AFS Procedures—Standing and Special Committees

Standing and Special Committees

Members of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society research

Credit: Western Division of the American Fisheries Society

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Standing committees are permanent committees established through the Society Constitution. These committees perform a variety of tasks deemed essential by the membership. Committees carry the burden of substantive work conducted for the membership as a whole.

Additional standing committees are established through amendments to the Constitution, usually by converting a special committee that has functioned effectively for several years and the charge of which has been deemed worthy of standing-committee status.

The AFS President appoints and charges the chairs and members of all standing committees within 30 days after the annual Society meeting unless otherwise specified. All appointees must be active members, and their terms of duty extend to the end of the next Annual Meeting if not stipulated otherwise.

Special committees address topics that do not fall under the responsibilities of standing committees. In the past, the terms “ad hoc,” “sessional” and “special” have been used by the Society to denote this type of organizational unit. The term “special committee” is now designated in the Constitution as the standard name for any group acting for the Society that is not specifically authorized in the Constitution.

Special Committees are formed when the AFS President or Governing Board decides that a formalized AFS action or position is needed on some issue. Examples include internal studies of the Society or specific Society functions (e.g., long-range planning), developing issues of national or international importance (e.g., reorganization of federal fisheries agencies), or new initiatives by the Society (e.g., fish photograph library).

Special committees are established by the AFS President, with no additional authorization needed. They exist for one year but may be reappointed in subsequent years at the discretion of the subsequent AFS President. Members may include individuals who are not active members of the Society, particularly for special committees established in partnership with other professional/scientific societies or for issues on which current AFS expertise is limited.

Society committees and their current chairpersons are listed in the annual AFS Membership Directory and Handbook and on the AFS website.
The Coordinator of Unit Services on AFS staff provides support for committees and track membership on the committees.

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Responsibilities of Committee Chairs

In addition to the specific responsibilities for each committee, committee chairs share a number of general responsibilities, as follows:

  1. Ensure that the committee charge is well understood and implemented:
    1. Confer with the AFS President after being appointed to determine the exact charge of the committee and any unusual or specific charges for that year. Work must begin quickly because committees generally have one year or less to perform their charges.
    2. Confer with the outgoing chair of the committee to determine what tasks remain from the preceding year and to receive documents, supplies, and other materials necessary for committee function.
    3. Review the Society Constitution, Rules, and Procedures with special emphasis on the sections relevant to your committee.
  2. Committee appointments:
    1. Official appointments are made by the AFS President. The chair should work with the AFS President to develop a list of potential committee members. Potential members should be contacted to determine their ability and willingness to join the committee. It is the responsibility of the chair to make expectations and workload requirements clear to potential committee members.
    2. Broad representation in committee membership is important so that the committee accurately reflects the Society’s overall viewpoint. Geographic location, professional expertise, and employment sector are primary criteria for committee balancing.
    3. There is benefit to maintaining institutional memory and to a fresh perspective on committee responsibilities. The chair should balance those by recommending a mix of new and returning members.
    4. Some committees have very specific limitations on membership and terms of service (e.g., certification). It is the chair’s responsibility to ensure that the AFS President is aware of them and makes appointments accordingly.
  3. Committee leadership:
    1. Immediately after appointment of the committee, contact all members to describe the nature of the committee’s work, the specific tasks to be completed and the associated timetables, and to solicit suggestions from members concerning the most efficient and effective way to perform those tasks.
    2. Work with committee members to develop goals, time schedules, and responsibilities. Be respectful of the fact that this is volunteer work and allow sufficient time to complete the tasks.
    3. Maintain regular contact with committee members. Members rely on the chair to keep them on schedule, which means that one of the chair’s main jobs is to keep the members working.
    4. When appropriate, encourage members to confer with colleagues, both within and outside AFS, who may be interested in the committee’s charge or have experience with similar issues or activities. Exceptions would be in cases where the committee has agreed to keep interim drafts confidential until a final draft is completed or for confidential issues (e.g., ballot tally, certification, ethics, and professional conduct, etc.).
  4. Travel expenses:
    1. Committee chairs (and the AFS President) should make it clear when recruiting committee members that travel expenses are not normally covered for AFS committee activities. If for whatever exceptional reason a committee chair decides that he/she must have the participation of a committee member at a certain committee meeting, and such participation requires travel funding, the committee chair should submit this request to the AFS President and Executive Director in writing, specifying the estimated amount and justifying the need. If approved in writing by the Executive Director and Officers, on a case-by-case basis, the recipient will be notified by the committee chair.
  5. Committee decisions and minority opinions:
    1. On questions requiring votes, the chair should vote only to break ties or vote with a sealed ballot before the rest of the committee so the chair’s vote cannot unduly alter the outcome.
    2. In all deliberations, encourage members to express their opinions before expressing the chair’s. Participate in the process only as much as any other member.
    3. Prohibit any individual member from dominating the committee’s viewpoint by actively seeking the opinions of all members (e.g., circulating drafts of one member’s long letter, asking each member to speak on each issue or asking specific questions of each member during conference calls).
    4. Provide opportunities for committee members to include minority opinions or reports along with the main actions or recommendations of the committee.
  6. Reports and record keeping:
    1. Submit midyear and annual reports to the AFS President on time and in the prescribed format.
    2. Maintain complete and orderly files of committee correspondence and action for transmission to the incoming chair where appropriate. This should include memos to the file describing any new procedures or modifications used during the year.
  7. Institutional Memory and Continuity:
    1. Review the Society Constitution, Rules, and Procedures near the end of your term as chair. Do those documents accurately describe Committee roles and operations? Recommend to the AFS President any changes necessary for the efficient operation of the committee and Society. Make the recommendation in the form of a motion to update the appropriate document(s) so that the Governing Board will consider it at their next meeting.
    2. At the end of your term, write letters to active committee members, thanking them for their participation.
    3. Recommend prospective committee members and chairs for the following year to the President-Elect.

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Responsibilities of Committee Members

In addition to the specific responsibilities for each committee, committee members share a number of general responsibilities, as follows:

  1. Ensure that the committee charge is well understood and implemented:
    1. Confer with the chair after being appointed to determine the exact charge of the committee. It is important that you understand your role and the expectations of the chair. Do not agree to serve unless you are willing and able to complete the assignments.
    2. Review the Society Constitution, Rules, and Procedures with special emphasis on the sections relevant to your committee.
  2. Committee participation:
    1. Respond in a timely manner to all requests from the chair. Provide suggestions on specific committee assignments as well as the most efficient and effective way to perform those tasks. Participate in the development of goals, time schedules, and responsibilities.
    2. When appropriate, confer with colleagues, both within and outside AFS, who may be interested in the committee’s charge or have experience with similar issues or activities. Exceptions would be in cases where the committee has agreed to keep interim drafts confidential until a final draft is completed or for confidential issues (e.g., ballot tally, certification, ethics and professional Conduct, etc.).
    3. Express your opinions openly, considering the interests of the Society and entire membership before your personal interests.
    4. Listen to and carefully consider the viewpoints of other committee members. Do not dominate committee information exchanges whether personal, telephone, electronic, or written.
    5. Review the Society Constitution, Rules, and Procedures near the end of each year. Do those documents accurately describe committee roles and operations? Recommend to the chair any changes necessary for the efficient operation of the committee and Society.
  3. Travel expenses:
    1. Be aware that travel expenses are not normally covered for AFS committee activities. If for whatever exceptional reason a committee member and chair believe that travel funding should be provided, the committee chair should submit this request to the AFS President and Executive Director in writing, specifying the estimated amount and justifying the need. If approved in writing by the Executive Director and officers, on a case-by-case basis, the recipient will be notified by the committee chair.

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Purposes, Composition, and Duties of Standing Committees

For each of the standing committees, the following sections will be included. The intent is to provide a complete, clear, and concise documentation of why the committee exists, who should be on the committee, what the committee does, and (when available) how they should do it. The idea is to enhance efficiency and consistency by providing clear guidance to future committees.

Purpose: This will include the committee description directly from the Constitution. If the Constitution is changed this section should be changed similarly. It is acceptable to add additional detail regarding purpose so long as it is consistent with the Constitution. Care should be taken not to mix duties or operational details into this section.

Composition: Some standing committees have very specific requirements for membership such as the Board of Professional Certification or Board of Appeals. Most are less specific. In all cases, care should be taken to obtain broad representation in committee membership. This is important so that, to the extent possible, committee perspectives reflect that of the Society. Geographic location, professional expertise, and employment sector are primary criteria for committee balancing.

Duties: This should be a list of the specific duties for each committee. Please list chronologically if applicable.

Operational Guidelines: These are not relevant to every committee, but some have rather specific rules for operation. These are distinguished from duties in that duties are “what you do” and operational guidelines are “how you do it.” This distinction is not always clear but can be helpful at times.

