2021 Virtual Meeting Summary

Written by Jamie Roberts and Rebecca Brown

This past year certainly saw its share of ups and downs, and yet, plenty of great fisheries science and management was achieved throughout the Peach State, which we wanted to highlight through our 2021 virtual annual meeting.  Our meeting theme, “Celebrating Georgia’s Aquatic Diversity,” provided an opportunity to highlight and celebrate not only our richly diverse fishes and aquatic resources but also the resilience of our fisheries biologists, technicians, teachers, students, researchers, and support staff, and the all-important relationships that knit our profession and our Chapter and Society together.

As always, our annual meeting would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of a number of chapter officers, committee chairs and members, and other volunteers, as well as the generosity of our financial sponsors Georgia Power, Georgia Southern University, Lake Specialist, and the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. Although things looked and felt a bit different than what we are accustomed to, the Zoom format also had some silver linings worth noting.  For one thing, the format made our meeting accessible to out-of-state and even international attendees and presenters. Because of the reduced meetings costs, we were able to provide free registration to students, which we hoped would create some great learning opportunities and also help reach and grow future Chapter members.  Despite the virtual format, we managed to keep traditional meeting favorites alive, including the awards ceremony, Fellowship of Christian Conservationists meeting, and fundraising events, in addition to some new events such as a keynote speaker, an online trivia contest, and a lunch-and-learn educational session.

The 2021 virtual meeting was attended by around 180 fisheries professionals and students from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Sri Lanka.  The program included 33 oral presentations, 15 of which were by students, as well as 4 poster presentations.  We featured a symposium on Georgia’s Aquatic Connectivity, led by Dr. Jay Shelton of UGA.  Our diversity of presentations included the use of robotics to model fish detection ranges at coastal reefs, using palmyra fruit pulp to improve fish feed, identification of organic contaminants in thresher sharks, an update on the aquatic biodiversity of the Upper Coosa, information about the new red drum high-reward tagging study in coastal Georgia, an habitat selection in darters and freshwater mussels.  The complete program with abstracts can be found on our Chapter’s website: https://gaafs.org/2021-annual-meeting/

Piper Rackley is an undergraduate biology student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is an intern working with Dr. Kady Lyons, a marine biologist at the Georgia Aquarium. Piper was awarded the Georgia AFS 2021 Best Poster Presentation: Organic contaminants in two species of thresher sharks

We are grateful to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for allowing our use of their guest house at the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery as a meeting command center.  Our officers and program team managed the meeting from this location.  The meeting kicked off with an informative and highly entertaining keynote presentation by Dr. Brett Albanese, Program Manager for Wildlife Conservation in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Additional new events included a “happy-hour style” online team trivia contest and a lunch-and-learn educational workshop facilitated by Dr. Cecil Jennings, Chapter member and AFS Second Vice President.  Dr. Jennings’ live session, “You, your boat, and its trailer…Murphy was an optimist” was well attended and several of our participants also had a chance to share some of their experiences.  We expect to continue to use these three new events as part of our future annual meetings.

2021 Virtual Meeting Command Center Team: (from left to right) Chapter President Jamie Roberts, Chapter Co-Chair Arrangements Committee Brent Hess, Chapter Executive Secretary-Treasurer Rebecca Brown, Fundraising Chair Jackson Sibley, Chapter Recording Secretary-Treasurer Dawn Franco, and Co-Chair Arrangements Committee Kevin Cavallaro

Some of our Chapter’s 2020 highlights include adding active Twitter and Instagram accounts to our information-dissemination campaign, collaborative efforts between our Chapter and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to create aquatic education outreach posters and an Aquatic Nuisance Species workbook (https://gaafs.org/education-materials/), and updating our website to include an “Education” section and a “Fish Careers” section.  The “Education” (https://gaafs.org/education/) section includes information about workshops, education materials for K – college educators, outreach events, and a map of colleges and technical schools in Georgia that offer opportunities for students to pursue an education which will help them earn a job related to fisheries science.  The “Fish Careers” (https://gaafs.org/fish-careers/) section includes information about different careers associated with fisheries and strategies to help improve your candidacy when applying for a fisheries job.  Both of these new additions to the website can better inform high school and undergraduate students about college Fisheries programs and people across the state, and career opportunities in the field.

