Center for Sportfishing Policy Honors Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Yamaha’s Ben Speciale, Announces New Board Members

May 14, 2020

Washington, D.C. – May 14, 2020 – This week, the Center for Sportfishing Policy (CSP) hosted its annual May board meeting and participated in the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s 2020 Virtual American Boating Congress (ABC) where the organization honored two influential leaders for their contributions to recreational fishing, boating and marine conservation.

CSP recognized Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross with the Jack Lawton, Jr. Conservation Award, named for CSP’s founding chairman. The award is given annually to a trailblazer for marine conservation and angler access and commemorated with an antique compass that rotates to the honoree of the year.

“Secretary Ross connects commerce and conservation,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “Since day one, he has recognized the critical role America’s millions of recreational anglers and boaters play in the American System of Conservation Funding. We are happy to honor him with our Jack Lawton, Jr. Conservation Award for his commitment to balancing conservation and public access.”

CSP honored Yamaha Marine President Ben Speciale with the Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award for his dedication to the recreational fishing and boating industry and his commitment to angler access and marine conservation.

“Ben Speciale has worked tirelessly for decades uniting marine manufacturers with angler advocates to promote the recreational fishing and boating lifestyle,” said Angers. “Ben leads the way in advocating for good stewardship of our marine resources not only through his personal time but through topnotch conservation programs at Yamaha. Like Eddie, his impact on marine conservation and the future of recreational fishing will be felt for generations to come.”

The Eddie Smith Award was established by CSP to honor extraordinary commitment to conservation by manufacturers. An icon in marine manufacturing, Smith was a leader on the boards of NMMA; Coastal Conservation Association North Carolina, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and many other leadership roles. Well known as the owner of Grady-White Boats, Smith received the first-ever American Sportfishing Association Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the NMMA Hall of Fame. Past recipients of the award include AFTCO’s Bill Shedd; Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris; Maverick Boats’ Scott Deal; Shimano USA’s Dave Pfeiffer, and Yamaha’s Phil Dyskow.

“Although we could not gather this week in Washington D.C. as originally planned, the recreational fishing and boating industry has come together once again to show our strength and unity with more than 800 industry leaders gathering virtually for ABC, thanks to NMMA,” said Angers. “2020 is a year like no other, but our industry is filled with innovative leaders ready to help Americans heal through the joys of fishing and boating.”

At its annual board meeting on May 12, CSP instated members to its board of directors.

Elected to serve three-year terms:

Elected to serve two-year terms:

Elected to serve one-year terms:


The Center for Sportfishing Policy is the nation’s leading advocate for saltwater recreational anglers. The Center organizes, focuses and engages recreational fishing stakeholders to shape federal marine fisheries management policies. For more information, visit