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Arrangements Committee

Purpose: Makes the arrangements for all aspects of the annual Society meeting. This includes coordinating budget and finance, collaborating with AFS Headquarters on registration and other administrative aspects of the meeting, collecting fees, planning accommodations and social functions, organizing venues for oral and poster presentations, fundraising, coordinating student affairs, and generating publicity for the meeting.

Composition: The chair is selected at least two years prior to the meeting. A suitable candidate is ideally identified at the time the group bidding for the Annual Meeting makes their presentation to the AFS Time and Place Committee for consideration. This appointment is made by the current AFS President but in consultation with the officer who will preside over the meeting being arranged. For example, the Second Vice President will be AFS President in three years, so they select the person to chair arrangements at “their” meeting. The chair is generally a member of the local Chapter or organization hosting the Annual Meeting. This person then serves as a member of the committee until the year they serve as chair.

The chair coordinates and administers all aspects of the Annual Meeting. The committee normally has many subcommittees composed of the host jurisdiction’s professionals.

Duties: The chair also serves as general chair for the Annual Meeting (Article IX, 2. A). In this capacity, the chair provides coordination and oversight for the other meeting committees. If disagreements arise, the chair will make the final decision in consultation with the AFS President.

Performs activities as described in the “Guidelines for Hosts of Annual Meetings” which is available from AFS Headquarters.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

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Audit Committee

Purpose: Conducts a review of the Society finances to address Congressional concerns regarding nonprofit organizations where the Executive Director is also the financial officer. Provides recommendations to the Executive Director and AFS President concerning Society financial affairs. (Article IX.1.B.)

Composition: At least three AFS members, including two co-chairs.


  1. Review the financial picture and practices of the Society at the end of each year before an outside contracted firm conducts the formal audit.
  2. Work with AFS financial staff to provide feedback to the Executive Director on financial issues.
  3. Review the audit report provided by the contracted audit firm prior to the midyear Governing Board meeting.
  4. Present conclusions in a report to the Governing Board at the AFS Annual Meeting.

Operational Guidelines: None. Additional guidelines are described in the AFS Procedures manual section “Financial Planning and Procedures Committee.”

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Awards Committee

Purpose: The Awards Committee oversees subcommittees for various Society-level awards. Each subcommittee has specific composition and duty requirements and, in most cases, selects award recipients.

Composition: The Awards Committee includes subcommittees for each Society-level award. The overall chair is appointed by the President.

Duties: The chair coordinates the activities of all award subcommittees, ensuring that committee appointments are made and that each committee is active and on track to complete its assignment. Soon after the April 1 nomination deadline, the chair should solicit names of nominees being considered by each award subcommittee to determine if any individual or entity has been nominated for more than one award. If so, the chair should alert the affected committees and ask them to coordinate their activities so that the same individual or entity will not be recognized in the same year with multiple Society awards, unless such multiple awards are deemed appropriate.

Duties that are common to all subcommittees are listed here. Other duties, specific to each award, will follow under that subcommittee’s listing in the Society Awards section of the Procedures.

  1. By October of each year, the chair of each award subcommittee sends their contact information to both the Unit Services Coordinator and the chair of the Awards Committee.
  2. Nominations are due April 1 and are sought in multiple ways:
    1. Each award subcommittee solicits nominees for its respective award.
    2. The chair of the Awards Committee encourages units to forward their award winner nominations to the appropriate Society award committee for consideration at this higher level.
    3. The Unit Services Coordinator solicits nominations for all Society awards in the December/January issue of Fisheries; those award notices must be sent to the managing editor of Fisheries in October. The Unit Services Coordinator also sends at least one reminder notice prior to the April 1 nomination deadline.
  3. The chair of each award subcommittee informs the chair of the Awards Committee of progress in recruiting members, award nominations, and any proposed procedural changes.
  4. After the selection of an award recipient, the chair of each award subcommittee informs the chair of the Awards Committee, the Unit Services Coordinator, the Executive Director, the President, and the awardee (informally). Every effort will be made to notify the awardee as far in advance of the meeting as possible to facilitate travel planning. The Unit Services Coordinator will send a formal letter from the President to notify the awardee, provide logistical information about the meeting, and request necessary information (e.g., photograph and phonetic spelling of name). Awardees are encouraged to share the award announcement with colleagues. Press releases, however, should not be issued until after the Annual Meeting.
  5. Official announcement of each award occurs at the Annual Meeting, either at a Plenary Session or at the Business Meeting, depending on the award and discretion of the President.
  6. To facilitate presenting the award at the Annual Meeting, the chair of each award subcommittee will provide the Unit Service Coordinator with 3–4 one-line bullets summarizing the awardee(s) accomplishments as well as contact information.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time

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Board of Appeals

Purpose: Considers appeals from fisheries professionals whose applications for original or renewed certification have been denied by the Board of Professional Certification. Only certified fisheries professionals may serve on the board.

Composition: Society Second Vice-President and each Division president; chair of Board Professional Certification (nonvoting convener).

All members must be certified fisheries professionals. Noncertified individuals serving in the roles identified above must designate a proxy from their unit, to be appointed by the AFS President.


  1. Convener receives appeal request forwarded from the Executive Director.
  2. Convener writes analysis of original decision of the Board of Professional Certification and of the new or expanded materials presented by applicant to counter that original decision and sends copies of this and the original application with all related materials along with a ballot to each Board of Appeals member.
  3. After reviewing the application, all attachments, and the analysis, each Board member sends only the marked ballot to the Executive Director who transmits the resulting decision (a simple majority vote of the five members overturns the original ruling) to applicant.
  4. This is a confidential process; Board members may not show or discuss applications or reveal the reasons for negative decisions to anyone except other Board members, Board of Appeals members, AFS Staff involved with certification, and the applicant.
  5. Certification Board chair (as Convener) passes on new or ongoing appeals to the incoming chair.

Operational Guidelines:

The Board of Appeals considers appeals from fisheries professionals whose application for certification or renewal has been denied by the Board of Professional Certification. The board will consult with the appropriate subcommittees of the Board of Professional Certification as needed. However, if an appeal is based on a denial because of a deficiency in Professional Development Quality Points, and if the application was rejected by the AFS Headquarters staff member without examination by the Professional Development Subcommittee, then the Board of Appeals must seek a recommendation from that subcommittee before taking action.

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Board of Professional Certification

Purpose: Certifies fisheries professionals based on standards and requirements adopted by the Governing Board.

Composition: The Board of Professional Certification comprises three subcommittees: the Education Subcommittee, the Experience Subcommittee, and the Professional Development Subcommittee. Each subcommittee will consist of five certified fisheries professionals serving staggered three-year terms, one of whom shall be appointed chair.

The board chair is appointed by the AFS President and may be either a subcommittee chair or a member with prior knowledge and experience related to the certification process. The chair is responsible for coordination of board activities.

The Education Subcommittee must have at least one member from each Division, and all members must be faculty members from colleges and universities at the time of appointment.

The Experience Subcommittee must have at least one member from each Division and have at least two employees of government agencies at the time of their appointment and one from the private sector at the time of their appointment.

The Professional Development Subcommittee must have at least one member from each Division and have at least one faculty member from a college or university, one employee from a government agency, and one from the private sector. Members must be from those groups at the time of their appointment.

The outgoing/continuing chair queries each member’s intent to continue to serve annually and provides a summary of all members to the incoming chair or co-chairs and the AFS President.

Duties: This committee approves or rejects applications for professional certification. It is their obligation to be fair and objective and to maintain the integrity of the process. They should also strive to complete reviews in a timely manner.

Each member must become familiar with and knowledgeable about the certification guidelines as published in these Procedures and on the website at This committee reviews and updates these criteria periodically and presents recommended changes to the Management Committee for adoption.

Submit mid-year and annual reports to the AFS President on time and in the prescribed format.

Maintain complete and orderly files of committee correspondence and action for transmission to the incoming chair, where appropriate. This should include memos to the files describing any new procedures or modifications used during the year.

Operational Guidelines: The Education Subcommittee approves or denies applications with regard to educational requirements. Updated education requirements are described on the website:

The Experience Subcommittee approves or denies applications with regard to professional experience requirements.

The Professional Development Subcommittee will work with the Coordinator of Unit Services to review professional development requests (both for certification and renewal).

Applications for Certified Fisheries Professional must be approved by all three subcommittees.

Applications for Associate Fisheries Professional must be approved only by the Education Subcommittee.

Applications to upgrade from Associate Fisheries Professional to Certified Fisheries Professional must be approved by the Experience Subcommittee and the Professional Development Subcommittee, provided the Associate Fisheries Professional status has not expired.

Applications for Emeriti status must be approved only by the Coordinator of Unit Services. The Experience Subcommittee should evaluate applications if there are uncertainties or disagreements with applicants.

Applications for Certified Fisheries Professional under the “established fishery professional” category must be approved by the Experience Subcommittee and the Professional Development Subcommittee.

The board may choose to table applications that are incomplete or require additional clarification. Applicants will be given 90 days to provide additional information in support of their applications as requested by the board. The application will be denied if such information is not provided.

The board responds to inquiries from the board of appeals as appropriate.

