Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway Tuesday announced he will be retiring on November 2 after 38 years of service to the Commission.
He made the announcement in a statement to members of the Commission Board and PFBC staff. It said, in part--
Retired friends have told me that you will know when the time has come to retire. I now understand. I have advised Board leadership that I will be retiring from the position of Executive Director of the PA Fish and Boat Commission effective 02 November 2018.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform the Board of Commissioners, Boating Advisory Board members and fellow PFBC staff of my planned retirement.
Today’s announcement should provide the Board sufficient time to conduct the necessary search for qualified individuals and appoint someone before my departure.
I have advised President Hussar that I will do everything I can to make the transition to a new Director as simple as possible.
I have been with the agency for over 38 years, during which time I have had many motivating and rewarding experiences.
Working for the PFBC has been a privilege, nothing less.
Never did I think, back in the fall of 1979 when I stopped by the PFBC’s Pleasant Gap Office and visited with Jack Miller and Ronni Tibbott to discuss a possible semi-skilled laborer position working on fish habitat projects, that I would wake up 38 years later as the retiring Executive Director of an agency I always respected and admired.
I would like to thank all of the people both inside and outside the agency for their support and assistance over the years. I have worked with the best of the best.
I feel truly blessed to have been able to serve by your sides while we worked to protect, conserve and enhance our Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide Commonwealth anglers and boaters with first class fishing and boating opportunities.
Our list of accomplishments is long and will remembered in the next history book as our legacy in the proud tradition of the second oldest fish or wildlife agency in the nation. Bravo Zulu!
When Commission President Tom Shetterly called and offered me the job as Executive Director over eight years ago, the vision I had of the position was soon replaced by the reality of the unusual blend of politics, science, state and national public policy, economics, and social media and personal interactions with anglers and boaters all across the Commonwealth.
My only regret is that I failed to achieve a sustainable future for the agency and its programs.
The plan we created eight years ago put us on course to control our own destiny. We executed painful cuts across programs to be able to the pay rising expenses of government. We saved sufficient revenues to be able to sustain operations until others provide funding to satisfy the public service demands of a government business.
I leave the agency in good hands and am confident that the Board and PFBC staff will maintain the courage and resolve to continue to do the right things for the right reasons for not only the current generation of PA anglers and boaters but more importantly for generations yet to come.
The plan for the future should include the defense of agency independence, living within our means and not spending more than we earn. This simple formula will insure continued agency success far into the future.
I know that my leaving will present challenges for a new director but will also create opportunities.
I am preparing plans for my replacement that outline in detail each step that is needed to complete the tasks at hand.
I will also be available to assist my replacement in an orderly transition in any way that I can.
During my retirement, I will be enjoying the bounties provided by Penn’s waters and woods. I may even stray outside our state border from time to time to see if the grass is really greener in other places.
I will remain available for advice, counsel or friendly discussion in case there is anything I can do to assist you or the agency.
I’ll be spending more time in a town called Lynch in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest.
It’s the camp with the green metal roof and I’ll be the one sitting by the campfire surrounded by an army of grandkids roasting marshmallows and identifying constellations in the night sky.
To fulfill a life’s dream and begin a new journey spending time with family and friends, I am truly grateful.
Thank you all very much for the wonderful memories. I look forward to following the continued successes of this great agency.
It has been a true privilege and honor to end my professional career as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Carpe diem!
Do Your Duty And Fear No One... R.W. Abele
Former DEP Secretary David Hess congratulated Mr. Arway on his leadership and tenure at the Fish and Boat Commission, saying, “John Arway has been and will no doubt continue to be a forceful advocate for aquatic resources in the Commonwealth. He follows in the footsteps of Pennsylvania’s first environmentalists-- our anglers and hunters-- and very much in the mould of his mentor Ralph W. Abele. He will be missed at his post, but not forgotten. Our streams, rivers and watersheds were made better by his work.”
PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo issued this statement on Arway’s retirement-- “Director Arway has followed in a line of executives who have endeavored to put our fisheries first, as guided by science, and this approach will now become a part of his legacy.
“Pennsylvania has 86,000 miles of streams, second only to Alaska, which makes clean water and fisheries an asset to the Commonwealth. At the end of the day, those responsible for protecting these assets need the resources to do their jobs.
“The problem is not going away with Arway’s departure. This is an issue that is now being queued up for his successor, but it’s not an issue that is going away.
