AFS Procedures—Operational Policies and Procedures

Operational Policies and Procedures


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  • Developing and Advancing AFS Positions on Resource Issues
  • Procedures for Developing and Advancing Resource Policy Statements
  • Procedures for Submitting, Considering, and Implementing Resolutions
  • Society Advocacy and Unit Procedures
  • Lobbying Information and Guidelines
  • Publications Policies
    • Comprehensive Publications Policy
    • Publications Policy-Symposium Series
    • Recruitment, Review, and Retention of Editors
  • Continuing Education Courses
  • Topic-Oriented Meetings (TOMs)
  • Topic Oriented Hill Seminars
  • Meeting Support


Activities that occur regularly in the Society have been standardized as fully as possible to ensure ease of performance and consistency of treatment and style. Therefore, the Society has established a series of operational policies and procedures. These are intended to help members, rather than to restrict them. These procedures are always subject to revision, so members should check with the Executive Director before undertaking major projects and should offer AFS staff suggestions for improvements and updates to keep this manual consistent with current practice.

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Developing and Advancing AFS Positions on Resource Issues

The Society promotes the conservation, development, and wise utilization of aquatic resources. Organizational policies are developed by the membership to guide the executive staff and members on issues affecting aquatic resources and the environment. The membership is diverse in terms of geography, experience, and topics of environmental concern. To properly represent and fully capture the broadest spectrum of knowledge, interest, and concern in such issues, it is important to involve every member, to the extent possible.

It is desirable to obtain full, careful, and continuing consideration of aquatic resource issues by all units. The units should identify and elevate issues to higher levels within the Society for debate, screening, and possible action. A protocol is provided for unit involvement to better enable the Society to identify issues worthy of policy guidance and to identify informed members with specific capabilities to help the Society take scientifically defensible, objective, and technically accurate action on specific issues.

Each Division, Chapter, and Section of the Society should adopt a mechanism through either standing committee, Executive Committee, or other means whereby issues relating to aquatic resources and the environment can be identified. Action at the unit level may be elevated to Society staff, and opportunities might also originate with AFS Headquarters. When warranted, Society units and staff will take action to provide political, social, and/or technical guidance from Society members and others. Each issue, accompanied by a brief justification of need and vision of anticipated actions, should be forwarded to the chair of the Society’s Resource Policy Committee (RPC).

Issues may be raised at any time. The RPC chair will evaluate the submitted materials, and if it is deemed necessary to judge the potential utility and value of specific actions, they will seek further justification from the sponsoring unit. The ultimate decision of the RPC chair relative to accepting, modifying, or rejecting suggested actions will be forwarded to the originating unit. Responsibilities for statement development (for those suggestions accepted) will proceed as outlined in the “Protocol for American Fisheries Society Policy Action,” which is as follows.

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Procedures for Resource Policy Action

1. Purpose

AFS promotes the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. Organizational procedures are developed by the membership to guide the volunteer leadership, executive staff, units, and members on how the Society can engage on issues affecting aquatic resources, professional ethics, and the environment. To properly represent and fully capture the broadest spectrum of knowledge, interest, and concern, it is important to involve a wide expertise to represent the membership diversity, to the extent possible.

2. Selecting an Issue

Once a year, the chair of the Resource Policy Committee (RPC) will advise all AFS units that proposals for new AFS policy action should be referred to the Resource Policy Committee.

Any formal unit, informal group, or individual member of AFS, hereafter referred to as the sponsor, may propose an issue for study and development into a formal AFS policy action.

An appropriate issue is defined as a matter of current or potential impact on fishery professionals, aquatic resources, or the environment, of which the political, social, and/or technical resolution is important to the AFS membership. An AFS policy action could be a publication, meeting, congressional briefing, or letter, developed by AFS members, provided to a specific audience, and expressing an analysis of the science and management implications by the AFS and perhaps a recommended response. It is desirable to obtain full, careful, and continuing consideration of aquatic resource issues by all AFS units. Each AFS Division, Chapter, and Section should adopt a mechanism whereby issues relating to aquatic resources, professional ethics, and the environment that are of importance to the unit’s members can be routinely identified. The originating unit should identify and elevate issues to higher levels within AFS for debate, screening, and possible development of specific Society action. A protocol is provided for unit involvement to better enable AFS to identify issues worthy of policy guidance and to identify informed members with specific capabilities to help AFS prepare scientifically defensible, objective, and technically accurate information or products.

