AFS President Ron Essig

AFS President Ron Essig

Serving as an American Fisheries Society (AFS) officer is an honor and a privilege that comes with many responsibilities. One of these that I wanted to shed some light on in this column is the travel to represent the Society at various meetings of fisheries professionals. Many of these trips are to AFS Units in North America, and others are to meetings of professional societies on other continents.

Of course, all AFS officers attend the Annual Meeting. Because this meeting represents the only in-person opportunity for most AFS Sections to meet, the officers try to attend as many of these as possible. Because there is much overlap in the scheduling of 21 Section meetings during the week, the officers typically split these up to ensure that each one is attended. There are also Management Committee and Governing Board meetings held during the week.

The AFS President typically attends the four Division meetings during his or her term. Meetings of the North Central and Northeastern Divisions are held in conjunction with wildlife professionals in those regions and have many intriguing cross-discipline technical sessions. The Southern and Western Divisions meet separately from their regional fish and wildlife conferences, so large numbers of fisheries technical sessions are a real strength of these meetings. The Society has held mid-year, in-person Governing Board meetings in conjunction with Division meetings twice since 2013. This has provided an opportunity for officers and Governing Board members to attend scientific meetings that they normally would not get to.

There was a rich suite of fisheries science topics featured in symposia at the four Division annual meetings in 2016. The North Central Division meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in January had seven joint fisheries and wildlife and eight fisheries symposia, including climate change, reservoir fisheries, and the Michigan fisheries research legacy. Crayfish, Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis, and fish health were prominent topics within the seven symposia at the Southern Division meeting in Wheeling, West Virginia, in February. The Western Division meeting in Reno, Nevada, in March included 16 symposia ranging from desert fishes to Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi to Tidewater Goby Eucyclogobius newberryi. Finally, the Northeastern Division meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, in April featured symposia on road–stream crossings and emerging recreational fisheries issues.

The six memoranda of understanding that AFS has with professional fisheries societies in other countries that include officer travel exchange were described in the January President’s Commentary “Fisheries Down Under.” Since traveling to Australia in October 2015, I went to China in November 2015 and will be going to South Korea later this month and to the British Isles in July 2016. Due to conflicting Division meeting travel, another officer represented AFS at the Japanese Society of Fisheries Science meeting in March 2016. The Brazilian Society of Ichthyology meets every other year and will not meet in 2016.

My trip to China was to the Institute of Hydrobiology in Wuhan and to the annual meeting of the China Society of Fisheries in Hangzhou. I experienced superb hospitality from the locals in both of these cities, each with populations of over 10 million. I was treated to outstanding cuisine, with many entrees from China’s extensive freshwater and marine aquaculture industry like water lotus and several species of carp. At the Institute of Hydrobiology, I gave a presentation with the dual themes of AFS and the Sport Fish Restoration Program to students and faculty. I heard about the successful second Mississippi River–Yangtze River symposium that had just occurred there two weeks before and how the third such symposium was being planned for the 2016 AFS meeting in Kansas City. The China Society of Fisheries meeting featured presentations mainly related to aquaculture, covering fish health, genetics, and physiology. But there were also a wide range of talks on aquatic ecology and fisheries management, including a student presentation on the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

My trip to South Korea will be particularly significant because it is to the 7th World Fisheries Congress in Busan. This conference is held every four years to share fisheries information on a global scale. The American Fisheries Society is involved in program planning, with Past President Donna Parrish playing a major role in cochairing the Program Committee. The 2016 meeting has the theme “Challenge to Sustainable Fisheries and Safe Seafoods,” with at least 39 sessions covering a broad range of topics from food science to climate change.

The large travel demands on AFS officers generally prevent attendance at Chapter or Section meetings unless they are scheduled in conjunction with Society or Division meetings or are in an officer’s local area. I wish this could be different because Chapter meetings have a terrific focus on local fisheries issues. However, there just are not enough hours in the day considering all of the travel described above and other Society business, not to mention non-AFS job demands. AFS officer travel takes time and money, but the resulting information transfer on Society operations and fisheries issues from face-to-face meetings has a benefit to members that is priceless.

Members click below for the May 2016 Fisheries magazine’s complete issue. Non-members, join here.

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