Standards of Professional Conduct

Preamble:

A member of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) has an obligation to perform his/her duties in an ethical manner. First and foremost, on joining the AFS, a member accepts the responsibility to serve and manage aquatic resources for the benefit of those resources and of the public, based on the best scientific data, as specified by the Society’s “North American Fisheries Policy” (see Fisheries 21[3]:26-29). He/she acts ethically in his/her relationships with the general public and with his/her employers, employees, and associates, and he/she follows the tenets of the Society’s Equal Opportunity Policy (see 1998-1999 AFS Membership Directory and Handbook, page 3). He/she strives to preserve and enhance the fisheries profession. All members must adhere to the “Standard of Professional Conduct” as herein established.

Section I. Integrity of the Profession

Each member of the AFS shall:

  • Avoid actual or apparent dishonesty, misrepresentation, and unprofessional demeanor by using proper scientific methodology, by adhering to the Society’s “Guidelines for Use of Fishes in Field Research” (see Fisheries 13[2]:17-21) by fully documenting technical conclusions and interpretations, and by encouraging these practices by others;
  • Not speak for, represent, or imply in any way that he/she represents the Society without the express approval of the president or Governing Board. No member of any Chapter, Division, or Section may speak with authority for that group without specific authorization;
  • Give appropriate credit for professional work done by others;
  • Make the fisheries profession more effective by exchanging information and experiences with colleagues, students and the public via formal publications, reports, and lectures; informal consultations; and constructive interactions with professional societies, journalists, and government bodies;
  • Approve only those plans, reports, and other documents he/she has helped prepare or has supervised;
  • Make professional recommendations and decisions to benefit fishery resources and the public, base them on the best available scientific data and judgments, and give a clear and balanced exposition of the consequences of following and of not following such recommendations and decisions;
  • Restrict, to the extent feasible, criticisms of technical results and conclusions of other researchers to professional forums such as meetings and technical journals;
  • Treat employees justly and fairly with respect to recruitment, supervision, job development, recognition, and compensation.

Section II. Relations with Clients, Employers, and the Public

Each member of the AFS shall:

  • Serve each client or employer professionally without prejudice or conflict of interest; unless the member’s professional convictions conflict with the policies of the employer, in which case the member will provide the employer with full supporting evidence and sufficient time for study and action;
  • Maintain confidential relationships with employers and clients unless authorized by the employer or required by law or due process to disclose information or results produced while employed by that client;
  • Advertise his/her professional qualifications truthfully, without exaggeration and without denigration of others;
  • Express opinions on an aquatic resources subject only if qualified to do so by training, experience, or study;
  • Clearly separate professional opinion from accepted knowledge or fact in all communications;
  • Advise against any action or decision by an employer, client or colleague that violates any law or regulation. If a member finds employment obligations conflict with professional or ethical standards, the member should advise the employer of the conflict. If such a conflict is not resolved in a timely manner, or if the action appears to materially affect the public health, safety, or welfare, then the member shall advise AFS of the objectionable condition or practice and supply substantial evidence of the problem. The member should reject attempts by employers and others to coerce or manipulate professional judgment and advice. The member should exercise professional judgment without regard to personal gain, and refuse compensation or other rewards that might be construed as an attempt to influence judgment;
  • Not distort or withhold information solely to substantiate a personal point of view;
  • Give expert testimony to a court, commission, or other tribunals only when based on adequate knowledge and honest conviction and give balanced judgments about the consequences of alternative actions;
  • Expose scientific or managerial misconduct, including misrepresentation to the public of aquatic science/professional information, by informing the president of the AFS. The president shall refer this material to “The Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee.”
  • Version Adopted by the Governing Board August 1997
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