2017 Fish & Wildlife Business Summit

2017 Fish & Wildlife Business Summit

The 2017 Fish and Wildlife Business Summit was held April 3-4 in Kennesaw, Georgia with Yamaha Motor Corporation–Marine Division serving as the host. This annual gathering of state, federal, industry, and NGO leaders is in its 11th year and continues to focus on improving relationships among the partners linked by the conservation funding generated by excise taxes on fishing, hunting, and shooting equipment and motorboat fuel. The topic of this year’s Summit was industry participation and collaboration in the recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of anglers, boaters, hunters, and shooters.

Anglers at Business Summit

The Summit participants began setting the stage by identifying industry perspectives on R3 and examining R3 efforts and progress at a national level. This led to a facilitated group discussion of R3 solutions and opportunities with the desired outcomes of 1) clearly delineating opportunities for collaboration on national level R3 efforts, and 2) developing a well-defined approach for gaining congressional engagement and support for R3 issues.

Through this process, Summit participants collectively identified both industry and agency expectations of each other as it relates to the overall R3 effort. Agencies ranked the following as their priority expectations of industry:

  • Identifying how success is measured by defining shared outcomes and benefits
  • Industry input for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Tracking and Reporting on the Conservation of Species (TRACS) program
  • Identifying manufacturer and retailer reliable points of contact for state agencies
  • Helping with marketing the outdoor experience and identifying customer expectations

Agencies also specifically identified policy matters and political issues where industry could likely assist them, including:

  • Reinforcing the role and importance of agencies at the state political level to help ensure conservation issues are not lost to other state priorities
  • Serving as an ally and stakeholder in public access and license fee/structure issues
  • Helping agencies develop new business agility initiatives including modern business practices and efficiencies
  • Listening to each state’s R3 needs, and helping to offset deficiencies when and where possible
  • Providing advice for and assisting states with improving their customer service
  • Helping to carry the agency’s brand to the public
  • Establishing channels for regular and consistent communications with industry partners to share perspectives and challenges and relate current issues
  • Identifying opportunities for partnered action

Industry participants ranked their priority expectations of state agencies. Industry expects the state fish and wildlife agencies to consider:

  • Keeping on doing what they are doing from a conservation perspective
  • Providing key conservation messages, such as establishing and promoting a conservation brand
  • Simplifying regulations to the extent practicable, with industry political support
  • Fostering a willingness in state ranks to work with industry
  • Researching and understanding industry perspectives in policies and practices that could impact the business of conservation
  • Sharing license data and creating agreements with industry to open data flow in both directions
  • Thinking about individual industry sectors and identifying their unique challenges and partnership opportunities
  • Being sensitive of the retail busy seasons when seeking partnership opportunities
  • Sharing some level of excise tax reporting to help demonstrate return on investment
  • Helping to identify the information that industry would like to receive (via TRACS) and how the agency can easily share it
  • Adopting 21st century processes for selling, promotion, and communication with customers, and building brand loyalty

The Summit participants also spent time discussing the market segmentation of new customers and associated opportunities for cross-promotion. The result of this discussion included commitments by all parties for increased cooperation and data-sharing of recreational shooter/hunter sectors and fishing/boating sectors between industry and states to maximize and streamline R3 efforts. Wildlife Management Institute staff will continue to refine and develop these expectations while working with partners to develop approaches, methodologies, and partnership opportunities to bring these state and industry expectations to reality.

Going forward, Summit participants have pledged to continue to focus on assisting in R3 efforts. Providing a continual and sustainable influx of anglers, boaters, hunters, and shooters and the resulting revenue from license and permit sales and excise taxes on equipment will ensure that the conservation model that has sustained our natural resources and public opportunities for the past 80 years will continue to do so for decades to come.

The Industry/Agency Coalition and the Wildlife Management Institute would like to thank our sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Brandt Information Services, Fresh Air Educators, KalkomeyTM Enterprises, National Rifle Association, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Yamaha Motor Corporation for their generous financial contributions and overall support of this important endeavor.

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April 17, 2017