“For 13 years, the legislature has refused to consider and approve license fee increases so the commission can do the work of scientifically managing our fisheries, providing excellent recreation experiences and protecting rare and endangered species.
“A growing and diverse number of Pennsylvanians from our cities to rural areas love fishing. For the sake of these folks and clean water, it’s time for the legislature’s attacks on Director Arway to be set aside and for elected officials to get back to doing the work of the people.”
Since taking the helm of the Fish and Boat Commission in March 2010, Executive Director John Arway has worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of the plight of the Susquehanna River and to seek remedies for fixing it.
Once considered one of the country’s top smallmouth bass fisheries, the mighty Susquehanna River has struggled since 2005 to produce viable young of year smallmouth classes.
In fall 2011, this troubling trend took on an added dimension, with adult smallmouth bass displaying unhealthy lesions.
With support from various organizations, including the Susquehanna River School, PennFuture, the National Wildlife Federation, the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, American Rivers and PA Trout Unlimited, Director Arway has repeatedly petitioned the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to place the river on the list of “impaired” waters and start the process of cleaning up the river.
Director Arway has experienced the decline of the fishery firsthand. A scientist by training, he has spent more than 36 years working for the Commission in various roles. As a lifelong angler, he has fished the Susquehanna since the early 1980’s.
At that time, it was common for anglers to catch 50-100 smallmouth bass in an evening. Sadly, many anglers now report catching only a handful on a good day.
Since others have chosen not to act on behalf of the Susquehanna’s smallmouth bass, Director Arway created the Save Our Susquehanna fundraising campaign to raise funds for PFBC staff to work with cooperative farmers on habitat improvement projects one farm at a time to improve the water quality of the river.
Throughout the country, fish and wildlife agencies face a similar challenge of retaining participants in their sport and attracting new ones.
Director Arway has met this challenge by initiating a marketing program to highlight the sport to enthusiasts and novices, to men and to women, to adults and to children, to families and friends.
The first initiative was launched Dec. 1, 2012, when the Commission began to offer 3- and 5-year fishing licenses. As an added incentive, anglers who purchase a multi-year license also receive an online, digital subscription to the Commission’s flagship publication, Angler & Boater magazine.
A separate website – www.GoneFishingPa.com – offers additional benefits. Anglers can enter a sweepstakes to win guided fishing trips and get access to numerous coupons for free goods, cost savings and discounts.
Director Arway achieved one of his ultimate goals of reducing the price of a fishing license in the 2015 license year. The intent was to attract lapsed anglers to return to the sport and encourage others who don’t fish to try the sport of fishing.
Director Arway has tirelessly advocated multiple efforts to create alternative funding sources for the agency.
These include a fee on the consumptive use of water and a portion of the state sales tax generated from fishing and boating.
Under his direction, the Commission launched a Natural Gas and Water Access Program, which secures revenues from selling natural gas from under Commission property and from leasing rights to withdraw water from Commission Property.
As the PFBC’s Chief Executive Officer, he manages and operates the agency like a business and uses business principles and government rules to manage and allocate funds to our Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide recreational fishing and boating opportunities.
Because many Commonwealth issues – such as the health of the Susquehanna River and the restoration of American shad – have impacts beyond state borders, the Commission benefits from participation on boards and committees at the national level.
Director Arway keeps Commonwealth issues at the forefront of national discussions by representing the inland states on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council; by serving on the Executive Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA); chairing the AFWA Angling/Boating Participation Committe3; chairing AFWA’s Technical Workgroup for the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; and serving as Past President of the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Northeast Division.
He is also a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
A native of North Huntingdon, Mr. Arway holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in aquatic biology from Tennessee Technological University.
He holds memberships in numerous organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science; American Fisheries Society (Past President of the Northeastern Division and Pennsylvania Chapter); North American Benthological Society; Ducks Unlimited; Pheasants Forever; BASS; the SONS of Lake Erie; National Wildlife Federation and life member of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, National Trout Unlimited (Lloyd Wilson Chapter) and the Conservation Officers of Pennsylvania.
4 House, Senate Game & Fisheries Committee Chairs Commit To New Funding For Fish & Boat Commission In 2019
Op-Ed: Straight Talk: Anglers, Boaters Declare Your Independence, General Assembly Should Act On Fee Bill
Bay Journal: PA Shad Hatchery’s 42-Year Run May Be Coming To An End, Unless PA General Assembly Acts