Our Volunteers

Stephen Chase

Meet Stephen Chase, our VP of Government Affairs (staff)

Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Chase has fond memories of trout fishing with his father in small streams in the area. However, his passion for fishing and habitat issues came later while pursuing his education. Chase earned three degrees from the University of New Brunswick, starting with a Bachelor of Science in biology in 1972, followed by a Bachelor of Business and a law degree. During this time, he worked 3 summers as a biologist with New Brunswick’s Department of Natural Resources and 5 summers with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“It was during my work as a biologist with the province that I acquired an interest and some understanding of conservation issues facing wild Atlantic salmon,” said Chase. “I was fortunate that I got to work on rivers and streams throughout the province of New Brunswick, on back roads where most people never go. A boy biologist was how I referred to myself at the time.”
The work was very rewarding and gave him another perspective on conservation issues, and working under a biologist who was an avid fly fisherman, Chase soon realized that he had a passion for it himself and became a fly fisherman for salmon. Around that same time he also discovered another passion – government relations.
“During the time that I was with the provincial government, starting in 1980, I moved from doing legal affairs to government affairs,” said Chase. “During the next 20 years I became a specialist in government relations, working as New Brunswick’s representative to provincial territorial forums of deputy ministers and ministers of health and social services. That’s where I acquired the skill set – I call it the toolbox. I learned it was important to connect the dots between the bureaucrats in a government department and the elected officials.”
Government relations was the key focus in Chase’s career going forward, as he served in positions with New Brunswick’s Department of Health, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Blood Services, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. It also informed his later work with the City of Fredericton, where he served as a City Councilor and Deputy Mayor for many years.
In the 1990s Chase became involved with the New Brunswick Salmon Council, an organization of provincial conservation groups. He eventually became director and president of the organization, which brought him to the attention of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. With the ASF, Chase’s most important task was to advocate for the creation of an Atlantic salmon endowment fund as a counterpart to DFO’s Pacific salmon endowment fund. When that fund was approved, Chase was then working in DFO and became intimately involved in the public consultations and other work that went into the establishment of the fund. Shortly after the fund was incorporated as the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, Chase was invited to become the executive director.
“We built the ASCF from scratch,” said Chase. “We started out at my kitchen table in Fredericton. 2007 was an organizational year where we had to put in place all the processes – how to run an office, how to call for applications, how to develop funding agreements, how to manage feedback for recipients. Over the years, our board of directors has been able to manage the investment portfolio very well up to its current level.”
It was then with a mix of pride and sadness when Chase, after 15 years as executive director, stepped back from the day-to-day operations to focus specifically on government relations. He was succeeded as executive director by Charline McCoy in 2022.
“In every walk of life there’s a beginning and there’s an ending,” said Chase. “I believe strongly in succession; I think it’s extremely important for the success of the organization. Charline joined us in 2021 and she’s a very talented individual.”
As VP Government Affairs, Chase has two key strategic goals – to attract more funding to better meet the demand for conservation project funding and to assist provincial organizations to develop closer links with other conservation groups. To that end, the ASCF (now FCAS) launched Provincial Partnership Symposia in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island in late 2022 and is planning symposia in Nova Scotia and Québec in early 2023.