The Coordinator of Unit Services is responsible for overall coordination and distribution of applications to the subcommittees. This includes answering questions and assisting members in the preparation of their applications. This also includes initial screening of applications to verify that all information provided by applicants meet minimum certification requirements. Applications that clearly do not meet requirements will be rejected and returned to applicants with an explanation of the identified deficits. The appropriate subcommittee(s) should evaluate applications if there are uncertainties or disagreements with applicants.

This is a confidential process; board members may not show or discuss applications or reveal the reasons for negative decisions to anyone except other board members, board of appeals members, AFS staff involved with certification, and the applicant.

Each round of certification reviews consists of two votes.

Round 1: Pre-decision comments.

This is where subcommittee members do the most intensive review of the applications. Each subcommittee chair compiles all comments and distributes the results to the board chair and the Unit Services Coordinator.

Round 2: Decision vote.

Once the Unit Services Coordinator receives reviews from all three subcommittees, they send the board chair a compilation of all members’ votes on all applicants. Three negative or three positive votes are required for a final decision on each subcommittee. If decisions are unanimous on the first round, there is no need for a second evaluation. In cases of a split vote, all members should review the application again and submit their final decision. It is the board chair’s responsibility to make a final decision if there is an even split.

The emeriti reviews require no pre-decision comment. Individuals who have held the Certified Fisheries Professional designation for at least 20 years (need not be consecutive) and who are employed less than full time or are retired may request emeriti status, through which they can maintain their Certified Fisheries Professional status without the renewal requirement.

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Communications Committee

Purpose: Assists and advises the President, units, and staff on strategic planning, implementation, and training for internal and external communications and products. The committee sets criteria and guidelines to ensure quality control of all communications sponsored by the Society.

Composition: The committee consists of a chair and representation from the Divisions, units, membership, staff, and officers (standing members) that are most closely associated with implementing current high priority communications processes and products. Members represent each of the Divisions and relevant units and reflect the range of current communications efforts in AFS, along with other functions such as unit leadership training, continuing education, and Web presence. Additional voting members could be added as appropriate.

Standing Members:

  1. Committee chair
  2. Northeastern Division representative
  3. North Central Division representative
  4. Southern Division representative
  5. Western Division representative
  6. Representatives from appropriate units, such as the Fisheries Information and Technology Section, the Science Communications Section, the Membership Committee, the Publications Overview Committee, and Students/Young Professionals.
  7. AFS staff (nonvoting)

Duties: The committee provides expertise and guidance on developing and implementing a strategic and integrated approach to how AFS uses the full capabilities of its existing communication channels (e.g., the Society website, marketing materials, newsletter, and social media). Communications functions conducted by the Society must systematically meet the goals and objectives of AFS by establishing clear guidelines and expanding the current approach to communications.

The committee will:

  1. Assess and develop communications strategies based on a comprehensive review of AFS as an organization, existing AFS communications, the needs of AFS members and other groups, effective and current mission and messages, and benchmarking of AFS communications.
  2. Produce or review materials for inclusion in the AFS Procedures manual, such as
    1. branding guidelines,
    2. social media guidelines, and
    3. other documents, as needed
  3. Work with AFS staff, officers, and other representatives of the Society, units, and subunits to incorporate evaluation, development, and implementation of communications strategies through various AFS communication channels.
  4. Promote awareness, guidance, concurrence, and strategic implementation with the AFS community affected by implementation of strategies and associated guidelines. The committee works with AFS units and committees as necessary to provide or obtain expertise and training on communications strategies and tactics to be delivered through AFS-sponsored activities.

Operational Guidelines:

None specified at this time.

Constitutional Consultant


Assists and advises the AFS President on parliamentary procedure at all meetings of the Society, Governing Board, and Management Committee.  The Constitutional Consultant reviews all proposed amendments to the Constitution and assists the Executive Director with their presentation to the members prior to a vote.  The Constitutional Consultant reviews all proposed amendments to unit bylaws and bylaws of new units for conformity with the Society’s Constitution, and presents them to the Management Committee with recommendations for approval.


One person.  It is best to appoint someone who is familiar with Governing Board operations and willing to serve for at least three years. The Constitutional Consultant serves for one year as an Apprentice before being the lead parliamentarian for a minimum term of two years.


Most duties are described above in the purpose.  The most important task is to assist and advise the AFS President and other members of the Society on parliamentary issues.  It is also the responsibility of the Constitutional Consultant to ensure that the Society Procedures are updated to reflect Governing Board and Management Committee actions.

Operational Guidelines:

The Constitutional Consultant serves as a non-voting member of the Governing Board and Management Committee.

The length of service is not specified but generally should be at least 3 years.  There should be a one-year apprenticeship for the incoming Constitutional Consultant.  This allows the person to become familiar with issues and learn about the job.  The Constitutional Consultant is expected to be a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians.

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Electronic Services Advisory Board

Purpose: Periodically evaluate AFS electronic membership services to assess effective and efficient functionality, information content, ease of use, timeliness of information, attractiveness, and implementation of new media. Additionally, the Electronic Services Advisory Board (ESAB) will provide for broadscale representation of member interests in electronic services by facilitating quality control of online data management, media, and communications and facilitating technical guidance (e.g., annual workshops on electronic services) for units, Sections, Chapters, and individuals.

Composition: Includes the AFS President-Elect, eight other persons with staggered two-year terms, and appointed AFS staff. Each AFS President shall appoint one member each from the Publications Overview Committee, the Meetings Oversight Committee, the Education Section, and the Computer Users Section. In addition, each AFS Division president shall appoint a single representative. Two Division and one Section representative shall serve staggered terms. Each AFS President shall designate a chair from within this committee other than the AFS President-Elect.

All members of this advisory board are voting members with the exception of the AFS staff.


  1. Provide guidance and strategic direction for the development, use, and maintenance of the AFS member-centric database.
  2. Provide guidance and strategic support for development of an integrated member-centric website as part of the AFS Web page.
  3. Continually monitor the AFS website to assess its attractiveness, information content, ease of use, appropriateness of linkages, and timeliness of information. Develop policies and recommendations to provide AFS staff with guidance on the AFS website and other electronic services regarding
    1. Content,
    2. Technical issues (e.g., quality control of information technology policies and procedures),
    3. Ethical and professional standards (e.g., advertising, accessibility, and copyright issues),
    4. Outsourcing (e.g., using Internet service providers versus self-hosting, using contractors),
    5. Promotion (e.g., increasing use by membership and general public, increasing search engine hits), and
    6. Education (e.g., providing technical guidance on websites, listservs, online voting, and other electronic services to Divisions, Sections, Chapters and other units).
  4. If the Board deems that immediate substantial changes are needed, these should be transmitted directly to the AFS President. If the Board deems that minor corrections to the Web pages are needed, these should be transmitted directly to the Executive Director and appropriate AFS staff for their attention.
  5. Review and advise the AFS President and Executive Director on new technological tools that may be available to enhance format and function of electric services of AFS membership.
  6. Provide a summary of assessments to the Governing Board for the Mid-Year and Annual meetings, and more frequently to the AFS President if appropriate.
  7. Review the five-year plan for the AFS website and draft a schedule to implement recommendations outlined in the plan that have not been previously implemented.

Operational Guidelines:

  1. ESAB will meet by conference call at least twice each year at the discretion of the Chair.
  2. The ESAB will have responsibility for organization and implementation of an IT workshop held each year at the AFS Annual Meeting to discuss developments in information technology and AFS electronic member services.

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Endangered Species Committee

Purpose: Provides leadership for the Society on issues affecting endangered species and their ecosystems. Committee provides technical assistance to all levels of the Society on issues concerning endangered species.

Composition: Includes the chair of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) Conservation Committee. Members must have specific expertise in one or more endangered taxa.

Duties: Specific duties and projects are assigned by the AFS President in consultation with the committee chair and usually relate to updating AFS lists of imperiled organisms in certain taxonomic groups for publication in an AFS outlet or developing new lists if they do not yet exist. Duties also include developing and updating imperiled organism databases to be available on the AFS website.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

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Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee

Purpose: Responsible for educating members about the Standards of Professional Conduct. Authorized body to review any cases regarding ethics forwarded by the AFS President.

Composition: The chair will be the longest-serving member of the committee. A new member shall be appointed by the AFS President each year to serve a five-year term and shall be selected from a broad spectrum of members to include representation from private, public, and academic employment sectors. Ex-officio member is the First Vice President.

Duties: The committee shall determine any procedures for evaluation of professional conduct, with special care to maintain a balanced and fair assessment. The committee shall maintain confidentiality with respect to all cases and is authorized to review the facts and findings of all prior ethics cases, where such cases may provide precedent or guidance to the committee in reaching a decision.

Operational Guidelines: The committee will review documentation, and solicit more as appropriate, regarding allegations of ethics violations. The committee will inform the accused about the nature of the complaint and the identity of the complainant, unless there is reason to believe that the complainant will be harmed by doing so. Communication with either the complainant or the accused may be necessary to secure required information.

