Tom Bigford Honored with American Fisheries Society Meritorious Service Award

Tom Bigford (left) receives the Meritorious Service Award from AFS President Joe Margraf.

Former NOAA Medal Recipient, Current AFS Policy Director Given Special Recognition

(Tampa, FL) August 22, 2017 – This year’s Meritorious Service Award recipient, Tom Bigford, has been an American Fisheries Society (AFS) member since 1973. Throughout his years with AFS, he has made impressive contributions to the Society.  He is a member of eight AFS sections, past chair and longtime member of the Resource Policy Committee, past president of the Fish Habitat Section and is a regular contributor to columns in Fisheries magazine.

The Meritorious Service Award is awarded to an individual for unswerving loyalty, dedication, and meritorious service to the Society over a long time; and for exceptional commitment to the Society’s programs, ideals, objectives, and goals.

Tom is a member of the Board of Directors and past President of The Coastal Society (TCS). Tom, has been a member of TCS since 1976, and formerly served as Secretary, Executive Director, Director, publications editor, and conference program chair.

He’s been the AFS liaison to TCS for more than a decade.  During that time, one of his primary TCS missions was to inspire partnerships with AFS and other aquatic societies. Initiatives included bringing AFS and TCS to the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation’s biennial conference in November 2015 for a special session on fisheries in coastal watersheds and co-editing a special issue of the official TCS journal, Coastal Management.

For the past three years, Tom been served as Policy Director for AFS.  In that capacity, he has worked tirelessly with the Resource Policy Committee and AFS leadership to completely re-engineer the AFS policy voice. Tom is now serving as the coordinator for the Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies, a critical partnership group of now nine professional societies banded together to work on issues that affect our nations aquatic resources.  The CASS partnership has grown significantly under his mentorship from 5 to n nine science societies   Tom has also built successful partnerships with key federal agencies including U.S. Forest Service, NOAA, BLM and USFWS.  Through his relationships with the AFS policy fellows, AFS has a reputation for convening high quality, scientifically sound Congressional briefings on a wide variety of topics.

Prior to retiring and working at AFS, Tom was Chief of the Habitat Protection Division at the Office of Habitat Conservation at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for 18 years, earning a Gold Medal and two Silver Medals for meritorious service during his tenure at NOAA. Tom is a role model for a career that has been impactful, contributed to the well-being of others, and has made a significant difference to the future of our aquatic resource.

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Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.