3. Proposing a Policy Action

Once an issue is proposed, the sponsor prepares a brief justification of need, timeliness, products or actions, and a list of the names and addresses of fishery professionals possessing the interest and knowledge to assist throughout AFS engagement. These materials are forwarded to the chair of the AFS RPC. Newly adopted resolutions on appropriate issues should be referred to the RPC chair for further policy action, if warranted. In consultation with the AFS officers and Executive Director, the RPC chair decides whether to accept, modify, or reject suggested issue topics for Society involvement.

4. Review of Proposals

The RPC chair will evaluate the appropriateness of proposed issues for AFS action. The chair shall request comment on proposed issues from RPC members and from other AFS members knowledgeable about the issue. Criteria for evaluation shall include, but need not be limited to, importance to the membership (e.g., recent AFS resolutions on the issue), potential significance to aquatic resources, overlap with existing AFS priorities, and present workload of the RPC.

After analyzing the proposed issue, and after coordinating with the AFS Policy Director, the chair shall make a recommendation to the AFS Governing Board and request direction. The chair shall then provide the sponsor a decision on further action, including a letter, personal phone call or visit, technical presentation, or special briefing. That conversation should include discussion of potential partners on the particular topic.

5. Study Reports

Study reports are intended to support AFS actions on particular issues. These reports may be viewed as shorter versions of the background documents formerly developed to support AFS policy statements. Each report may be used to frame potential AFS actions or to be included with comments or other materials provided to decision makers. Such reports shall be prepared by a work group formed by the AFS President, in consultation with the RPC chair and the sponsor. The chair may appoint a member of the RPC to represent the chair on the work group. The chair shall be responsible for ensuring that the work group includes AFS members knowledgeable on the issue. Additional AFS members may be requested by the sponsoring unit or the chair to communicate their views on the issue to the work group and/or review and comment on work products. The group is responsible for ensuring that each report represents the best available information from AFS sources (units, publications, meetings) and elsewhere.

6. Professional Responsibilities and Restrictions

Members of AFS are encouraged to participate in developing Society positions, reports, and other documents and in any associated meetings or activities. Members of AFS have the responsibility to provide accurate scientific knowledge and professional opinion within their fields of expertise to public and private policymakers and to the general public.

The American Fisheries Society holds federal tax exemptions for scientific and educational purposes. Therefore, candidates for political office may not be endorsed by AFS or its units, and only a portion of AFS revenues, as specified by Title XIII of Public Law 94-455, can be used to influence federal legislation. Special care must be taken to preserve the Society’s credibility and independence in all AFS actions, including the development and use of AFS products such as reports and letters.

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Procedures for Submitting, Considering, and Implementing Resolutions

A resolution is a formal expression of AFS views. The purpose of a resolution is to call attention to issues of concern and inform members of matters important to AFS. Resolutions by themselves do not solve problems; however, they place the AFS on record as recognizing the need for action by individual members, government agencies, appropriate legislative or administrative bodies, or AFS officers.

Two types of resolutions may be considered. Internal resolutions concern AFS itself by honoring the achievements of members, recognizing individuals or organizations that have assisted AFS in its work, or addressing AFS operations. External resolutions place AFS views on record regarding matters of significance affecting the fisheries resources of North America or the world. The following considerations apply mainly to general resolutions.

General external resolutions may be adopted at any organizational level of the Society. Resolutions should be identified clearly as actions of the respective organizational level. Chapters and Divisions usually adopt resolutions concerning local or regional fisheries issues, while Sections adopt resolutions on issues pertinent to their area of interest. It is the policy of AFS to adopt external resolutions only on important issues of broad national or international significance, where an expression of the views of the membership will be effective in accomplishing the desired action. Regional or local resolutions may be judged as having national significance and be worthy of consideration by AFS, so the Resource Policy Committee must provide guidance in the format of the resolution and the procedure for advancing it for AFS consideration.

External resolutions should first be considered and adopted by Chapters, Sections, or Divisions so that the broadest segment of the membership can participate in discussions and debates. Resolutions should stand the debating process; however, there is often little opportunity for extended debate at the annual meeting of the AFS.

Chapters, Sections, or Divisions desiring Society action on a resolution must ensure that it carries national or international significance. Resolutions should be submitted to the Resource Policy Committee with background information necessary for the evaluation of accuracy and importance of the resolution. The background information accompanying a resolution should include contact information for those individuals involved in developing the resolution; a list of potential outside reviewers with their complete addresses, including those who are in favor of the resolution and those thought to be opposed to it; and contact information, including e-mail addresses, for all individuals who should receive a copy of the approved resolution.

Because resolutions become void when the issues they address become moot, it is imperative that the unit desiring Society action inform the Resource Policy Committee of any action that may render the resolution moot.

