NEW GRETNA, NJ: The Recreational Fishing Alliance announced today that Jim Donofrio, Executive Director and Founder is retiring effective December 31, 2021. Mr. Donofrio has been the driving force behind the RFA for over 25 years.
Says Donofrio, “It’s been an honor to lead and grow the Recreational Fishing Alliance. We’ve worked hard to safeguard anglers’ rights for more than a quarter of a century, but now it’s time for me to hang up my lobbyist hat and turn in my three-piece suits for some waders and a fly rod and enjoy some time in the duck blind with my family and friends and my black lab, Joplin. I leave the RFA in the very best hands with new interim Executive Director, John DePersenaire, former RFA Fisheries Policy & Science Researcher.”
A full-time professional captain in the 1990’s, Donofrio was logging hundreds of onboard hours per year when he became intimately aware of how regulations impact coastal fishermen, businesses owners, manufacturers and retailers. These insights spurred him to create the first IRS recognized 501(c)(4) political action organization focused squarely on the needs of saltwater anglers, the recreational fishing industry, and America’s marine resources.
Under Donofrio’s leadership, the RFA achieved victory after victory for the recreational fishing industry. It all began in 1996 when Donofrio took up the fight over the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) decision to reopen the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters outside 3 miles to the commercial harvest of a rebounding striped bass stock. This decision would have had disastrous implications for the future of the economically valuable striped bass fishery. Galvanizing a coalition of individual anglers, advocacy groups and government allies, Donofrio pressured the NMFS to maintain the closure for the health of the striped bass stocks.
“The RFA has been instrumental in the recovery of recreational white marlin and Atlantic sailfish stocks, has worked tirelessly to mitigate the damage of wind farms to the recreational fishing industry and has been influential in efforts to keep anglers fishing during the pandemic. Jim Donofrio has always been a passionate voice at the forefront of the fight,” said RFA Chairman of the Board, Bob Healey, Jr. “His ability to predict the impacts of legislation and regulatory action will be sorely missed by the entire recreational fishing community. It’s the end of an era.”
After founding RFA in 1996, Donofrio went on to establish and maintain strong working relationships with members of Congress – on both sides of the aisle – as well as with fishery managers and scientists during a 25-year political career. Recognizing that coastal fishing issues were non-partisan in nature, Donofrio worked effectively alongside democrats and republicans alike and was invited to testify before Congress numerous times on behalf of the recreational fishing community.
“There’s no better advocate for New Jersey’s fishing industry than my friend Jim Donofrio,” said Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ). “In the 27 years that I’ve known him, he’s always been dedicated to fighting for the recreational fishing industry in our state. He has worked to make sure that fishing regulations were based on facts and were fair to the hardworking fishing communities along the Jersey Shore. I wish him all the best for a relaxing retirement.”
According to the RFA, Donofrio will continue to lead the political action team through the end of 2021 and will further assist the Board with the organizational transition into 2022.
About the RFA:
Founded in 1996, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) was the first national grassroots political action organization established to represent the rights of recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues.
The RFA’s mission is to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our Nation’s saltwater fisheries.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lorna O’Hara
609 396 8838