The Center for Sportfishing Policy named Robert G. Hayes as the new chairman of its board of directors.
Hayes was elected to the leadership role at the center’s annual board meeting on May 16. He succeeds Jack Lawton Jr., founding chairman of the center.
Hayes brings experiences from a more than 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 was an attorney for NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service and he served two terms as the U.S. Recreational Fisheries Commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
“The Center for Sportfishing Policy is fortunate to have such monumental leaders in the sportfishing community involved with the organization,” Center for Sportfishing Policy president Jeff Angers said in a statement. “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,” Angers said. “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 CEO of the Jack Lawton Cos, which is based in Lake Charles, La.
An outdoorsman and leader in nonprofit organizations, Lawton has been involved as a member and/or officer in several conservation organizations, including the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, the 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 significantly into an influential force that protected redfish with gamefish status; established a ban on gill nets; and initiated countless habitat and coastal restoration projects.