After careful deliberation, the Committee will decide whether an ethics violation has occurred, and the committee chair will communicate the decision to the AFS President and the Executive Director. The AFS President will inform both the complainant and the accused regarding the outcome of the committee decision but is not required to reveal the name of the complainant to the accused.

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Fellows Selection Committee

Purpose: To evaluate the nominations of individuals submitted for consideration as AFS Fellows and to elect the most deserving nominees.

Composition: Six members serving staggered two-year terms. Members must be AFS Fellows who are also regular AFS members (defined as a nonstudent, dues-paying members or Life Members) and who have not served on the Fellows Selection Committee in the preceding five years. Each year, three new committee members will be appointed by the Awards Committee from among those who are eligible, and the Awards Committee chair will designate one of the continuing members as chair.

Duties: To evaluate nominees, to identify and recommend the selection of the new AFS Fellows each year, and to assure that the rules and procedures for nomination are clear.

Operational Guidelines: Committee business will generally be completed via email.

Eligibility criteria for nomination as an AFS Fellow are as follows:

  1. Any current regular member of AFS who has been a regular member of AFS for at least five consecutive years is eligible to be nominated to be an AFS Fellow. For these purposes, a regular member is defined as a nonstudent, dues-paying member or Life Member.
  2. A nominee is expected to have been a member of the profession for at least 15 years. This may be time since the PhD degree, but in cases where the PhD degree is not the terminal degree, it can be interpreted as after attaining the terminal degree.
  3. Demonstrated excellence of contributions to one or several of the following areas: (1) research and discovery; (2) communication and outreach, education, and pedagogy; (3) application of fisheries science to management and/or policy; (4) leadership and/or advancement of the profession.
  4. AFS Presidents will automatically become Fellows upon their procession to Past President, if they are not Fellows already.


Hutton Oversight Committee

Purpose: To oversee the Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program, a summer mentoring program for high school students designed to stimulate interest in careers in fisheries science and management among groups underrepresented in the fisheries professions.


  1. Members include the following:
    1. One (1) chair or two (2) co-chairs who is/are active AFS members appointed by the President within 30 days after the annual Society meeting unless otherwise specified, and their terms of duty extend to the end of the next Annual Meeting if not stipulated otherwise.
    2. An AFS staff member serves as the Hutton Program coordinator and supports the Hutton Oversight Committee.
    3. At least 15 committee members, additional members at large are welcome; all must be active members of the Society.
  2. Membership is based on an individual’s willingness to serve on the committee. Committee selections are made by the chair/co-chairs of the committee to provide at least one (1) person from each Division and meaningful inclusion of different ages, genders, races, regional distributions, and work backgrounds to have a diverse group of professionals providing their insights. Interested parties can volunteer to be on the committee at
  3. Subcommittees for special projects are formed as needed and may comprise of noncommittee members.
  4. Duration of term: indeterminate.
  5. The outgoing chair queries each member’s intent to continue to serve annually and provides a summary of all members to the incoming chair or co-chairs.

Duties: Hutton Oversight Committee members are expected to contribute to some or all of the following tasks throughout the year:

  1. Reviewing the application process and procedures and scoring application materials annually using the scoring rubric.
  2. Promoting and marketing the Hutton Program to a broad audience including internal AFS units and external entities.
  3. Increasing the reach (knowledge and awareness) of the Hutton Program to females and underrepresented communities, including Blacks or African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics or Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and Asians, as well as all gender identities.
  4. Providing recruitment, outreach, and support for Hutton Scholars and Hutton Mentors.
  5. Reviewing and ranking submitted student applications.
  6. Providing leadership to support program coordinator, mentors, and scholars through the internship experience and beyond (e.g., webinars, Hutton Scholar Summit, longitudinal surveys, and program evaluations.)
  7. Submitting mid-year and annual committee reports to the AFS President on time and in the prescribed format via the chair or co-chairs. Such reports include the committee’s activities, findings, and recommendations.
  8. Maintain complete and orderly files of committee correspondence and action for transmission to the incoming chair or co-chairs, where appropriate. This should include memos to the files describing any new procedures or modifications used during the year.
  9. Acting as advocates for the program.
  10. Suggesting funding opportunities or conducting outreach to secure individual gifts to the program.

Operational Guidelines:

  1. Applications are open around mid-October each year.
  2. The application period closes around mid-February of the following year.
  3. Hutton Scholar applications are scored using a grading rubric to standardize ranking of applications during March.
  4. Applications include a statement of interest, two essay questions, student transcripts, and a letter of reference.
  5. Reviewers must be AFS members in good standing.
  6. Reviewers, committee members, and additional volunteers read and score submitted Hutton Scholar applications prior to selection conference calls in April. When there are many applications (200+), the scores are used as a first cut for limiting the selection process discussions. Selection is not based on scores alone. Reviewers can discuss and potentially place standout applicants based on factors other than scores.
  7. Selection of scholars can be dictated by funding sources (e.g. donor or grant specified). Open funding can place scholars anywhere there is a paired mentor. If an exceptional scholar is selected but no mentors applied in that geographical location, mentors will be solicited. In the event a mentor cannot be located, an alternate scholar will be selected.
  8. Providing leadership to support the program coordinator, scholars, and mentors can vary year to year depending on the needs.
    1. The committee serves as a sounding board and decision maker for ideas and questions from the program coordinator.
    2. Support of the program coordinator and Hutton Scholars during their internships includes placing them with mentors, providing informational webinars, and/or implementing a pen-pal program with early-career professionals to create bonds to undergraduates and graduate students.
    3. Scholar and mentor recruitment materials (digital and hardcopy) are available to anyone for promoting and recruiting participation in the program.
    4. Webinars are available online and a mentor toolbox is located on the website (
    5. Hosting an annual Hutton Scholar Summit includes securing a location and funding to afford travel, meals. and lodging for scholars and participants. The committee works to expand the current consortium of universities in partnership with the Hutton Scholar program, initially led by Virginia Tech in 2021. There is potential to grow the summit by expanding the model to other regions.
  9. Promoting and marketing is spearheaded by AFS staff members encouraging and creating social media (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and news media promotions and in-person presentations at unit and committee meetings, as well as keeping up to date.
  10. Advocacy for the Hutton Scholar Program includes presenting and speaking at AFS unit and committee meetings, places of employment, and local, region, and national organizations, if appropriate, to help spread awareness of the scholarship opportunity in places where suitable candidates for scholars and mentors can be found. Writing blogs, newsletters, magazine articles, or social media posts to spread awareness of the opportunity. In addition, advocates can help solicit financial support and gifts for the Hutton Program or make recommendations to AFS staff about potential funding sources.


Purpose: Liaisons enhance communication and cooperation between the Society and allied professional societies, councils, federations and boards.

Composition: Number as determined by the AFS President, appointed to a one-year term.


  1. Serve an important role in representing the mission, activities, policies, and concerns of the Society to the boards and members of other organizations.
  2. Establish and maintain communication between the Society and the allied organizations for mutual understanding and cooperation.
  3. Communicate with AFS officers and unit leaders (Section presidents and committee chairs) about relevant activities and commitments of the allied organizations.
  4. Provide a report for the Annual Meeting about activities that occurred between the Society and the allied organization during their year in service.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

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Meeting Oversight Committee

Purpose: Provides overall meetings review for the Society to ensure coherent planning and development of Society and unit meetings. (Article IX 2. L)

Composition: Seven AFS members, including the AFS First Vice President. If review of Topic- oriented meetings (TOMs) becomes a considerable task, the committee chair may request the AFS President to appoint a TOMs subcommittee of an additional four members.

Duties: The committee will provide guidance to AFS on how to improve efforts to attain Society goals (e.g., member services, information transfer and outreach, aquatic stewardship) through Society and unit meetings. The committee will formulate broad AFS meeting objectives and procedures to ensure that the Annual Meeting is a meaningful gathering and consider the extent to which AFS should be involved actively in other types of meetings apart from the Annual Meeting (e.g., TOMs). The committee will develop ideas regarding meeting-related elements in the overall AFS Strategic Plan and work with the AFS Strategic Planning Committee to incorporate its recommendations into the AFS Strategic Plan. Other duties may be assigned to the committee by the AFS President as needed.

The Committee will also review and, if warranted, approve TOMs submitted by AFS Divisions, Sections, Chapters, or individual members. The committee will approve or reject each proposal based on scientific merit, general appeal, and timeliness of the topic. The committee may solicit comments from experts to assist in the review. Once approved, the proposal would be submitted to the AFS Executive Director to determine the extent of AFS financial support for the TOM. The committee will publicize by e-mail, the AFS website, articles in Fisheries, and so forth the opportunity for AFS members to submit TOMs proposals. In addition, the committee will maintain contact with appropriate committees or individuals in other fisheries societies worldwide and international organizations with fisheries interests to stimulate joint sponsorship of TOMs, particularly at international locations.