COVID-19 brought about many new challenges including how we could best recognize those who have contributed so much to the advancement of fisheries science and being champions of aquatic conservation.  We had a live awards ceremony which we then created a video and posted it to our website:  https://youtu.be/MMmSwzQmKPg

Georgia chapter afs professional awards

Certificate of Appreciation

  • Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery

Career Contribution Award

  • Bill Davin
  • Rusty Garrison
  • Dominic Guadagnoli
  • Roger Harrell
  • Pat Markey
  • Paul Jones
  • Donna Wilson

Fisheries Professional of the Year                                                                           

  • Jason Mitchell (winner)
  • Tony Beck (finalist)
  • Greg Abercrombie (finalist)

AFS Certificate of Appreciation

  • Jamie Roberts, GA AFS 2020 Chapter President

Distinguished Service Award

  • Jackson Sibley
  • Chalisa Fabillar

Unsung Hero Award

  • Dylan Severens
  • Cindy Smith
  • Amy Smith

Chapter President Award

  • Rebecca Brown

Fisheries Conservationist of the Year

  • Jim Page (Winner)
  • Katie Owens (finalist)

Roger Harrell (left) awarded Career Contribution Award nominated by Chris Harper (right)

Jason Mitchell, 2021 Fisheries Professional of the Year

Jim Page, 2021 Fisheries Conservationist of the Year

The Georgia Chapter also recognized students for outstanding research and presentations at the virtual annual meeting.  All of the students did a great job with their presentations.

Student Oral Presentation Awards

First Place: Brendan Dula (UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources) Effects of Hurricane Michael on annual recruitment, mortality, and behavior of Gulf Sturgeon in the Apalachicola River, Florida

Second Place: Frank McQuarrie (UGA College of Engineering) Acoustic covers without the guitars: Using robots to model fish detection range at coastal reefs

Third Place: Lauren Moniz (Georgia Southern Department of Biology) Lipid metabolites as energy stores in stingrays

student best poster presentation award

Piper Rackley (Georgia Institute of Technology, intern with Kady Lyons at GA Aquarium) Organic contaminants in two species of thresher sharks

student scholarships

Ronnie J. Gilbert Scholarship: Brendan Dula (UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources)

Georgia Chapter AFS Scholarship: Bryson Hilburn (UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources)

georgia chapter afs annnual fundraiser

Over the past several years our fundraising chair, Jackson Sibley, has done an excellent job of recruiting donations for our annual fundraiser that we are able to support aquatic education outreach events, donate money to help support the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Go Fish Education Center classroom, and provide additional funding for aquatic restoration projects around Georgia.  Fortunately, COVID-19 did not have a major negative impact on our fundraising efforts.  Although a few of our traditional donors were unable to contribute this year, we added several new ones, and thanks to our fundraising donors and the participation of our Chapter members, we were able to raise $3,136.87.

The 2021-2022 Executive Committee Members are:

  • President – Robert Bringolf
  • President-Elect – Marion Baker
  • Recording Secretary-Treasurer – Dawn Franco
  • Executive Secretary-Treasurer – Rebecca Brown
  • Past President – Jamie Roberts
  • Ex Officio – Cecil Jennings

The Chapter is looking forward to what we can accomplish in 2021!  We plan to grow our aquatic education outreach efforts to provide more resources for K – college educators and hopefully offer an in-person workshop towards the end of the summer.  We are excited about reinventing our annual meetings and will be planning to introduce some of what we did during the 2021 virtual meeting to our 2022 annual meeting agenda.

2020 SDAFS Elections

Voting Closes August 15, 2020, at 11:59pm

Elected candidates will take office at the 2021 SDAFS Business Meeting.  The Vice President and Student Representatives are 1-year terms.  Biographies of all candidates are found on the SDAFS website: https://sd.fisheries.org/latest-news/

You must have paid your 2020 AFS Society dues to be eligible to vote.  An email was sent out by SDAFS mid-July about voting.  Our Chapter sent out an email on August 4th with the voting link because some folks did not receive an email from SDAFS.

Candidates for Vice President:

Miguel A. (Toño) Garcia (USFWS Puerto Rico)
Mark W. Rogers (USGS Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit)

Candidates for Student Representative (only eligible students can vote for Student Rep.):

Zach Moran (Baylor University)
Bonnie Myers (North Carolina State University)

Becoming a Hutton Scholar Mentor Webinar

Calling all interested and past Hutton Mentors! Are you interested in applying to be a Hutton Mentor but not sure the responsibilities of hosting a high school student for the summer? Have you been a Hutton Mentor and looking to learn from other past Hutton Mentors about the opportunities they set up for their Hutton Scholar? Tune in for a panel of three past Hutton Mentors to learn about and share best practices for student internships. Join us Friday, May 1st from 12-1pm EDT for the webinar: Becoming a Hutton Scholar Mentor – Inspiring, Rewarding, and Surprisingly Easy! Register by following this link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8262334408948075533

