20 named to Blue Ribbon Panel for sustainable fishing

By: Parimal M. Rohit

ST. LOUIS – The CEO of a fishing store chain and the former governor of a state home to refuges and national parks announced the roster of a Blue Ribbon Panel for sustainable fishing at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) annual meeting in St. Louis.

Founded and co-chaired by Bass Pro Shops CEO Johnny Morris and former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, the national Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources will feature at least 27 members, 20 of whom were announced Sept. 22 at the AFWA meeting.

The additinal panelists and four ex-officio members will be added to the roster before the panel’s first meeting in 2015.

The mission of the panel is to recommend policy options for funding sustainability models. 

“Dedicated funding allowing for the management of all fish and wildlife, whether game or non-game species, is essential for this nation,” Missouri Department of Conservation Director and panelist Bob Ziehmer said. “Many species are declining in abundance and will continue to do so if we don’t work toward establishing a sustainable funding source for our nation now and into the future.”

According to AFWA, the 20 people announced to the panel’s roster hail from manufacturers, outdoor recreational retail companies, energy, the automotive industry, educational institutions, conservation organizations, fish and wildlife agencies and sportsmen’s groups.

In seeking a model to fund sustainable programs, the Blue Ribbon Panel aims to prevent “new endangered species listings” but still preserve outdoor recreational lifestyles.

“Conservation means balancing the sustainability of fish and wildlife with the many needs of humans for clean air and water; land; food and fiber; dependable energy; economic development and recreation,” Morris said. “By assembling this panel … we will find a way forward that safeguards not only vital natural resources, but also our nation’s economic prosperity and outdoor heritage.”

According to AFWA, funding for the State and Tribal Grants Program, the only federal mechanism to prevent new endangered species listing, was cut by more than 35 percent since 2010 compared to a 1,000 percent increase in petitions for endangered species listings.

More about the panel can be found online at fishwildlife.org/blueribbonpanel.

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