External resolutions must undergo thorough and rigorous review in order to protect the credibility of AFS. For this reason, a formal review system is recommended. The Resource Policy Committee will seek guidance from committees or units having responsibility for the general subject area with which the resolution is concerned. Also, individual members having expertise in the subject area will be included in the evaluation process.

External resolutions will be examined carefully; the relative merits and demerits will be discussed as well as the methods of implementing resolutions. The Resource Policy Committee will then submit the resolution to the Management Committee for approval.

Upon approval by the Management Committee, resolutions will be posted to the AFS website and notice sent to all members by e-mail in addition to a notice being published in Fisheries. When feasible, members will be given at least 30 days to review and comment on the document.

Final resolutions must be approved by the Management Committee then the Governing Board prior to membership vote. Voting may take place electronically or at the annual Business Meeting.
Because of the lack of opportunity for substantive analysis and debate, resolutions coming from the floor for consideration at the annual Business Meeting are discouraged unless they are of an emergency nature. The presiding officer may recognize a resolution coming from the floor, provided that it is written in the proper format and copies are available for distribution at the meeting.

Approved resolutions will be published in Fisheries and posted in a secure format on the AFS website, as appropriate.

Approved resolutions will be electronically distributed by AFS staff to the list of individuals named in the background information.

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Society Advocacy and Unit Procedures

Sharing science-based information with the public is a key AFS value. There are a number of means of sharing information, including publication in AFS journals or other scientific publications, workshops, continuing education courses, unit newsletters, resolutions, policy statements, and periodic communications such as letters, action alerts, and media releases.

Units should adopt internal procedures to manage development of positions in support of advocacy actions that are suitable for their unit. The following advocacy guidance (modeled after guidance developed by the Idaho Chapter and the Western Division) provide a good model.

A unit may hold meetings, sponsor symposia, disseminate information, adopt resolutions, and engage in other activities that advance Society objectives and conform to the Society’s Constitution, Rules, and Procedures. Actions and resolutions of a unit shall be identified only with that unit unless formally adopted by the Society or another unit. (AFS Constitution Article V #5).

A. AFS Advocacy Guidance

  1. Issue Selection Criteria
    1. Is the issue pertinent to AFS goals?
    2. Will involvement of AFS make a difference?
    3. Is there membership support?
    4. Does AFS have the best available technical information?
    5. Have minority opinions been solicited and presented?
    6. Does the urgency of the issue warrant action without full membership approval?
    7. Is AFS willing to follow through?
    8. Do the geographic boundaries and other aspects of the issue make it appropriate for AFS action?
  2. Steps
    1. Member, committee, or unit raises concern/issue
    2. Unit or committee reviews and recommends action to AFS Governing Board or Executive Director and Officers
    3. AFS Governing Board or Executive Director and Officers reviews appropriate action relative to criteria. The Governing Board will review the issue if at all possible.  In some situations where it is a rapidly developing policy issue that cannot wait for Governing Board action the Executive Director and Officers may review the proposed action relative to the criteria.  In those instances they will notify the Governing Board of the decision and rationale.  Regardless of who reviews the issue they should ultimately:
      1. Refer to committee for more information, or
      2. Solicit wider review of membership, or
      3. Take action
  3. Possible Actions
    1. Sends letter requesting action or providing comments
    2. Drafts resolution
    3. Drafts policy statement
    4. Recommends educational forum
    5. Denies action with justification
    6. Litigation

B. Coordinating Unit Advocacy with AFS

  1. As a unit is preparing a draft policy statement or a draft resolution, a plan to share it with other units and other fisheries-related groups should be developed. For example, in 1992, while the Humboldt Chapter was preparing its position paper “California Salmonid Stocks at Risk,” the following steps were taken: a news release was prepared and distributed, Chapter members were advised of the release date via the newsletter, Chapter members were asked to be on the outlook for misinformation in the media and to respond with letters to the editor, the Western Division and Chapters in the Division were contacted to assure coordination, and AFS Headquarters was contacted so the information could be shared with national media contacts, foundations, and Washington State-based fisheries conservation groups in a timely fashion.
  2. Ultimately, unit positions are sanctioned by AFS and subject to change by decision of the Governing Board if they are not in keeping with the overall goals of the AFS.

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Lobbying Information and Guidelines

As a result of AFS’s tax-exempt status, AFS must follow certain guidelines set forth by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We may provide expert testimony in administrative and legislative hearings; write letters, make telephone calls, and visit our legislators to discuss issues for which we can provide science-based information; share our information with the public at large and urge that action be taken; and lobby for sound fisheries legislation. Under no circumstance can AFS or any of its units be involved in partisan political campaigns. This means neither AFS, as a whole, nor one of its units nor a member using their AFS affiliation can endorse a political candidate.

