Leaders of Conservation: International Game Fish Association President Rob Kramer
Daniel Xu Daniel Xu / May 29, 2014
This interview with the International Game Fish Association’s President Rob Kramer is part of OutdoorHub’s Leaders of Conservation series, in which we sit down with leaders of the North American conservation movement to learn more about the stories behind their organizations and people.[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ew fishing organizations are as venerable and well-respected as the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Currently headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida, the organization is most well-known for keeping records of the largest and most impressive angler-caught fish in the world. However, IGFA President Rob Kramer says record-keeping is only a small part of the association’s activities.
“The IGFA’s mission, as stated, is to be a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making, and record keeping,” Rob told me.
Above all, IGFA exists to ensure that the next generation of anglers will have the same opportunities their parents and grandparents did. The association actually started out with a very simple idea—that there should be one unified code of fishing ethics for all anglers. Before IGFA’s founding in 1939, sporting ethics varied from individual to individual and from club to club.
“There was a need, just like any other sport, to lay down some rules,” Rob said. “Game fishing and big game fishing predated the IGFA with the likes of Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway—who later became vice president of IGFA. For some time in the late 1930s, the idea of a worldwide association of anglers had been brewing among fishermen in Europe, Australia, and the United States.
“There were efforts to establish a headquarters in England, but of course our friends in England didn’t always get along with our friends in Australia, so they decided to turn to the United States. A very accomplished angler and explorer at that time was a fellow by the name of Michael Lerner, and he was selected to be the one to pull things together.”
Along with famed Australian angler Clive Firth, Lerner contacted fishing clubs, industry notables, and renowned anglers and shared with them the idea of forming an international association of fishing clubs. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of setting up headquarters in the United States, but the anglers still needed a place to call home.
“It was around that time that the American Museum of Natural History heard about this and an offer was made to locate this organization in New York,” Rob shared.
On June 7, 1939, the association was formally launched and its first meeting held inside the museum. The museum’s head of Ichthyology and Comparative Anatomy, Dr. William King Gregory, became the first president of IGFA. Rob said that it was Gregory’s influence that kept IGFA focused on research first, and fishing second.
“This organization could have ended up like any of the other fishing clubs formed during that time,” Rob stated. “But its association with the museum set the tone and priority of the research that became the core of IGFA.”
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Excerpt= IGFA President Rob Kramer says record-keeping is only a small part of the association’s activities.
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News: Rob Kramer, IGFA’s president and extraordinary conservationist