Operational Guidelines: None specified, except that a subcommittee to deal with TOMs may be requested in the future.

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Membership Committee

Purpose: Maintain or increase Society membership and recommend appropriate measures to attract new members and retain existing members. Monitor attitudes of members toward the Society by means of surveys, correspondence, and other avenues of communication. Recommend programs to address membership professional needs and problems.

Composition: Up to nine members with staggered two-year terms, half of whom are appointed by each new AFS President, who designates the chair from among the committee. Members will include the AFS First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, President-Elect, and chairs of Division membership committees.


  1. Through periodic revision and annual implementation of the Membership Recruitment and Retention Plan, institute activities to retain and increase AFS membership, working with the Governing Board and AFS staff as needed for policy approval and program implementation, respectively.
  2. Consult with previous year’s Committee in order to continue projects in progress and to assess likely new projects.
  3. Coordinate activities with the Membership Coordinator and the Executive Director, especially regarding mailings and notices in Fisheries.
  4. Coordinate activities with Division and other unit membership committees to maximize benefits of all membership committee efforts.
  5. Contact presidents of units and chairs of Society committees to determine current membership concerns.
  6. Contact the Executive Director and Society officers regularly to determine if new or continuing membership concerns have developed or intensified. Identify appropriate units or officers who can address concerns noted by members and ensure necessary contacts are made for follow-up.
  7. Contact related natural resource societies to anticipate emerging membership concerns; design and perform activities to gather data relative to those concerns.
  8. Every 3–5 years as deemed necessary by the Executive Director and the officers, design and perform or oversee surveys that determine the extent and specific nature of identified concerns. Cooperate with other AFS units in their survey designs to ensure that membership concerns are adequately addressed. Contract surveys with approval of the Executive Director.
  9. Recommend to the Governing Board changes in AFS structure, operation, and programs to improve membership satisfaction.
  10. Develop direction and agenda for the AFS Strategic Plan.

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Names of Aquatic Invertebrates Committee

Purpose: Reviews matters pertaining to the common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates; prepares checklists of names to achieve uniformity and avoid confusion in nomenclature; coordinates its activities with those of other organizations worldwide. Chair is the custodian of the master checklists.

Composition: Chair plus any number of others, as deemed appropriate by the chair, who are specialists in invertebrate taxonomy and nomenclature.


  1. Chair maintains master file of common and scientific names of invertebrates.
  2. Prepares and updates AFS publications on common and scientific names of invertebrates.
  3. Monitors the scientific literature to determine needs for changes, clarifications, or systematic revisions of names or naming systems of invertebrates.
  4. Provides advice to AFS members and units regarding invertebrate name problems.
  5. Coordinates activities with similar organizations worldwide and with the Names of Fishes Committee.
  6. Develops implementing direction and agenda for the AFS Strategic Plan.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time

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Names of Fishes Committee

Purpose: Reviews matters pertaining to the common and scientific names of fishes; prepares checklists of names to achieve uniformity and avoid confusion in nomenclature; coordinates its activities with those of other ichthyological organizations worldwide. This is a joint committee with the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH). Committee members are jointly appointed by AFS and ASIH. The chair serves as custodian of the master checklist.

Composition: Chair and six others who are specialists in systematic ichthyology and fisheries biology and members come from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


  1. Chair maintains file of master lists of common and scientific names of fishes.
  2. Typically once a decade, prepares and updates the AFS publication on common and scientific names of fishes.
  3. Monitors the scientific literature to determine need for changes, clarifications, or systematic revisions of names or naming systems of fishes.
  4. Provides advice to AFS staff, members, and units regarding relevant name problems.
  5. Coordinates activities with those of other ichthyological organizations worldwide and with the Names of Aquatic Invertebrates Committee.
  6. Develops implementing direction and agenda for the AFS Strategic Plan.

Operational Guidelines: The committee meets with its advisory committee at each annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. In addition, two dedicated committee meetings of several days’ length are required, about 3 years and 1 year before manuscript submission.

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New Initiatives Coordinator

Purpose: Assists the Governing Board, officers, and the Executive Director with solicitation and selection of strategic projects that enhance member and unit services while advancing the major goals and mission of the AFS.

Composition: One person appointed from among the Management Committee members by the President in consultation with the Management Committee to serve for a one-year term.

Duties: The coordinator considers proposals and may request clarification or merging of two or more initiatives that are similar. The coordinator prepares a list of proposed initiatives and presents the list, along with accompanying proposals, to the AFS officers and Executive Director, no less than three weeks prior to the Mid-Year Meeting.

Operational Guidelines:

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Nominating Committee

Purpose: Prepares a slate of candidates for the Society offices of Second Vice President, First Vice President, and President-Elect according to procedures approved by the Governing Board. It must name at least two candidates for Second Vice President.

Composition: Eleven members as follows: chair and vice chair, appointed by the AFS President; one person selected by each Division (four in total); four persons elected by the Governing Board, including one student member; and the Immediate Past President of the Society. Members elected by the Governing Board shall serve for two-year terms, with two individuals selected annually. The vice chair will serve as chair in the second year of service. Each of the four Division presidents should inform the incoming AFS President of the name of the Division’s selected representative to the Nominating Committee prior to the Annual Meeting. The newly installed AFS President needs to have those names so they can be eliminated from consideration when the Governing Board selects its four members to the Nominating Committee during the Incoming Governing Board Meeting, held following the annual Business Meeting.

Duties: The chair of the Nominating Committee shall direct the nomination and voting procedure and tally the votes as outlined in the following steps. In order to comply with the specific and rigid timelines detailed in these Procedures, the chair must contact the committee immediately after the AFS Annual Meeting and hold committee members to the timetable.

  1. All 11 members of the committee, including the chair, may nominate one or two candidates for Second Vice President. Accordingly, the number of candidates in any given year may be as many as 22.
  2. Each committee member shall vote on five of the candidates by assigning five points to the first preference, four points for second choice, and so forth—one point for fifth choice. The chair may vote only if their signed ballot is mailed to the AFS President at the same time that ballots are mailed to the other Nominating Committee members.
  3. Votes will be evaluated by the chair, who determines the top two candidates on the basis of the highest point total.
  4. Total point ties for first and second, or second and third positions, go to the candidate with the greatest number of first-place votes (5s). If a tie cannot be resolved by this procedure, then a second vote will be required. In this case, only the tied candidates are voted upon. If there is still a tie after the second vote, the AFS President will cast the tie-breaking vote.
  5. Written results of the nomination and vote, including the ballots, shall be forwarded to the Executive Director or the AFS President for audit as soon as the two candidates for Second Vice President have been determined by vote. The Executive Director and the AFS President shall review the results before they are announced.
  6. The candidate in third place following the vote of the committee and the candidate in second place after the general membership vote for Second Vice President shall automatically be considered possible nominees by the Nominating Committee for the following year. This last stipulation mandates forwarding the names and biographical information of those individuals to the vice chair.
  7. This is a confidential process; committee members may not discuss the individuals on the list or the rankings with anyone other than other committee members.

Operational Guidelines:

The duties are to be implemented as follows. With the consent of all committee members, all written materials, including ballots, may be exchanged among committee members electronically.

  1. A biographical sketch (background), some comments on the state of the Society (AFS involvement), and some steps that might be undertaken as AFS President to address major issues (vision statement) should be prepared by each candidate and forwarded by November 15 to the member of the committee advancing the candidate’s name for consideration. The statement should be no more than two type-written pages. Each committee member shall inform their candidate(s) that the committee does not encourage or appreciate receiving any additional vote solicitation contact or information.
  2. Each committee member should submit the name(s) of their candidate(s), the biographical sketches, and comments to the chair by November 20.
  3. The biographical sketches and comments by Nominating Committee members for all candidates will be forwarded with a ballot to all members of the committee by December 1.
  4. Ballots should be returned to the chair by December 15. The committee chair will communicate the results to the President and Executive Director immediately.
  5. The committee chair shall notify the first- and second-ranked candidates as soon as they have been informed by the AFS President or Executive Director that they have audited the committee chair’s tally of the votes and have approved. The committee chair shall let the remaining candidates know who placed first, second, and third and will forward the third-ranked candidate’s file to the vice chair.
  6. When notifying the winning candidates, the chair will request that they update or revise, if they wish, their biographical sketches and vision statements for AFS and send them to the chair with a photograph by January 5.
  7. The chair will forward these materials to the editor of Fisheries so that the nominees can be announced before election ballots are sent to the AFS membership. This will allow sufficient time for possible nominations by petition.
  8. Following the election, the committee chair will forward the unsuccessful candidate’s file to the vice chair.

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Past Constitutional Consultant’s Advisory Council

Purpose: Advises Constitutional Consultant and the Executive Director on matters of parliamentary procedure. Serves as a source of AFS history and practices about past Society function and structure. Identifies potential candidates for the Apprentice Constitutional Consultant. (Article IX 2. R)

Composition: All living past AFS Constitutional Consultants. The Immediate Past Constitutional Consultant serves as chair and may assume the duties of the Constitutional Consultant, if that person is absent or unable to act.