Much of what was once considered lobbying is now considered information sharing under the August 31, 1990, U.S. IRS regulations. For example,

  1. Urging Congress to develop legislation to better manage large interjurisdictional rivers is not lobbying…. however, urging a single Congressional representative to support HR 1234 or any specific legislation is lobbying.
  2. Generally, communicating with a judicial, executive, or administrative body is not considered lobbying.

The American Fisheries Society declares its lobbying expenditures each year when filing its income tax form. Both direct lobbying and grassroots lobbying are permitted, but they have different financial limits. Direct lobbying occurs anytime AFS petitions a legislator for action. Grassroots lobbying occurs when an AFS member asks nonmembers to contact their legislators. With an annual budget of about two million dollars, AFS is permitted to spend a total of $250,000 on lobbying, of which $62,500 can be grassroots lobbying. This generous lobbying limit exceeds future foreseeable expenditures. The limit is high because the IRS expects public nonprofit organizations like AFS to speak out on topics where they have expertise and strong commitment.

Ideally, AFS would lobby on issues where the Society has developed policy or position statements, or resolutions, but because of time constraints, that is not always possible. Be sure that whichever avenue is followed (direct or grassroots lobbying), the concurrence of the appropriate unit is obtained. Notify related units, the AFS Executive Director, and the AFS President of planned lobbying actions to ensure coordination. As long as you proceed in a professional manner with science-based information your views will be helpful to your audience.

Each unit president or their designee must provide the AFS Executive Director with a copy of lobbying materials and an estimate of the costs incurred during the past calendar year by January 30 of each year. When in doubt as to whether a project is lobbying or not, the project should be forwarded to AFS Headquarters. The AFS staff, in consultation with the AFS tax advisor, can make a determination of the project’s status.

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Publications Policies

Comprehensive Publications Policy

The following is a comprehensive AFS publications policy, first adopted in 1987 and later modified according to current practice and to the strategic plans of the Publications Overview Committee (POC). (See also, under Publications.)

1. Scope and Application of the Policy

The following policy applies to all scientific publications issued by or on behalf of AFS or its units (i.e., those scientific and technical publications bearing the AFS logo or that otherwise can be identified as being sponsored by the Society or any of its units).

Exceptions: This policy does not apply to directories, bibliographies, and other information or library aids; routine membership communications (e.g., newsletters) of the Society or any unit; or such periodic reports by units or by standing or special committees as may be required by the Governing Board or by the Executive Committee of any Division.

2.0  Editorial Control and Authority

    1. The Executive Director is responsible for Fisheries with respect to the appointment of editors, editorial policy, and content.
    2. The Executive Director and the Director of Publications are responsible for all other publications of the Society to the extent defined in the following sections of this policy.
    3. For journals of the Society, the Director of Publications appoints editors for specific journals and oversees and approves the development and implementation of editorial policy and quality control.
    4. For unit publications, the Director of Publications reviews and approves the publication proposal with regard to editorial policy and standards and quality control. The Director of Publications, at the request of the sponsoring unit, may also provide the necessary advice and assistance regarding scheduling, format, and printing.
    5. In arriving at a decision to approve book publication, the Director of Publications consults with the Executive Director and the Book Editorial Advisory Board.
    6. In disapproving a book publication proposal, the Director of Publications will present the reasons for such action, and will provide, if appropriate, advice on the procedures or actions necessary to merit approval.
    7. Appeal of an adverse decision regarding a book may be made to the Governing Board, who may seek additional review and recommendations from the Executive Director, Book Advisory Committee and the POC.
    8. For all such book publications, one copy of the final product must be provided to the Executive Director and to the Director of Publications.

3. Control and Review of Quality and Standards

The Director of Publications, editors, and associate editors are responsible for establishing and maintaining high levels of quality with respect to scientific content and effective communication in the publication or publications under their control.

For Fisheries, a chief science editor will oversee the science content of the journal. Specifically, the chief science editor will:

    1. Select the Science Editors for the scientific papers submitted to Fisheries.
    2. Make final decisions about accepting or rejecting scientific papers, based on reviews orchestrated by the Science Editors of Fisheries.
    3. Ensure the scientific veracity of the each issue of Fisheries, by perusing the entire issue for scientific content prior to publication, including science papers, student angles, case studies, and letters to the editor, while the Managing Editor continues to solicit and edit the magazine content such as features, columns, etc.
    4. Help select Science Editors according to POC procedures for the recruitment, review, and retention of AFS journal editors.
    5. Solicit broad general submissions of general interest to the diverse membership of AFS.
    6. Solicit cutting-edge submissions from world leaders in fisheries science.
    7. Mentor and provide guidance to the Science Editors, including acting as vice-chair of their editorial meeting at the AFS Annual Meeting
    8. Attend the meetings of the AFS Journals Editorial Board
    9. Interact with the Managing Editor for Fisheries and Director of Publications. This includes discussions on the production of the journal, updating instructions to authors, time to publication of issues, and providing feedback related to content, themes, and direction of the scientific and magazine aspects of Fisheries.

