASA, he served as Deputy Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. A native West Virginian, he received his BS and MS degrees from West Virginia University.

Robertson serves on the National Fish Habitat Partnership Board and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Policy Council. He has previously served as a board member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. His retirement takes effect from June 30th, 2014.

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