Duties: Provides advice and support to the Constitutional Consultant by researching issues of parliamentary procedure, drafting amendments and guidance documents, providing training, and other supportive functions as requested by the Constitutional Consultant, President, Executive Director, or other AFS leaders.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

Past Presidents’ Advisory Council

Purpose: Advises the Governing Board and the Executive Director on matters of mutual interest. (See Rules 14[b][xxi])

Composition: All living AFS Past Presidents. The chair and vice chair of the Past Presidents’ Advisory Council (PPAC) are elected biannually by the PPAC members and are installed at the AFS Annual Meeting. There is no limit on the number of consecutive terms the chair and vice chair may serve.


Advises the AFS officers, Executive Director, Governing Board, and Management Committee on matters of AFS policy and procedures.

Solicits nominations and selects the winners of the President’s Fishery Conservation Award and William E. Ricker Resource Conservation Award and administers the Retired Members Travel Award to the AFS Annual Meeting.

Serves as a source of AFS history and practices about past Society activities.

Identifies ways or develops an organizational structure for greater participation for retirees.

Identifies candidates for honorary membership in the Society.

May partake in special projects as assigned by the AFS President.

Operational Guidelines: See the “SOCIETY AWARDS” section for details on the above-mentioned awards.

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Professional Development Committee

Purpose: The Professional Development Committee (PDC) assesses the continuing educational and training needs of the fisheries profession and works in close coordination with the American Fisheries Society’s (AFS) Chapters, Sections, and Divisions to develop and administer a comprehensive professional development program.

Composition: Chair, appointed by the AFS President, plus any number of others, as deemed appropriate by the chair. Recommended membership includes a representative from each of the AFS Divisions as well as representatives from other societies, as appropriate. The inclusion of a co-chair is encouraged to maintain institutional knowledge and to distribute the workload.

Duties: The PDC sets criteria and guidelines to ensure appropriate quality control of all professional development activities sponsored by AFS. All professional development activities sponsored at Society-level events must be approved by the PDC. American Fishery Society units may request assistance from the PDC for activities conducted at other venues. Requests for professional development credit for courses are handled by this committee. The PDC develops a slate of courses for the Annual Meeting along with the local planning committee. The committee develops and implements direction and agenda for items related to its charge within the AFS Strategic Plan and helps facilitate communication among AFS units with interests and experience in offering professional development courses. The PDC maintains a database of courses held by AFS units that is shared among the units to facilitate replication of successful courses. (For related information, see information in “OPERATIONAL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES” section.)

Operational Guidelines: Most activities conducted by the PDC are done electronically, mainly through e-mail correspondence and occasionally through conference calls or virtual meetings, if necessary and/or to increase the level of coordination and consistency of the PDC. Rarely is an in-person meeting necessary for the PDC to conduct its business. In addition, when needed, the PDC can vote on application deadline extensions and other relevant procedural exceptions to ensure that an appropriate suite of quality professional development courses is available to membership for the year. All changes will be proposed by the chair and voted on by the PDC. Approval for outstanding requests will be granted if approved by a simple majority. If a course is deemed ineligible for professional development credits, the PDC will decide whether an alternative venue is available for the course.

National Education Partnership Procedures: When applicable, the PDC can consider partnerships with extrinsic organizations, such as educational organizations; universities and university education programs; and state, local, and federal fisheries education initiatives. When such an opportunity arises, it is then the duty of the chair(s) to present a summary of the request and/or information and opportunity to the PDC for review and approval. If/when the PDC agrees by a simple majority to move forward on the consideration of such an opportunity, the chair(s) will then contact AFS leadership to present the opportunity, including a concise summary detailing the potential benefits to the organization and AFS membership. The PDC will work with AFS leadership to develop a plan to move forward on consideration of the partnership with the national AFS organization (usually through a vote by the Governing Board). Such opportunities for extrinsic partnerships will be handled on a case-by-case basis and will always require (1) AFS PDC review and approval and (2) AFS leadership and Governing Board review and approval before any formal agreements and sponsorships can be handled. In addition, once approved, it will be the responsibility of the chair(s) to draft an agreeable memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the partnering organization, which will then also need to be reviewed and approved by AFS leadership before any formal/final agreements and signatures can be rendered.

Program Committee

Purpose: Assembles and administers the program for the annual Society meeting. The chair is selected four years in advance. (See Article III.1.C.iv in Constitution).

Composition: Chair plus an indefinite number of others as desired by the AFS President and the chair, appointed to one-year terms. Also, there should be three others who have been designated by successive Second Vice-Presidents and who will chair the committee in succeeding years, thus serving a four-year term. The President-Elect is a member.


  1. Plans, develops, and administers the technical program
  2. Records all changes and improvements in the Procedures and forward to the next year’s chair and Society headquarters.
  3. Develops implementing direction and agenda for the AFS Strategic Plan

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time

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Publications Award Committee
(See also Awards section of Procedures)

Purpose: The committee evaluates articles and notes published in the five American Fisheries Society scientific journals for the preceding year to select the best paper published in each journal for respective awards. The five annual awards are as follows:

  1. The Robert L. Kendall Award for the Best Paper in the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society.
  2. The Mercer H. Patriarche Best Paper Award for the North American Journal of Fisheries Management.
  3. The Best Paper in the North American Journal of Aquaculture.
  4. The Best Paper in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health.
  5. The Best Paper in Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science.

Composition: The committee is composed of five subcommittees, one for each journal and award. Committee membership consists of the committee chair, five subcommittee chairs, and a minimum of five additional members of each subcommittee. Committee chair is appointed by the AFS President, subcommittee chairs are appointed by the AFS President in consultation with the committee chair, and subcommittee members are appointed by the AFS President in consultation with the committee chair and respective subcommittee chairs. Committee membership is selected to reflect diversity in demography, geography, and expertise.


  1. Committee chair solicits participation and recommends subcommittee chairs to AFS President for appointment. Subcommittee chairs solicit participation and recommend subcommittee members to the committee chair and AFS President for appointment.
  2. Committee chair provides subcommittee chairs with guidance on subcommittee member selection and procedures to evaluate papers. In general, paper evaluation will consist of a two-stage process of review and ranking, with each subcommittee member evaluating all papers published in the applicable volume. The first round of evaluation and subsequent voting is designed to select a subset of finalist papers to be reconsidered as the best paper. The second round of voting will select the best paper from that subset determined in the first round. Procedural details may vary among years, as developed and refined by the committee chair with suggestions from subcommittee chairs but should be consistent among subcommittees within a year.
  3. Subcommittee chairs will provide their subcommittee’s best paper selection to the committee chair, who will compile results and forward to the AFS President. Upon approval from the AFS President, the committee chair or AFS President will notify award recipients of their honor. Committee members will receive letters of acknowledgment and gratitude from the subcommittee chairs, committee chair, or the AFS President. Best papers and award recipients should be selected well in advance of 60 days before the Annual Meeting to allow adequate time for award preparation and announcements.

Operational Guidelines:

Criteria for the Best Paper Award for AFS Journals

  1. As a minimum, the paper should satisfy the basic concerns as established in the Guide for Reviewers for Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Some of those are summarized as follows:
    1. Is the paper understandable, scientifically sound, and technically reliable?
    2. Are the statistical tests, if any, appropriate for the data and correctly applied?
    3. Are the conclusions adequately supported by the data?
    4. Is the contribution sufficiently integrated with existing knowledge?
  2. If the paper reports experimental work, it should indicate that the study had a clear objective or hypothesis that was rigorously tested and was well planned and methodically executed. Consideration should be given to studies that show creative original design or present new approaches for solving problems associated with fish biology.
  3. If the paper is descriptive in nature (for example, of a disease process or a previously unknown phenomenon), it should cover the subject thoroughly and in a clear, concise, logical manner.
  4. If a review paper, the article should cover the literature completely and objectively and represent a critical, up-to-date synthesis of the subject.
  5. If there are alternative explanations for results or conclusions presented, those arguments should be adequately addressed in the paper.
  6. The paper should hold the interest of specialists in the particular field as well as being clearly understandable and interesting for a general fisheries audience and other members of the scientific community. In that context, both content and presentation are important considerations.
  7. The length of the paper should be sufficient to reflect the extent of work involved and discuss the results thoroughly, but not be overly repetitive or too long. Length itself should not be a criterion.

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Publications Overview Committee

Purpose: Provides overall publication and editorial review for the Society to ensure coherent planning and development of Society and unit publication programs.

Composition: At least nine persons with staggered three-year terms, at least three of whom shall be appointed by each new AFS President, who shall also designate the chair from among the whole committee; the Publications Director is a nonvoting member and the President-Elect is a voting member.