All prospective technical contributions to journals or to other volumes will be peer-reviewed.

    1. Peer review usually will be conducted by two reviewers, acting independently.
    2. For Fisheries, the same policy applies to contributed articles; the Executive Director may waive the peer-review requirement for invited papers or opinion papers.
    3. Reviewers will have their anonymity protected unless they specifically indicate otherwise.
    4. Reviewers shall not communicate with the authors of manuscripts under their review except through, or with permission of, the editor, until the manuscript has been accepted for publication.
    5. Reviewers shall not keep, copy, or distribute manuscripts sent to them for evaluation.
    6. The POC will perform periodic reviews of the content, quality, and editorial standards of AFS publications and will report its findings and recommendations to the Executive Director.
    7. The Executive Director may request review by POC of specific publications.

4.  Publication Ethics

    1. Authors are expected to maintain high ethical standards with respect to extending appropriate credit and recognition to their colleagues and fellow contributors.
    2. Dual publication (i.e., the replicate publication of the same data or information) is not allowed. A full discussion of this issue is found in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 110:573–574, 1981; the policy enunciated in the referenced editorial is hereby extended to all AFS publications.
      1. Authors of manuscripts must state that ideas, data, and conclusions purported therein to be original are neither under simultaneous consideration by another publisher or for another Society publication nor previously published.
      2. All papers—whether published, in press, or under editorial review—that are closely related to the manuscript being submitted must be documented in the manuscript or in correspondence to the editor. Reprints or preprints must be made available on request of the editor.
      3. Qualifications and exceptions to this policy are given in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 110:573–574, 1981.

5. New Publications and Publication Services

    1. The Society will develop new publications as needs and opportunities occur. Expansion of the existing list of publications may occur as the result of development of a new publication series, assuming control of existing publications through contractual or other agreements, or by providing other information-transfer or information retrieval services.
    2. All proposals for new journals must be approved by the Governing Board, following recommendation by the Executive Director and consultation with the POC.
      1. In specific instances, or for specific types of publications, the Governing Board may delegate this authority to the Executive Director.

6. For all such publications, the policies stated herein will apply.

    1. The Executive Director is authorized to act for the Governing Board in matters pertaining to translations of AFS publications to other languages and obtaining translations into English of appropriate writings in other languages.

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Publications Policy-Symposium Series

(Based on policies approved in 1986).

To qualify as a volume in the symposium series, the proposed publication must consist of a set of previously unpublished, thematically related contributions in one of the fields of fisheries as defined in the “Guide for Authors” of Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, North American Journal of Fisheries Management, North American Journal of Aquaculture, or Journal of Aquatic Animal Health. The contributions should be the result of a symposium, workshop, or conference.

The volume may be published as either a special feature in a journal or as a stand-alone book publication. In some cases, the proceedings may be published as a special feature in a journal issue and then subsequently as a reprint book volume. A decision between these two alternatives lies with the Director of Publications and is based on the potential market and merit of the proceedings.

The proposal to the Journal Managing Editor (if for a journal), or the Director of Publications (if for a book) for inclusion in the symposium series must include:

    1. A rigorous statement of the symposium’s purpose and scope;
    2. Identification of an editor, with a statement of the editor’s commitment to the project;
    3. A statement of editorial procedures and standards to be applied;
    4. A schedule for review and final manuscript submittal;
    5. Assurance that the material will be sufficient for a substantial publication.

Whenever possible, the proposal should be presented prior to the symposium, conference, or workshop.

The Executive Director and Director of Publications have final responsibility and authority for accepting or rejecting a proceedings proposal. Appeal of an adverse decision on proposal acceptance may be made to the Executive Director, POC, and then, possibly, to the Governing Board.

Responsibilities of the Journal Managing Editor and Director of Publications are to

    1. Review the proposal and to correspond with the Symposium Committee or editor regarding editorial standards, page charges, and schedules;
    2. Exert quality control by performing a substantive review of manuscripts before they are returned to authors;

Responsibilities of the Symposium Committee or sponsors are to:

    1. Develop the proposal in accordance with above;
    2. Maintain the review schedule;
    3. Provide for all peer reviews; and
    4. Maintain AFS standards regarding technical quality control, format, and bibliographic control.

