AFS was heavily involved in planning the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation’s (CERF) biennial conference in Providence on November 5-9 and several AFS members had important roles at the event. The society’s contributions include arranging a video welcome from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to Rhode Island, co-designing two science sessions on anadromous fish, co-organizing a science-policy workshop, and leading the charge for some important awards.
Most notably, AFS policy Director Tom Bigford arranged for Sen. Whitehouse to give plenary remarks at the conference. He worked with Sen. Whitehouse’s staff and his wife, Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, a marine biologist with The Ocean Conservancy, to prepare a video for the opening plenary. Sen. Whitehouse’s comments reflected his commitment to science in support of coastal and estuarine programs. He especially noted the need to understand the effects of a changing climate.
AFS continued the tradition of organizing symposia and presenting at CERF’s biennial conference by designing a session that connected fish with coasts and estuaries. A double session entitled “Diadromy across estuaries: research, management, and citizen science” featured 12 presentations on the ecology and biology of Chinook Salmon, Alewife, Blueback Herring, Atlantic Sturgeon, lampreys, Baltic Sea Flounder, and more. AFS members Ben Walther (Past President, Marine Fish Section; Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX), Karin Limburg (President, Estuaries Section; SUNY Syracuse, NY), and Tom Bigford (Past-President, Fish Habitat Section) co-moderated the sessions with Pedro Morais from the Centre for Marine Sciences in Portugal that they organized together. In keeping with efforts to bring the societies together, AFS hopes to identify a session or two at the CERF conference that could be considered for the AFS 2018 meeting in Atlantic City.
In continuing his work to encourage scientists to engage in policy, Tom Bigford also helped to organize a special, pre-conference workshop on the importance of science in supporting policy. Tom, who also serves on CERF’s Policy Committee, relied heavily on his AFS experiences as he opened the panel of five speakers. This first CERF conference foray into policy is expected to attract a large audience and to generate insights AFS might export for similar training for AFS meeting attendees. The primary intent is to equip CERF members who are predominantly scientists with the tools and confidence they need to engage in policy and advocacy.
And finally, AFS had a significant role in rewarding noteworthy accomplishments. Tom led the charge to coordinate the first Margaret A. Davidson Award, named in honor of a great friend, mentor, coastal visionary, and federal program director. The award recognizes an individual’s excellence in coastal and estuarine management. Tom designed the process to solicit nominees, have them reviewed by a special committee, and recommend a winner to be announced at the conference. Tom also judged student presentations and served as a mentor to graduate students and young professionals.
We look forward to sharing more highlights from CERF’s conference especially those relating to science in support of policy.