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November 05, 2008

2008 Sportfishing Summit brings fishing industry leaders together

2008 Sportfishing Summit brings fishing industry leaders together
By Asa

Despite the unstable economy and last minute changes to the venue, more than 100 sportfishing industry leaders representing 66 companies and organizations from the United States and Canada gathered October 28 - 30, at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colo., for the American Sportfishing Association's (ASA) 2008 Sportfishing Summit. During the association's annual business meeting, the members focused their efforts on the issues facing the sportfishing industry.

"It's a tough business environment, but that's the perfect time for our industry to pull together and look for opportunities to help ensure our future. As ASA's new Chairman of the Board of Directors, I'm looking forward to leading our association over the next two years," said Jeff Pontius, president, ZEBCO Brands. "Our industry has seen tough times before and I know we're up to the challenge."

A new Executive Committee was also appointed during the Summit. The association's officers, who will serve a two-year term, are: Chairman of the Board Jeff Pontius, president, ZEBCO Brands; Immediate Past Chairman Randy Lemcke, vice president, Plano Molding Co.; Vice Chairman Jeff Marble, CEO, Frabill, Inc.; Secretary Gregg Wollner, executive vice president, Rapala; Treasurer Peter Foley, president, Boone Bait Company; and At-Large Gary Zurn, senior vice president, Big Rock Sports.

"I want to thank our members and guests who took the time out from their busy schedules to attend the 2008 Summit. As we look to 2009 and beyond, it's imperative that our members take an active role in the industry's future," Nussman said. "In fact, we have quite a few members who have been with the association for five years or less who volunteered to serve on one or more of our committees. That bodes very well for our industry."

After several days of meetings and discussions, ASA's Board of Directors approved a number of motions including that ASA take the lead in assembling a coalition of angling and boating organizations to meet the challenge of fishing closures and fishery management issues at a meeting to be held in the near future.

The Board also adopted a formal position on the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Wallop-Breaux) reauthorization which will come before the new 111th Congress. A key point in ASA's position is that language should be included in the reauthorization that reduces a state's apportionment by the percentage of waters closed to recreational fishing for reasons based on other than fisheries science, excluding national security. The fund is the main source of funding for state wildlife and natural resource agencies in the United States and is used for fisheries management and other angling and boating programs. Funds are appropriated to the states based on license sales and water area.

ASA will also strongly support a national reservoir partnership within the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The President's recent Executive Order ensuring that federal agencies must maintain recreational fishing on federal lands and waters, including marine protected areas (MPAs), was also discussed.

On the recommendation of the Show Committee, the Board of Directors also approved several changes related to ICAST and the New Product Showcase. New language regarding copyright and patent infringement and intellectual property theft concerns will be included in the ICAST Exhibitor Service Manual. Beginning in 2009, exhibiting personnel are not permitted in the NPS during the voting period which begins at the Tuesday night New Product Showcase Preview Reception until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday when voting closes. In addition, voting buyers and media are permitted only one ballot per buying entity or media outlet.

"The New Product Showcase generated a lot of discussion this year both at the show and after. The concerns of our exhibitors and attendees were shared with the Show Committee members, who are also buyers, media members and exhibitors," said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. "The changes we are making this year are intended to help ensure an even and fair playing field for everyone involved in the New Product Showcase."

ASA would especially like to thank its Summit sponsors FishAmerica Foundation, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ZEBCO Brands for helping to make this year's membership meeting a great success.

The 2009 Sportfishing Summit is scheduled for October 27 - 29, at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, Calif.