In the case of symposium projects sponsored by AFS units and published as books, net profits from the sale of symposium volumes will be divided equally between Society (50%) and the sponsoring unit(s) (50%). Exceptions to this policy may be negotiated with the Director of Publications and Executive Director.

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Recruitment, Review, and Retention of Editors

Recruitment of Editors

    1. Existing editorial board members will actively recruit successful Associate Editors that have expressed an interest in serving as an Editor or that might be willing to consider serving.
    2. To ensure that there is an opportunity for open recruiting, an advertisement will be placed in Fisheries and communicated through other AFS journals and AFS email distribution lists. The text of that advertisement will be discussed among the Selection Committee (see below), but should contain language similar to:

AFS seeks dynamic scientists with the broad perspective on fisheries  and high editorial standards to serve as editors of (name of journal). AFS seeks editors who must be committed to fastpaced deadlines and would be appointed for five year terms. Duties include:

      1. Deciding on the suitability of contributed items and advising authors on what is needed to make contributions publishable, using the advice of the editorial advisory board and outside reviewers. Editors review material for scientific accuracy as well as for clarity, readability, and interest in the broad fisheries community.
      2. Soliciting manuscripts to ensure broad coverage.
      3. Setting the editorial standards for (name of journal) in keeping with the objectives of the publication in accordance with the policies and guidance provided by the Publications Overview Committee and editorial board of the Journal.
      4. Making recommendations to enhance the vitality of the Journal.

To be considered for one of the editor positions send your curriculum vitae with a letter of interest explaining why you want to be the Journal editor via email to (appropriate contact information). To nominate a highly qualified colleague, send a letter of recommendation to the same email address.

3. When appropriate the announcement should specify the sub‐discipline or focus area (e.g.,marine fisheries, inland fisheries, genetics, etc.) of the new editor.

4. The AFS Publications Director or AFS Lead Technical Editor will contact nominated candidates to determine their willingness to serve.

5. A Selection Committee will be formed to review candidates. Committee makeup should be the AFS Publications Director (Chair), the current editors for the journal in need of a new editor, and the current chair of the Publications Overview Committee. The Selection Committee will choose a new editor recognizing that interpersonal communication skills and editorial experience are as valuable as a long publication record.

Recruitment of Associate Editors

When an AFS journal needs to replace an Associate Editor, potential candidates should be identified via nominations by the retiring AE, existing AEs and Editors (with those nominations based primarily on a history of quality of reviews provided by candidates), the AFS Publications Director and Lead Technical Editor, and names that have come through the AFS committee volunteer call that is published prior to each annual meeting. In addition, an annual announcement will be included in the June or July issue of Fisheries soliciting interested candidates. Selection of a new AE from that pool of candidates will be done by journal editors (with each editor for a particular journal voting on the potential replacement) in conjunction with the AFS Publications Director and the AFS Lead Technical Editor.

Review and Retention of Editors

All AFS journal editors will meet with the Publications Director each year (preferably at the annual meeting, but phone interviews may be required when meeting attendance is not possible) to discuss work over the previous year. Discussion topics may include major changes in submissions to the journal, rates of acceptance or rejection, times manuscripts spend in review, and comments (if any) from authors or associate editors.

Every five years, the Publications Director should review each journal editor with the explicit goal of making sure that the editor’s performance continues to serve the society well. Issues for discussion may include any concerns that authors or associate editors have raised, the time that manuscripts are on the editor’s desk, and any sudden shifts in acceptance or rejection rates or any significant departures from rates of the other editors of the same journal. If no concerns arise, the editor will be appointed for another five year term. If concerns are raised they should be discussed at this time, and if the AFS Publications Director feels that the problems are too large for the editor to continue, the editor will not be invited back for another term.

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Continuing Education Courses

One of the most important functions of the Society is the maintenance and enhancement of the technical, professional, and administrative knowledge and skills of its members. The AFS Continuing Education Committee (CEC) is charged with that task and encourages individuals, Chapters, Sections, Divisions, and other subunits to develop and propose continuing education activities. These may be approved for Continuing Education Units (CEUs), which are tracked for participants by the American Council on Education (ACE) through a transcription service. The designation of CEUs ensures a consistent awarding of credit.

The AFS Continuing Education Committee is responsible for ensuring the quality of AFS Continuing Education (CE) offerings; thus, all courses or activities conducted at Society-level events must be approved by the committee. In addition, all courses seeking to award AFS CEUs must be approved by the CEC.

