|The Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is appointed by our 10 Commissioners. The Executive Director is the Commission's chief executive officer as well as chief waterways conservation officer, and has charge of all activities under the jurisdiction of the Commission.
The Director is a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board, Water Resources Council, and Wild Resource Conservation Board and an ex officio member of the Boating Advisory Board and the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
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 PennFuture, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, American River 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 creating a pollution “diet.”
Director Arway has experienced the decline of the fishery firsthand. A scientist by training, he has spent more than 30 years working for the Commission in various roles. As a lifelong angler, he has fished the Susquehanna since he was a kid. It was common for anglers to catch 40-50 smallmouth bass in an evening. Sadly, many anglers now report catching only a handful on a good day. Many anglers have shared their stories with Director Arway through the Commission’s website and a page about the Susquehanna River. Those stories can be found at: http://www.fishandboat.com/water/rivers/susquehanna/susq-impairment/susq-stories.htm.
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 has often stated that one of his ultimate goals is to reduce the price of a fishing license, which he believes would entice lapsed anglers to return to the sport and encourage a new population to take up the sport. To lay the groundwork for this proposal, Director Arway has initiated multiple efforts to fund alternative funding sources for the agency. 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. Also, Director Arway is actively seeking legislative support for his proposal to charge for the privilege of withdrawing water from any Commonwealth waterway.
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 (USFWS) Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council1; by serving on the Executive Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA)2; and by chairing the AFWA Angling/Boating Participation Committee3. He is also a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission4 and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council5.
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 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.