Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Complex Dynamics of Leadership: Global Initiatives by American Fisheries Society Networkers Half a Century Ago

Henry A. Regier

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch37

I’m grateful to have been accepted as a fellow networker by many peers in the American Fisheries Society (AFS) network for more than six decades. A droll comment by Mahatma Gandhi may be appropriate as it relates to leadership during my term of office as an AFS president: “There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

After serving AFS in a number of roles, I served as president in 1978–1979, more than four decades ago. Following retirement from my day job as professor at the University of Toronto in 1995, my direct involvement in AFS activities waned because of my intensifying deafness and because I was my spouse Lynn’s primary care giver during her long terminal illness. Lynn’s and my last joint project was to continue with the rewilding of a gravel pit that had once been a trout stream in a cedar swale; mink, wild turkey, bittern, and ladyslipper orchids had returned by the time we left it in 2010.

To prepare this vignette, I reviewed historical and recent information about AFS readily accessible on the Internet. I infer that AFS has been progressing in ways consistent with what I experienced decades earlier. So I note that the 2015–2019 strategic plan refers to five “new challenges,” including climate change and ecosystem-based management. With peers who have also served as presidents of AFS, I became involved with these two “new challenges” about five decades ago, as sketched heuristically below. That strategic plan alludes implicitly to gender equity and adaptive management as continuing issues. I note my participation as a “learner” with Tracy Dobson, Mike Jones, Jim Bence, and Bill Taylor of Michigan State University on those themes.

During recent years, I have been exploring a notion that, during the 19th and 20th centuries, a self-organizing Great Laurentian Basin Network of Fisheries Researchers shared a responsible commitment to applied pragmatic science (Regier 2019). I perceived that pragmatic science and relevant science-based fisheries policies composed a complex self-organizing, centuries-long happening, with some features that came unpredicted into the researchers’ awareness. Occasionally, in the work of such researchers, they may implicitly have followed sage advice attributed to Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”