To obtain approval for a proposed activity, proponents must complete a course approval form, available on the AFS website at or from the designated staff liaison at the AFS Headquarters Office. Completed forms should be submitted at least two months prior to proposed date for the activity to the designated AFS staff liaison or CE chair. Forms are sent to the committee for review. A decision to approve/disapprove along with any recommendations to improve the course and designation of CEUs (if any) is sent to the course contact, usually within 3–4 weeks.

When a course has been approved, the designated AFS staff liaison sends the instructor/course contact the forms students must complete to obtain CEU credit. These must be filled out during the CE activity. Course contacts must also collect a CEU registration fee for each student who wants to receive CEUs. The fee is US$7.00 per AFS member and $10.00 per nonmember. Completed forms and one check covering all registration fees must be sent to the Unit Services Coordinator by the course contact after completion of the activity. Course participants who are receiving academic credit are not eligible for CEU credit.

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Topic-Oriented Meetings (TOMs)

Topic-oriented meetings (TOMs) are specialized meetings that focus on a particular topic of interest to AFS members. They are held periodically in addition to the AFS Annual Meeting and are typically much smaller in size. They are not meant to replace similar meetings that are sponsored by various AFS units but, in contrast to those meetings, are sponsored by the Society, frequently in collaboration with AFS units or external organizations. Topic-oriented meetings serve to advance the AFS Strategic Plan goals of information transfer and outreach, aquatic stewardship, and member services. They help to advance AFS Strategic Plan strategies of increasing visibility, enhancing collaboration with other organizations, providing services for professional development, and providing scientific and technical information.

Organizing a TOM
A TOM may be organized by an AFS unit or by individual AFS members. The organizers will identify the focus of the proposed TOM and prepare a statement of topics to be addressed. This statement becomes the body of the proposal, which is submitted to the AFS Meetings Oversight Committee for review. The organizers will identify a program committee and work with that committee to establish potential participants, time, meeting location, sponsorship, financial responsibility, and the program plan.

Proposal Submission

Organizers should submit a proposal with the following sections to the AFS Meetings Oversight Committee:

  1. A list of organizers and program committee members.
  2. Discussion of the scientific focus of the conference, topics of proposed sessions, objectives and goals.
  3. Suggested dates and duration of conference.
  4. Suggested sites (if the organizers have a preference) and reason for choice.
  5. Co-sponsors, if any, and their role (financial or non-financial support) in the conference.
  6. Outline of format and schedule (invited speakers, appropriate number of contributed papers, posters, and time available for discussion).
  7. Fields of interest, possible participants, a preliminary list of key speakers and possible guests from other societies or abroad.
  8. A preliminary budget including anticipated income and expenses.
  9. Anticipated number of participants and the size of the community from which attendance will be drawn.
  10. Previous or upcoming conferences that will be held on same or similar topics. If within past two years, justification for holding another conference.
  11. Anticipated conference reports and/or publications.
  12. Field trip description, if there is going to be one.
  13. Biography of organizers, including a list of recent publications.

Sponsorship and Financial Responsibility

Topic-oriented meetings should be a self-supporting program within AFS. The American Fisheries Society will help organizers to identify potential financial sponsors and will be the principal sponsor of TOMs.

For conferences held outside the United States, a local fisheries equivalent organization should be asked to consider sponsorship to avoid the appearance of unilateral action on another’s turf. This sponsorship may be in-kind as well as financial assistance.

Once the proposal is approved by the Meetings Oversight Committee, the organizers will work with AFS to determine an appropriate funding strategy for the conference.
The preliminary budget will detail who (AFS or the organizers) is responsible for deficits or excesses, how the conference fees will be set, and who will submit a financial statement to AFS at the conclusion of the conference. When a conference is held outside North America, the host organization will usually handle logistics for the conference and therefore will control the finances. In such cases, the host organization is generally asked to accept financial responsibility for the conference, relieving the organizers of this responsibility. Staff of AFS will prepare a letter of agreement for these cases.

Program and Abstracts

If necessary, AFS will assist with the abstracts via online submission and make the abstract database available to the organizers. The organizers and program committee arrange the program and provide the program copy to AFS. The program is for attendees only and is not given or sold to others. The program, with abstracts, is also put on the AFS website.

The conference organizers should prepare announcements and pre-conference publicity to be published in Fisheries and other appropriate outlets, including the AFS website.
AFS staff will edit the final copy for publicity pieces. The organizers may provide AFS with a select mailing list of potential participants. Registration and housing information is sent to all who contribute to the conference program or express an interest in attending.


