Types of Units and Formation

What is an AFS Unit?

Units are subgroups of AFS members who share common interests, either because of geographic location, institutional affiliation, involvement in specific fisheries disciplines, etc. AFS Units include Divisions, Chapters, Sections, and Student Subunits. Units are authorized by the Society’s Governing Board if the Unit seems likely to provide a worthwhile and long-term service to the Society. Units differ from Society committees in that they aren’t charged annually with specific tasks related to Society business and membership is determined by an individual’s professional interest, location of residence (in the case of Divisions) or choice to join, not appointment.


Divisions are geographically defined Units intended to advance the Society’s objectives over broad regions. The purpose of Division Units is to facilitate communication among members in that geographic region, promote technical communications relevant to that geographic region, and represent that geographic region’s members in interactions with AFS and the public. Each Division also contains many Chapters and Student Subunits. When you become a member of AFS, you are automatically placed in a Division based on your geographic location of residence. Note that members can request inclusion in other Divisions by corresponding with the AFS Executive Director, but this request is largely an issue for international members living outside North America and the defined Divisional boundaries. Divisions typically host at least one meeting annually, sometimes in conjunction with other meetings such as the AFS Annual Meeting, Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting, or Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.

A current list of Divisions and their boundaries is located at http://fisheries.org/about/Units/divisions.

Chapters and Student Subunits

Chapters are geographically defined Units intended to advance the Society’s objectives over more localized areas than Divisions. Chapters bring local fisheries scientists together to facilitate communication at a lower geographic level. Chapter membership is extremely valuable in bringing together fisheries professionals from the same state, province or other geographic region within a Division. Chapters typically host one meeting annually, and these meetings convey information directly relevant to attendees because of the localized nature of the Chapter.

Student Subunits are defined by academic institutions and are maintained under the auspices of Chapters. They are intended to advance the Society’s objectives through involvement of student members at the level of colleges and universities.

A current list of Chapters and their Student Subunits is located at http://fisheries.org/about/Units/chapters/.


Sections are Units defined by professional interests, and are intended to advance the Society’s objectives within the various disciplines of fisheries science and practice. Sections also serve to bring together common expertise from a variety of areas of interest, not all of which may be fisheries-related (e.g., needs and interests in genetics, technology, education, etc., are largely common throughout natural resources and other fields of science). Unlike other Units, Sections have no geographic or institutional boundaries. Some Sections host or co-host their own meetings, independent of AFS meetings, but most conduct their business in conjunction with the AFS Annual Meeting.

A current list of Sections is located at http://fisheries.org/about/Units/sections/.


The Society and its Units have various standing and special committees that are responsible for conducting much of the Society’s business. See Unit Committees and Volunteers for more information about committees and how they function. Also, the list of Society-level standing and special committees (http://fisheries.org/about/committees/) may be a useful source of expertise and ideas for Unit leaders.