AFTCO’s Bill Shedd Inducted to IGFA Hall of Fame
In early September, AFTCO Chairman Bill Shedd was inducted into the 2023 International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame for his immense contributions to fishing conservation, battling for angling access, and pioneering innovations in fishing tackle and fishing apparel. Bill’s father, Milton Shedd, who founded AFTCO, is also an IGFA Hall of Fame honoree, marking the first time a child of an inductee was also entered into the hallowed halls.
A Lifetime of Service
Over his storied career, Bill Shedd has volunteered more than 15,000 hours to conservation projects, spending 400 to 500 hours every year for more than 35 years on marine conservation and sportfishing industry issues. Shedd is known for co-founding United Anglers of Southern California (UASC), where he led that group’s efforts to pass Proposition 132 (the anti-gillnet initiative) and develop white seabass grow-out facilities to support hatchery science.
Shedd’s conservation efforts also played a key role in eliminating the experimental mako shark longline fishery in California. In 1989, Shedd started the AFTCO “Tag Flag” and later championed tag-and-release sportfishing. Today, Shedd is the board chairman for Coastal Conservation Association California, an organization dedicated to marine conservation, protecting anglers’ rights, promoting youth sportfishing participation, developing hatchery science and enhancing marine habitats and angling opportunities.
In his acceptance speech at the IGFA event that took place Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, Bill Shedd’s remarks reminded everyone of lifelong commitment and vision for sportfishing.
“In closing, I want to leave you with this: All of us here understand how important and valuable sport fishing is either to ourselves, or to someone we love. It is not just the challenge of catching the fish or wanting to take care of them. Fishing is more than that, it is a way of life that includes family and friends and relationships and experiences that are part of who we are,” Shedd said.
“The biggest threat to our way of life is the radical element of the environmental community who wants to kick anglers unnecessarily off the water. Recent examples include the Right Whale situation in the Atlantic and No-fishing Marine Protected Areas in the Pacific. Yes, there are many rational environmental groups who make for important conservation partners that we should and do work with. However, we must stand up against the extremists and recognize that even though they won’t recognize it publicly, they are waging a war on us.
“Let’s never forget we are the original fish conservationists,” Shedd pointed out. “Our history, passion, leadership, results, and some $1.5 billion contributed yearly to support healthy fish stocks gives us the right to aggressively fight for the future of sportfishing and for the fish.”
Both Milton and Bill were early leaders in marine conservation. Today a new generation of Shedd’s are taking over the family’s conservation reigns and developing new and innovative ways to protect both our environment and the anglers who enjoy it.