  1. Monitors publication activities and decisions to ensure conformance with established practices and policies.
  2. Evaluates current and proposed practices and policies; reports evaluation to the Governing Board, Executive Director, and Publications Director as appropriate.
  3. Interprets editorial and publication policies and practices at the request of AFS members and staff.
  4. Assists the Publications Director in the administration of the publications functions of the Society.
  5. Anticipates publication and editorial concerns of the profession and Society; performs necessary activities to gather data or opinions as the basis for anticipated changes in publication or editorial functions.

Operational Guidelines:

Ethical Guidelines for Publication of Fisheries Research

At the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2000, the Governing Board approved the first Guidelines for Authorship developed by the Publications Overview Committee (POC) under the leadership of Mary Fabrizio. The stated purpose was to “assist AFS members in determining authorship of scholarly documents intended for presentation, publication, or other dissemination. Such documents include manuscripts intended for publication in the peer-reviewed literature, reports, and visual aids used to illustrate oral presentations at professional meetings.” These standards focused entirely on what kinds of activities do or do not qualify one for authorship, the order of authors, and acknowledgment of assistance that did not rise to the level of authorship. This was a necessary “first step” in establishing minimum standards for quality scholarship in American Fisheries Society journals.
Despite being a major step forward, the original guidelines for authorship did not address other important issues, such as clear statements against unscholarly practices such as plagiarism. It also did not address more challenging and nuanced decisions, such as when and if to include deceased persons as authors. There is no clear statement on other ethical matters, such as dual publication and use of living animals as research subjects. Finally, the document focused entirely on the role of authors in the publication process. Our Society’s publications process relies on volunteers as editors, associate editors, and reviewers, each of which has a critical role to play in the integrity of the overall publications process. Each acts as a “check and balance” on one another throughout the publication process.

This revision of the American Fisheries Society Guidelines for Publication of Fisheries Research seeks to re-affirm the principles set forth in the original document and augment it with additional guidelines on roles and responsibilities not covered in the original document. Some of the material is taken verbatim or with minimal wordsmithing from the original document, and the authors of this document gratefully acknowledge the work of our predecessors. It is organized in sections for each step in the publication process: editors and associate editors; authors; and reviewers. It also includes principles that apply in general to publications regardless of role. The structure and some of the content of this document is reprinted in part with permission from “Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research,” Copyright 1985, 1989, 1995, 2001, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2015 American Chemical Society (ACS) and with the expressed permission of ACS. The members of the POC are grateful for the generosity of our colleagues at ACS for this assistance.

Roles and Guiding Principles

Authorship confers credit to the individuals involved in a study. With credit comes responsibility. Thus, every coauthor must contribute meaningfully to the overall success of the research conducted and its communication. Every author should strive to ensure their research is presented accurately, succinctly, and completely with sufficient information to permit scientists with similar training and ability and with access to the same or similar data to reproduce the methods and hence, potentially, the results. Every author should be willing to accept and address criticisms of the manuscript by readers, reviewers, and editors. Anyone who does not meet these criteria has not earned authorship.

In general terms, the stages of publication are proposing the research (conception of the question or hypotheses, development of study objectives, experimental, and statistical design), data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and preparing the manuscript (writing, reviewing, and editing). Funding, while absolutely necessary for conducting research, is not part of the publication process; hence, securing of funding or administering funding do not qualify one for authorship. Each author should make two or more significant contributions. Persons whose sole contribution to the investigation consists of conducting routine laboratory analyses or data collection (i.e., performing technical tasks using prescribed standard operating procedures; preparation of graphics) have not earned authorship; such work warrants an acknowledgment. Exceptions may occur when considering the contribution of an individual who has developed a data set over exceptionally long periods of time (for example, such individuals have a unique perspective on their data that may be necessary for proper interpretation). Similarly, when the manuscript is prepared, an author is expected to make substantive comments, not simply editing grammar or punctuation. Examples describing the level of conceptual involvement or technical participation required for authors are given in Day (1998; Chapter 5 in How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 5th edition. Oryx Press).

Determining the number and sequence of names on the title page of a paper is an ethical decision involving fairness and trust: fairness in properly representing each person’s contribution to the study and trust in accurately portraying the responsibility of each author for all or part of the work. Both are compromised when colleagues whose contributions merit recognition are overlooked (not giving credit where credit is due) or when colleagues whose contributions are minor are granted authorship status (gratuitous authorship). Ultimately, authorship and the ordering of names in a byline is the joint decision of the research team members. Although discussion of authorship and ordering of the byline with potential coauthors before the investigation begins is a valuable step, roles and responsibilities may change, requiring reconsideration of order of authorship or even if authorship has been earned (i.e., if a previously identified “author” fails to participate in their anticipated role). Before, during, and after writing begins, each author must reassess their role and contribution to ensure the final suite of authors fairly and accurately represents contributions. When submitting a manuscript for publication, every author must consent to the submission of the manuscript and affirm that they are willing to take responsibility for the work.

Occasionally, researchers die unexpectedly or become mentally disabled during the conduct of research and prior to submission of manuscripts. In such cases, such individuals will not be able to consent to submission, which is a necessary step for earning authorship. Furthermore, deceased and mentally disabled persons cannot be held accountable for research after it is published, which is a critical element of the research and publication process at its coarsest scale, and cannot benefit from credit for the work in terms of recognition. For these reasons, the American Fisheries Society discourages inclusion of individuals as authors when they died or became mentally disabled prior to submission of the manuscript. In most cases, deceased or mentally disabled persons who contributed materially to the conduct of research are to be acknowledged when submission occurs prior to death. The American Fisheries Society does not preclude inclusion of deceased authors when death occurred after submission.

Although all of the principles and guidelines presented here are intended to apply specifically to AFS journals, they can be viewed as broadly applicable to publication in the fisheries literature as a whole. They can also be viewed as applying to publication for nonprofessional audiences. In many cases, the language used to communicate to a lay audience differs, but the core principles of quality and integrity apply regardless of publication medium.

Editors and Associate Editors
The American Fisheries Society uses a two-tiered editorial structure with a small number of editors (2–3 per journal) and associate editors (or subject or science editors, 11–25 per journal). Editors and subject editors have ultimate responsibility for the content of American Fisheries Society journals. The role of AFS editors is primarily strategic; it includes assessing the general suitability of a manuscript for the journal to which it is submitted (i.e., is the subject matter of the manuscript consistent with the journal’s theme) and making the final decision on publication (i.e., is the manuscript scientifically and technically sound). Associate editors assist editors by providing expert opinion regarding general suitability of manuscripts. Their primary responsibility is recruiting and assigning reviewers and providing editors with a judgement on the suitability of a manuscript for publication. Both of these roles are critical to the integrity of the review process and to the quality of manuscripts published in AFS journals.

Reviewers are generally, but not necessarily, American Fisheries Society members. Reviewers are frequently authors of published works who have particular expertise and can evaluate the scientific merit of a submitted manuscript. Publication of AFS journals would not be possible without high-quality reviews. When invited to review, it is the responsibility of the reviewer to affirm that they are qualified to complete the review and can do so in the time frame specified by the associate editor. Because of the vital role of reviews in the scientific process, it is expected that American Fisheries Society members who are authors will also review manuscripts.

Authors, Editors/Associate Editors, and Reviewers
Timely publication of fisheries research is necessary to advancing our science, to management and conservation of fish and fisheries resources, and to the education of the public and future fisheries professionals. Delays in this process materially and negatively affect all of these outcomes. Actions by every person in every role in the publication process affect the timeliness of publications in American Fisheries Society journals. Delays in assigning reviewers, completing and submitting reviews, processing and collating reviewer comments, and responding to reviews increase time to publication; cumulative delays can reach into several weeks or even months. Every participant in the publication process must strive to ensure timely action.

Specific Guidelines

Authors must balance the competing needs to communicate relevant results in a timely manner with that of producing a comprehensive treatment of their research. American Fisheries Society discourages the “minimum publishable unit” approach and favors reporting results from a complete research project.

Authors are encouraged to assist editors and associate editors by recommending qualified reviewers for their submitted manuscripts. Authors may also request to exclude potential reviewers, for example, if they have already reviewed the manuscript or if there is a known conflict of interest). Authors should be aware that AFS journal editors are not obliged to exclude nonpreferred reviewers.

Federal agencies, many of whose employees are authors of AFS publications, now require data sets to be published prior to or concurrent with publication of research papers. As of this edition of American Fisheries Society Guidelines for Publication, data for publications authored or coauthored by Federal employees will be publicly available. Nonfederal authors who are not required to publish data sets are encouraged to make every effort to make data available to others when it is requested for scientific purposes.

Authors should cite publications that have been influential in any stage of the reported work (e.g., conception design, interpretation) and that will guide the reader quickly to research that is essential for understanding their research. Citations of works that readers cannot easily access (e.g., gray literature reports, personal communications) should be minimized. In the case of personal communications, records of email, phone calls, or other forms of communication must be retained and made available if requested. Authors are encouraged to cite the original work rather than a paper that references the original work. Doing so represents the highest level of scholarship, reduces previous citation errors, and avoids incorrect attributions.

