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Tributes for outgoing ASA President Mike Nussman

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Tributes were paid to Mike Nussman by senators and colleagues alike at a dinner in Washington DC following his retirement from the ASA last week.

Recognition in the Congressional Record and a letter from the US Senator who helped start his career were among the glowing tributes paid to American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President and CEO, Mike Nussman, on his retirement last week.

In comments to the Senate, Ben Cardin, of Maryland, said that much of the progress made in recreational fishing has been due to the leadership of Nussman.

“While the ASA has been a trade association since 1933, it has really been in the past 25 years – a period that coincides with his tenure – that the organisation has assumed more of a leadership role in the angling community,” he said.

“Mr. Nussman’s tenure has also improved the organisation’s business operations. The sportfishing industry’s annual trade show is now the largest in the world.

“His leadership has made the ASA financially strong, helping it weather economic downturns. Anglers and sportfishing related businesses can be thankful he has been at the helm.”

Nussman joined the ASA in 1992 and was appointed President and CEO in 2001.

In comments to the House of Representatives, Robert J. Wittman, of Virginia, pointed to the fact that through special excise taxes and fishing licence sales, anglers and boaters now provide more than $1.2 billion annually towards state fish and wildlife agency programmes.

“Much of this is due to the leadership of Mike Nussman,” he said. “He also led the effort to establish the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) to turn around a decline in recreational fishing which started to appear in the 1990s.”

When Nussman joined the ASA in 1992 he brought special expertise from his time as a former Senate staffer to the recreational fishing industry and conservation communities.

He had worked for the Senate Commerce Committee and then-Chairman, Fritz Hollings, of South Carolina, as the lead member for the sub-committee overseeing fisheries policy, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.

Senator Hollings, now 96, sent a letter to last week’s gathering called to honour Nussman. “I remember after the 1992 election when you told us you were leaving the Senate Commerce Committee to join the sportfishing industry,” he wrote. “It’s usually hard to believe that anyone would leave the Committee, but when we heard it was for fishing – it made more sense.

“From everything I’ve heard, you proved to be not only great at Government Affairs, but also at management and leadership of your association. It is clear you have done a superb job building your sport and industry.”

President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Thom Dammrich, recalled that the ASA was a different organisation when Nussman took the reins. “ICAST was struggling. Finances were ‘iffy’. Mike accepted a big challenge. But he had a passion and today the show is going from strength to strength.

“And the ASA is a highly effective and respected body. He built a great staff. He built bridges to other organisations. He built lasting relationships.

“Keep America Fishing was his idea. The Morris Deal Commission was his idea. And the latter was a game changer, as today we sit on the cusp of passing the Modern Fish Act, which will revolutionise the management of saltwater recreational fisheries.”

Attending the dinner in Washington DC to mark the occasion were Nussman’s wife, Dr Margaret Palmer, and their two sons, Will and Henry. His successor at the ASA, Glenn Hughes, was master of ceremonies.

Other speakers included Kirk Immens, ASA Board of Directors Chairman; Jeff Pontius, Zebco Brands; Peter Foley, Boone Bait; Bill Shedd, AFTCO; Ken Hammond, The Hammond Group; Chip Powell, Mason Tackle; and Phil Morlock, Shimano American Association.

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