Veteran Fisheries Conservation and Industry Advocate to Retire in June 2014
After decades of dedicated service to the recreational fishing industry; fisheries resource conservation and management; and advocating on behalf of both, American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Vice President Gordon Robertson has announced his retirement as of June 30, 2014.
Since joining ASA in 2002 as Vice President and lead for Government Affairs, Robertson has been a crucial advocate for fisheries conservation and management, representing the recreational fishing industry with federal and state government agencies and policymakers responsible for resource management.
“It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with Gordon Robertson for the past 12 years,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “His tireless work on behalf of our nation’s fisheries resources, the sport, the industry and this trade association is admired by everyone who knows him. Gordon set a high bar when it came to professional excellence which 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. I consider him not just a colleague, but also a good friend.”
Robertson worked diligently on behalf of the industry and fisheries resources when the Sport Fish Restoration Act was reauthorized in 2005 and 2012. In no small part due to Robertson’s efforts, a recapture of federal fuel taxes led to an increase of more than $100 million to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund following the 2005 reauthorization. The Trust Fund provides most of the funding for fisheries management and habitat conservation in the U.S.
“As a life-long, avid 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 program. I’ve done my best to keep it on track, make improvements and expand its scope, as well as managing to help keep it’s 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 advances and improvements for conservation and management in federal marine fisheries.
In 2010, Robertson lead the development and implementation of the industry’s KeepAmericaFishing™ program as a response to a growing need to engage anglers in advocating for their sport. KeepAmericaFishing is now the largest angler advocacy organization in the nation, representing more than one million anglers. He also oversees the FishAmerica Foundation, ASA’s non-profit conservation arm that provides grants to enhance fish populations and restore fisheries habitat. The FishAmerica Foundation has provided more than $10 million in funding to more than 1,000 conservation projects in all 50 states and Canada.
“There are so many issues that I’ve followed and advocated for over the years,” noted 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.”
However, there is one program which Robertson acknowledges has given him the most satisfaction over the years. For the past 12 years, through ASA’s Everett Hames Policy Fellowship, Robertson has mentored natural resources professionals who are just beginning their careers. These Policy Fellows have worked alongside Robertson in ASA’s Government Affairs department as he mentored them and provided them with many opportunities to interact with a broad spectrum of policymakers. The six Policy Fellows who worked under Robertson are currently working in federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations and his influence is apparent through their own careers.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with such an outstanding group of young professionals who are dedicated to conserving our nation’s natural resources,” said Robertson. “Young people always bring a new perspective to our work and I’ve learned as much from them as they have learned from being a Policy Fellow.”
Gordon began his career in 1971 as a Service Forester in West Virginia, then moved on to work as a Conservation Biologist for New York’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. He spent six years as the Northeast Representative for the Wildlife Management Institute and three years as Legislative Counsel for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Prior to ASA, for 13 years, Robertson served as Deputy Chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Robertson is a native West Virginian, receiving 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. He has held numerous chairmanships and committee positions with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. He is a past co-Chairman of the Program Committee and a member of numerous steering committees for the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. He is also a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
Robertson concluded, “It’s been my privilege and pleasure — not to mention fun and enjoyment— to be part of the ASA family for the past 12 years. My thanks go to the staff and our members for making this a great job.”