The information presented at some TOMs should lend itself to publication; thus, the conference organizers should consider carefully the question of publication. All publication proposals are subject to review by the appropriate publication board or editor. The American Fisheries Society has the right of first refusal to publish a product before the organizers can go to a non-AFS product/publisher.

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Topic Oriented Hill Seminars


The American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the oldest and most prestigious fisheries professional society in the world. Founded in 1870, AFS now has more than 9,000 members with expertise in all areas of fisheries science and management.

The mission of AFS is (1) to promote the conservation, development, and wise use of fisheries; (2) further the professional development of its members; and (3) gather and disseminate scientific, technical information about fisheries science and practice through publications, meetings, and other forms of communication to members and the general public. Relying heavily on thorough peer review, AFS has become the pre-eminent voice of fisheries science and has therefore become a most trusted voice for communicating that science.

The American Fisheries Society proposes to facilitate a series of seminars that will be open to all scientific views and will be designed to further educate the general public, congressional staff and governmental agencies about a wide variety of fisheries related issues. Topics may be proposed by federal agencies or congressional staffers for consideration by AFS.

However, the Society will act as the facilitator of these seminars in order to provide an impartial forum for communicating the latest developments on key fisheries issues. Having AFS select speakers and provide the means of communicating the science will assure impartiality and objectivity, especially in the often-contentious debates related to the management of fishery resources.


Quarterly to biannual seminars on Capitol Hill (during lunch hour or afternoon) to focus on current issues in fisheries and other aquatic resources. The seminars would be delivered using the following format:

  1. One moderator to officiate each seminar. The moderator will open and close the seminar, introduce speakers, and moderate the question-and-answer session.
  2. Each seminar will include presentations from two to three speakers. Each presentation will be 10–20 minutes in length and will focus on the theme of the seminar.
  3. After the conclusion of the presentations, the floor will be opened for a question-and-answer period lasting no more than 20 minutes.

Initial list of suggested topics:

  1. Ocean acidification
  2. Marine aquaculture
  3. West Coast salmon runs
  4. Invasive species
  5. International fisheries management and conservation
  6. Diverse human interfaces with fisheries

Potential collaborators, including related professional societies such as

  1. ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography)
  2. The Wildlife Society
  3. CERF (Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation)


Each seminar will be held in a designated congressional office building depending on availability.

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Meeting Support

The American Fisheries Society is a scientific society that regularly seeks funding for its Annual Meetings from agencies, foundations, and other entities. As such, it is not able to provide monetary contributions to support meetings of other scientific organizations. The American Fisheries Society’s participation at such meetings may be provided, however, through AFS presence at trade shows as well as through contributions of books, posters, and other products for sale or distribution at the meetings.

The American Fisheries Society may provide monetary contributions to support the meetings of AFS units, but those contributions will normally be limited to providing seed money that will be returned to AFS from the revenue of the meeting. In addition, AFS may provide support to AFS unit meetings through participation at trade shows as well as through contributions of books, posters, and other products for sale or distribution at the meetings.

Procedures for Implementing this Policy

  1. Monies will not be allocated for financial support of non-AFS meetings. Allocations of seed money to support AFS unit meetings (money to be returned to AFS will be subject to the normal dollar-value reviews whereby the Executive Director and officers may approve expenditures up to $5,000, the Management Committee approves requests for expenditures from that level up to $10,000, and Governing Board approval is required for larger requests.
  2. All organizations or units requesting seed money to support meetings should submit formal requests electronically to the AFS Executive Director. This requirement includes requests from both non-AFS and AFS Units for AFS participation at trade shows, and so forth, and requests from AFS units seeking seed money support for meetings. All requests should provide details about the meeting purpose, dates, venue, and type of assistance requested from AFS. Non-AFS organizations should also provide information to address the criteria noted in #4 below. All requests submitted to the AFS Executive Director will be discussed with the AFS officers, who, together with the Executive Director, will make a decision. When seed monies in excess of $5,000 are requested, the decision will be made at the appropriate level (either Management Committee or Governing Board). The Executive Director will communicate the decision to the requesting Unit or non-AFS organization.
  3. Decisions to provide active AFS participation at meetings (e.g., at trade shows will, in general, place priority on requests from AFS Units over requests from non-AFS organizations. The Executive Director may make exceptions.
  4. Criteria that will be considered in providing an AFS presence at non-AFS meetings
    1. Will include close tie-in to the AFS mission.
    2. Must have possible long-term returns to AFS in terms of membership growth, publication sales, and other tangibles.
    3. Must encourage reciprocity with AFS meetings (i.e., show willingness to consider a reciprocal contribution to AFS meetings.
    4. Will include other criteria as deemed appropriate by the Executive Director and officers.

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Page last updated June 16, 2023