“Many companies look at their conservation efforts as just marketing or public relations activities,” says AFTCO Chairman Bill Shedd in the Angling International Green Issue. But AFTCO goes further. Much further.
AFTCO’s efforts and successes on behalf of the fishing industry are numerous:
• The company’s 10% pledge to ‘protect and conserve’ means that every AFTCO purchase supports conservation.
• Some 20 years ago, AFTCO was successful in preventing harmful longliners from practicing their trade in California.
• It also led the campaign to have set gill nets removed from state waters.
• It helped pass legislation to ban drift gill nets by 2023.
• The company was instrumental in establishing the Coastal Conservation Association in California.
• It has donated more than $200,000 to the campaign to prevent recreational fishery closures.
• And fought tirelessly against the removal of important marine habitat like decommissioned offshore oil structures.
It’s hard to argue with the claim that no fishing tackle and clothing company has done more for the ocean and its resources than AFTCO. Shedd himself typifies the AFTCO culture of giving back. For 30 consecutive years he has volunteered over 500 hours a year to charitable causes and the recreational fishing industry. His fishery conservation efforts have been recognised with the ASA’s highest accolade, its Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the IGFA Conservation Award.
Today Shedd believes the legacy of leadership in conservation established by AFTCO and others is beginning to gain traction in the wider tackle industry. “While that was not the case 40 years ago, the trade and broader angling community are providing a great deal of support for conservation,” he says. “The anglers and the industry are the true conservationists, not the environmentalists. In the US we contribute over $1 billion a year towards fishery conservation via taxes, licence fees and other sources. The industry now realises that if we don’t have healthy fish populations and access to fish, we will not no business.”