President H.W. Bush was honored Wednesday at his summer home in Maine for his lifetime interest in fishing and in particular the policies he initiated and signed as president to conserve the nation's fisheries.
Bush fished regularly during his presidency, often for bonefish in the Florida Keys in winter and off the Maine coast in summer.
The former president had planned to fish the St. Croix River while in the Twin Cities for the 2008 Republican Convention but had to cancel. He planned to fish with fly-fishing expert and St. Croix River specialist Bob Nasby of St. Paul.
Among leaders of the U.S. sportfishing industry who met with Bush at his Maine home Wednesday was Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris.
Bush turned 90 last week, celebrating by sky diving as he has on previous birthdays.
From an American Sportfishing Association (ASA) press release:
On Wednesday, ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman presented the former president with the inaugural KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of the recreational fishing industry and the nation’s 60 million anglers. The award recognizes Bush’s leadership and lifelong personal commitment to recreational fishing and the conservation of our nation’s fisheries and wetlands. Launched by ASA in 2010, KeepAmericaFishing was established as a way for anglers to get involved in advocating for clean water, abundant fish populations and plenty of places to go fishing. In addition to this award, ASA presented its inaugural Fisherman of the Year award to Bush in 1986.
“During his administration, President Bush, an ardent angler and outdoorsman, was responsible for signing into law some of the most important legislation ever drafted to conserve our nation’s fisheries and their habitat,” said Nussman. “Today, the sportfishing industry and anglers recognized his lifelong commitment to our nation’s natural resources with the first KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement award for his extraordinary efforts to advocate for fisheries conservation and habitat restoration.”
Nussman added, “What most people don’t know is that when Bush was Vice President, he played a key role in assuring the passage of the 1984 amendments to the Sport Fish Restoration Act – an action second only to the original Act’s passage in 1950. When President, Bush came to the Act’s rescue in 1991 making sure that the Office of Management and Budget did not divert any of the Trust Fund’s monies from their intended purpose of supporting sport fisheries conservation and habitat restoration. He played a key role in ensuring recreational fishing future.”
Currently, Congress is revising the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the law that governs our nation’s marine resources. Morris and Scott Deal, president, Maverick Boats, chair the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management which is composed of anglers, scientists, former agency administrators, conservationists, industry representatives and economists, who are seeking to ensure that saltwater recreational fishing becomes a priority of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
During the meeting, Morris announced that Bass Pro Shops was presenting a $125,000 gift in President Bush’s name to the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) for its Hispanic angling and boating participation campaign called “Vamos a Pescar.” Over the past 18 months, RBFF has been working on developing the campaign website and marketing materials since its Board of Directors approved a five-year plan in 2013 to engage the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population in fishing and boating.
During his time in office, Bush established 56 new wildlife refuges; restored three million acres of wetlands; protected 17.8 million acres of public lands, including national parks, wildlife areas and refuges; and signed the Clean Air Act reauthorization requiring cleaner burning fuels.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust were also in attendance to pay tribute to Bush’s conservation legacy.