Whenever fishes are used in experimentation or whenever fishes are captured alive during field work, authors will follow all applicable animal care and use standards. Also, where applicable, authors will report the protocol number of an Animal Care and Use Protocol, as approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. During manuscript submission, authors must confirm that all of their research meets the ethical guidelines and legal requirements of the country in which it was performed. The American Fisheries Society has developed the document “Guidelines for the Use of Fishes in Research,” which addresses both field and laboratory research with fish. A free version of this document is available for viewing and/or downloading at

Likewise, for human dimensions research, ethical guidelines for the use of human subjects in research will be followed and appropriate approvals must be reported from an Institutional Review Board or Institutional Biosafety Committee within the manuscript or acknowledgments. If hazardous chemicals are used (e.g., formalin), authors will disclose safety measures taken during the research. Authors are expected to follow all local, provincial/state, and federal guidelines for disposal of chemicals.

Submission of manuscripts describing the same or very similar research to more than one journal simultaneously (dual publication) is prohibited (see “Dual Publication of Scientific Information” in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 110:573–574, 1981). If there is the potential for a reader to interpret a manuscript as a dual publication, the editor should be made aware.
All authors must reveal to the editor(s) and within the manuscript all potential conflicts of interest, professionally or financially relevant to the research being reported. If there are no conflicts of interest this must be stated explicitly.

Plagiarism of one’s own (a form of dual publication) or others’ work is prohibited in American Fisheries Society journals. The American Fisheries Society follows the U.S. National Science Foundation definition of plagiarism as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit” (45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 689.1). The American Fisheries Society also uses the “reasonable person” standard when deciding whether a submission constitutes plagiarism/duplicate publication. Material quoted verbatim must be placed in quotation marks and include a page reference. All submissions to AFS journals are electronically screened for plagiarism. When submitting a paper, one stipulates that, except where explicitly indicated otherwise, all of the statements, data, and other elements reflect one’s own work and not that of others. All allusions to the work of others should be properly cited. Authors are also cautioned not to repeat long passages from their own previous publications. Failure to follow these requirements may result in rejection of the paper and, in extreme cases, restrictions on publishing in a journal.

Editors and Associate Editors
The content of manuscripts submitted for publication must be kept confidential throughout the review process to all persons external to the review process.
Editors and associate editors must afford all authors an unbiased review of their work without regard to characters or qualities unrelated to the work (age, ethnicity, gender identity, institutional affiliation, nationality, race, religion or lack thereof, seniority).

Editors and associate editors must make a good-faith effort to recruit competent reviewers for each and every manuscript. They are not obliged to include reviewers recommended by authors but must give them the same due consideration as any other potential reviewer. Editors are discouraged from inviting reviewers that authors requested not be considered unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

Editors and associate editors are responsible for ensuring a timely review process.

Decisions to accept or reject a manuscript must be made with full and careful consideration of all of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses. Editors may reject manuscripts that are poorly prepared (i.e., not ready for review) or lack substance (e.g., improper statistical tests, unjustified conclusions, plagiarism). In all cases, editors and associate editors must provide their reasoning for decisions. Editors must not make editorial comments anonymously and must be identified in all correspondence regarding reviews and decisions to accept/reject.

Editors and associate editors must avoid any and all potential conflicts of interest in the conduct of their duties. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: not serving as arbiters of their own work, not serving as arbiters of work of recent graduates if the manuscript is based on work that they supervised, and not serving as an arbiter if there is financial interest involved.

Persons invited to review must never agree to review a manuscript if they believe that they are not qualified to review. Qualified in this context does not mean that one is able to comment on all aspects of a manuscript. Associate editors frequently assign reviewers with different areas of expertise to assess particular aspects of a manuscript (e.g., statistical design, ecology, management perspective), and no one reviewer need possess expertise in all areas. Whenever a reviewer believes that they are unqualified to review, the invitee should respond promptly so that another reviewer can be invited.

Persons invited to review must decline to review if they have a conflict of interest. Such conflicts may be personal (i.e., personal relationship with an author of the manuscript; financial interest in a particular outcome) or professional (e.g., supervising the work of the author; involved in the determination of funding for the research reported in the manuscript).

Reviewers must provide a thorough, complete, and prompt review of all aspects of the work that they are qualified to review. Failure to consider relevant literature should be noted (but reviewers should be careful to not recommend citations of their own research disproportionately). Comments should be thoughtful and fully justified to assist the associate editor and editor in judging the merits of the manuscript. Comments provided by reviewers must be respectful, focus on the content and substance of the manuscript, and never be personal. Reviewers must strive to complete reviews in the time frame requested by the associate editor.

Reviewers must not disclose the content of a manuscript under review to anyone external to the review process.

Reviewers of American Fisheries Society manuscripts are anonymous by default, but reviewers may identity themselves by signing their review. The decision to disclose identity is at the discretion of the reviewer.

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Raffle Committee

Purpose: Administers the Society raffle at the Annual Meeting. The proceeds are to be divided as follows: 70% goes to the AFS Skinner Fund and 30% to the local unit hosting the raffle. If there is no local host, then 100% goes to the Skinner Fund.

Composition: The committee is composed of members of the local host unit.

Duties: Solicit prizes, recognize sponsors, organize and coordinate selling of tickets and publicity, conduct raffle at meeting, write thank-you letters to sponsors, and mail unclaimed prizes.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

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Resource Policy Committee

Purpose: The committee helps the Society evaluate, develop, and maintain fisheries policy by assessing concerns of the membership, advising the AFS President and Executive Director about aquatic resource issues, producing or coordinating proposed resource policy actions for Society approval, and reviewing approved actions to ensure usefulness.

Composition: Chair, vice-chair, and about 25 members appointed for staggered two-year terms. Membership is renewable for an additional two terms for a maximum total of six years. No more than 13 members should be replaced during any one calendar year. At least one member shall be from Canada or Mexico. Each AFS Section will be asked to designate one of its members as a delegate to the Resource Policy Committee (RPC), thereby providing a liaison from the committee to AFS expertise in Sections. The President-Elect shall be a voting member. The managing editor of Fisheries, Executive Director, and AFS Policy Director shall be nonvoting members. In alternate years, the incoming Society President appoints the vice-chair who shall serve for two years, followed by two years as the chair. The cycle can be adjusted if the President asks the current chair to serve an additional two-year term. The chair shall serve no more than two consecutive two-year terms but may return as a committee member or chair after a hiatus of at least one year. The combination of terms and roles is intended to provide opportunities for broad membership representation on the committee, including Section delegates and individual members.


  1. Guides the process to prepare Society positions according to “Protocol for Establishing American Fisheries Society Policy Statements” and “Guide for the Submission of AFS Policy Positions.”
  2. Coordinates with the Executive Director, AFS Policy Director, and other Society representatives to seek scientific analysis on important resource issues resulting in recommendations for guidance, approaches, or positions that AFS can endorse.
  3. Works with AFS staff and other AFS units to determine priorities, appropriate documents or actions, and identify audiences for the AFS to engage about AFS positions on resource issues.
  4. Assesses resource concerns of the membership and determines the need for developing documents or taking other actions.
  5. Invites suggestions from all AFS units on issues that could be addressed by AFS policy action.
  6. Recommends direction and agenda for the AFS Strategic Plan to make effective use of policy documents and actions.

Operational Guidelines:

See “Procedure for Developing and Advancing Resource Issues” and “Procedures for Developing and Advancing AFS Resource Policy Documents.”

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Vote Auditor

Purpose: Verifies voting results and/or counts the election ballots, transmits the results to the AFS President and/or Unit Officer and Executive Director within the designated number of days of the closing date of the vote or election, and announces the results at the annual Society meeting or as appropriate. The Vote Auditor sends electronic results and/or ballots to the

Executive Director, who shall hold them for at least 90 days after the close of the vote or election.

Composition: Vote Auditor and Co-Auditor are appointed by the AFS President for staggered two-year terms.


  1. Works with the AFS Officers or other unit leaders in the development of fair and equitable voting procedures designed to ensure that each member has an opportunity to vote confidentially and only once.
  2. Participates in the selection of services to provide electronic voting capabilities to the Society. Individual units may be responsible for their own voting services, as appropriate.
  3. May communicate with the service provider to obtain specific information on the process (e.g., adequate provisions for notification, accuracy, secrecy, equity, and qualification of voters).
  4. In the case of officer elections, works with the Executive Director to ensure that the ballot is prepared and transmitted to the membership in May, with a 30-day response period that typically closes at the end of June.
  5. Checks with electronic ballot service provider periodically to ensure that an election is running smoothly. As necessary, the Vote Auditor may count paper ballots received from members who do not have electronic access for voting.
  6. Verifies results within 30 days after the deadline for ballot returns.
  7. Transmits results to AFS President or appropriate unit officers and Executive Director immediately after verification or counting of votes.
  8. Protects confidentiality of these processes; results shall not be discussed with anyone other than the AFS President or appropriate unit officers and the Executive Director.

Operational Guidelines: None specified at this time.

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Page last updated July 5, 2016