PennFuture Statement: John Arway’s Retirement a Loss for PA Fish and Boat Commission, Communities and the Commonwealth

HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 31, 2018) – PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo and staff are saddened by today’s announcement that PA Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway is retiring in November, after facing a long battle with the legislature for adequate funding that would have better served his agency and programs across the state.

“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,” Bonomo said. “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.”

In March, PennFuture strongly opposed the state legislature’s attempt to oust Arway over the agency’s efforts to cut costs after elected officials failed to pass a reasonable process in how fishing-license fees are set, disregarding that the commission operates without any financial support from the general fund.

“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,” said Bonomo in a March press statement. “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.”  

The PA Fish and Boat Commission is almost entirely funded by revenue from fishing and boating licenses, but those fees must be set by the state legislature, which has not been willing to increase them since 2005. As a result, the Commission is increasingly unable to fulfill its core programs, including stocking streams and lakes, managing dam safety, and supporting our anglers. 

PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.


Stephanie Rex

Director of Communications