By Gary Jackson ([email protected]) and Ron Essig
AFS is a lot more than a United States fisheries society. Of course, North America has been at the forefront, but AFS has members from about 60 countries. AFS has been a leader in the World Fisheries Council that organizes the World Fisheries Congress held every four years, with the next being May 23-27, 2016, in Busan, South Korea (wcfs.fisheries.org/7th-worldfisheries-congress-2016-busan-korea). In recent years, AFS has established Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the fisheries societies in Brazil, the British Isles, China, Japan, and South Korea for officer exchange programs, where the host society funds lodging and meeting registration for the society president visiting their annual meeting. A similar MOU was just approved with the Australian Society for Fish Biology (ASFB), whereby the ASFB President Gary Jackson attended the 2015 AFS meeting in Portland and AFS President Ron Essig attended the 2015 ASFB conference in Sydney. There have been limited officer exchanges between the two societies in the past, but they were on a more ad hoc basis with individuals electing to attend for personal interest reasons.
The ASFB (asfb.org.au) was founded in 1971 and currently has about 325 members including 93 students. As of this writing, there are 34 AFS members from Australia, with most also belonging to ASFB. Administrative work like membership, meeting arrangements, website, and newsletter that were formerly done by volunteers is mostly now done for ASFB under contract. There are two elected representatives from each of the seven Australian states and territories, two from New Zealand, and two more representing the student membership. The ASFB has active Threatened Fishes and Alien Fishes committees, plus several committees that have been active in the past including Stock Assessment, Fish Passageway, and Recreational Fishing. Similar to AFS, all that is needed for such groups to thrive are 1-2 champions to lead them and make them work.
The 41st annual ASFB conference that was held in October 2015 in Sydney, New South Wales, had plenary speakers each morning covering topics as diverse as indigenous fishing rights, fish screening technology, abalone sea-ranching through to e-DNA. The meeting was held in conjunction with the International Symposium on Stock Assessment and Sea Ranching, which drew about 70 international participants of the total 300 conference attendees. This conference was large enough for there to be up to six concurrent sessions over three days, although this format varies annually. The ASFB conferences rotate geographically around the country, and New Zealand with the membership in the various states taking their turn in hosting the event, as with AFS. The next ASFB conference will be September 5-8, 2016, in Hobart, Tasmania, with Western Australia already lined up for 2017.
Here is some unique Australian fishery information from the meeting that we would like to share:
• In 2011, there was an extreme marine warming event off Southwest Australia where surface ocean temperatures were 3-5 C° above normal. This caused several tropical species to recruit and overwinter, but only the rabbitfish Siganus sp. was shown to have reproduced over 200 nm south of its historical southern limit.
• Common Carp Cyprinus carpio expansion in recent years has resulted in plans for control using a herpes virus.
• There is commercial sea ranching of abalone in Western Australia that involves the deployment of artificial reef structures that provide benefits for other marine species. There is increasing use of artificial reefs in marine waters for recreational fishing and a concurrent increase in research programs to monitor their success.
• The use of acoustic telemetry is very popular and large arrays of receivers are in place, particularly off Australia’s east coast.
• An innovative program called Redmap (redmap.org.au) allows citizen scientists to report observations of unusual fish and other marine life along with photographs for scientific verification.
•There are directed recreational fisheries on Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar. Escapees from net pen ranching in Tasmania. Escapees are not as much of a genetics issue as in North America since there are no other native salmon species.
There are many benefits of the officer exchange between AFS and ASFB. Foremost is communication of scientific information, and the meeting highlights above provide a few examples. There were several presentations at the ASFB meeting on large-scale recreational fishing surveys in Australia and New Zealand that prompted the sharing of information on new U.S. national survey methodologies. Several ASFB members gained new insights on the potential for publishing in AFS journals or attending AFS meetings. There was sharing of ideas for society governance like the Emerging Leaders Mentoring Program, involvement of women scientists in leadership positions, and student engagement strategies. Regarding students, both societies have student presentation awards and international travel awards. Perhaps there can be reciprocal study opportunities between the two societies in the future. Of note here is that Australian colleges and universities do not typically have master’s level programs like in North America.
The AFS-AFSB MOU exchange is off to a great start. This co-authored column is just the first step in mutual information dissemination. Members can attend meetings of the other society or write journal or newsletter articles. The more that happens, the more the realization that fisheries issues have commonalities, even if they are halfway around the world from each other.
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