The Center for Sportfishing Policy announced its new chairman of the board of directors, Robert G. “Bob” Hayes. Hayes was elected to the leadership role at the center’s annual board of directors meeting on Tuesday, May 16, and succeeds Jack Lawton, Jr., founding chairman of the center.
“The Center for Sportfishing Policy is fortunate to have such monumental leaders in the sportfishing community involved with the organization,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “As we welcome Bob Hayes as our new chairman and celebrate his achievements in marine conservation, we thank Jack Lawton, Jr. for his hard work and dedication in making the center the success it is today.”
“Jack Lawton and Bob Hayes were two of the first to see the value in creating the Center for Sportfishing Policy as a way to organize recreational fishing stakeholders and influence the politics of fish,” said Angers. “A huge ‘thank you’ goes to Jack for leading the center for the past 11 years. It is because of his leadership America’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have an effective voice on Capitol Hill today.”
Lawton is president and chief executive officer of Jack Lawton Companies headquartered in Lake Charles, La. An avid outdoorsman and leader in nonprofit organizations, Lawton has been involved as a member and/or officer in several conservation organizations, including Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, Center for Sportfishing Policy and Delta Waterfowl. He is a founding member of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association of Louisiana — the predecessor to CCA Louisiana. During Lawton’s 25 years as chairman of CCA Louisiana, the organization expanded into an influential force that protected redfish with gamefish status; established a ban on gill nets, and initiated countless habitat and coastal restoration projects. He received the prestigious Future of Fishing Award from the American Sportfishing Association in 2011 and the Walter W. Fondren III Conservation Leadership Award from CCA for his work nurturing and growing recreational fishing over decades.
Hayes brings to the center his experiences from an over 30-year career of advocating for saltwater recreational fishermen nationally and internationally. He has played a key role in the most significant marine conservation victories in that time – including net bans, the recovery of the red drum and billfish conservation. Hayes served as an attorney for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and he also served two terms as the U.S. Recreational Fisheries Commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Along with the Center, he has been affiliated with ASA and CCA for many decades. Hayes received the Walter Fondren and Norville Prosser awards for his work in conservation and was selected as the Conservationist of the Year in 2006 by Outdoor Life.
“Bob Hayes is one of the most consequential advocates in marine conservation today, and I am positive he will continue to guide the Center for Sportfishing Policy in the right direction,” said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association and member of the Center for Sportfishing Policy board of directors. “For nearly four decades, Jack Lawton has been a champion for marine conservation from coast to coast, and we thank him for his dedication to building the Center for Sportfishing Policy into such a strong voice for anglers in Washington.”
“I am confident that the Center for Sportfishing Policy will continue to have strong presence on Capitol Hill under the visionary leadership of Bob Hayes,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and member of the Center for Sportfishing Policy board of directors. “Bob and his predecessor, Jack Lawton, have been involved in so many of the major strides taken by the recreational fishing community over the years.”