GH's Robertson honored

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Grand Haven’s John Robertson, former chief of fisheries for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, was presented with the 2013 C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Award for fostering Great Lakes partnerships by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission earlier this year.

Robertson was recognized for facilitating essential, ongoing cooperation among all fisheries managers in the development of shared fishery management goals.

Such cooperation I particularly important in the Great Lakes basin as eight states, the Canadian province of Ontario, and U.S. tribes work with federal agencies and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to manage the shared fishery.

The C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Award is named for the former Wisconsin DNR secretary and Great Lakes Fishery commission chair who epitomized the role of the partnerships in fisheries management.

Commissioner William Taylor, a professor in Global Fisheries Systems at Michigan State University, presented Robertson with his award during the commission’s recent annual meeting in Montreal.

“Over the course of Mr. Robertson’s notable career in state government, he was a visionary, a mentor, and a partner to all who were willing to work with him,” Taylor said. “Leading the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources through the 1990s, he not only made sure his state fishery managers interacted regularly with managers from other jurisdictions, he also developed close working relationships with his fellow fish chiefs throughout the basin.

“Those who nominated Mr. Robertson for this award describe him as ‘an exemplary mentor who works tirelessly to cultivate new generations of fishery managers who are progressive not only in thought but in act.’

“He continues to share his valuable vision and insight with all who will listen. Mar. Robertson’s commitment to mentorship was perhaps best realized with the establishment of the Natural Resources Leadership Program, now the Great Lakes Leadership Academy. He was integral in establishing this leadership development initiative, designed to equip new and seasoned professionals with the tools necessary for successful leadership.

“Knowing Mr. Robertson, I can say without a doubt that this transfer of skills and knowledge to the next generation is the piece that matters above all else.”

It was fitting for Robertson to receive the Besadny award this year as 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Partnership for Ecosystem Research and Management program that he initiated. The objective of PERM remains to narrow the gap between research and management.

PERM has been essential to the Great Lakes fishery management and the sea lamprey control program but supporting cutting edge research.

“For a man as dedicated to the Great Lakes as Mr. Robertson, it is not surprising that retirement did now slow him down,” Taylor added. “He continues his service with the Scientific Advisory Team of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, representing Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and maintains an active role with the Great Lakes Leadership Academy.

“John Robertson paved the way for cooperative fishery management in the Great Lakes basin. Those of us in the field today, and those who will join the effort in the future, owe him our gratitude.”

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