Georgia Chapter Update

As we pause to reflect on the history of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) at the national level, it also provides us a time to reflect on the history of our own state: Georgia.  This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of fisheries professionals in Georgia coming together to meet as an organization.  Our most recent meeting, the 2020 Georgia Chapter AFS (GAAFS) annual meeting in Augusta, GA, was the 34th time fisheries professionals have gathered together to meet as a Chapter of the AFS.  Like many of the annual meetings that proceeded it, the 2020 GAAFS meeting was once again a tremendous success.  Held January 28-30, the 2020 annual meeting was attended by 134 fisheries professionals and students from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Virginia.  The meeting program included 51 oral presentations and 7 poster presentations, of which 17 were provided by students.    A highlight of the program was a symposium on Georgia Public Fishing Areas.  This symposium, which included 14 presentations, provided attendees with an opportunity to learn about a few of the many wonderful public facilities available in Georgia that offer excellent fishing opportunities.  In addition to the symposium, there were a plethora of diverse talks provided by fisheries professionals.  Topics varied but included the role of law enforcement in fisheries; the benefits of being a member of the Society; improving post-release survival of hook-caught Red Snapper and Red Drum; estimating the impact of recreational crabbing in coastal Georgia; robotic acoustics; interstate fishery management and American Shad; the influence of connectivity on native and invasive fish populations; the surrendering of the licenses for two Georgia Power hydroelectric projects on the Chattahoochee River; and multiple talks on black bass research in the upper Chattahoochee River basin.  The complete program with abstracts can be found on the Chapter website: www.gaafs.org.

During the business meeting, Chapter President Jim Page thanked the Chapter’s sponsors for their continued support and contributions to the Chapter.   Our sponsors are critical to the success of not only the Chapter’s annual meeting but also support the Chapter’s efforts to promote fisheries science in Georgia by making it possible for the Chapter to drastically reduce the annual meeting registration fees for students as well as supporting fisheries education community outreach programs.  The Georgia Chapter 2020 sponsors are Georgia Power, Georgia Museum of Natural History, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Lake Specialist, Georgia Southern University, UGA Student Subunit, and Kleinschmidt.

Additionally, during the business meeting highlights of 2019 were shared with all attendees.  Several accomplishments were achieved during the year, including but not limited to: updating of the Chapter website to include resources for oral and poster presentations and a new page added to include job postings; completion of a Summer 2019 workshop on fish disease and biosecurity that was very well attended and was sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) ; review and updating of the Chapter’s by-laws for the first time since 2000, an effort accomplished by a team of Chapter volunteers whose goal was to make changes necessary for efficient management of the Chapter and to ensure we were following the Constitution of the American Fisheries Society; and educational/outreach efforts pursued by GAAFS members during the year, including participating in CoastFest 2019.

In that realm, the GAAFS continues to seek avenues for ways to reach members of the public and educate them about AFS and the Georgia Chapter.  To pursue this goal, the Georgia Chapter set up a booth during CoastFest 2019, a popular annual event hosted by the GADNR Coastal Resources Division in Brunswick, GA.  With over 10,000 attendees each year, GAAFS members felt this may be a great outreach avenue for our Chapter, and, based on the hundreds of parents and children who visited the GAAFS booth at the event, this effort was certainly worthwhile.    The booth was manned by Chapter member and UGA Student Subunit President Gina Alvarez and GA Chapter Executive Sec-Treasurer Rebecca Brown.  A significant portion of the GAAFS booth included using the “Fish Box”, a wonderful educational tool graciously provided by the Georgia Museum of Natural History that allowed our booth staff to share their knowledge about how and why fisheries professionals age fish and the benefits of different physiologic characteristics fish have and humans do not.  In addition to the “Fish Box”, Ms. Alvarez brought some different fish sampling equipment to demonstrate how fisheries scientists capture fish for research and management.

During the Chapter’s Awards Banquet several members were recognized for their service to the Chapter and the profession.  Several of the Chapter’s members who retired recently were recognized for their lifetime of commitment and service to the betterment of our fish and aquatic resources.  Retired honorees included: Vernon Baldwin of GADNR, Ed Bettross of GADNR, Matt Thomas of GADNR, Spud Woodward of GADNR, and Rebecca Brown, a retired educator.  Brett Albanese of GADNR was presented with a Distinguished Service Award for his 6 years of dedicated service to the Chapter as the Awards Committee Chair.  Aaron Gray and Leon Brotherton, both from GADNR, were recognized as co-Fisheries Professionals of the Year recipients.  Both men have shown a tremendous commitment to the protection and conservation of fish and aquatic resources within the state of Georgia.  Marion Baker of GADNR was presented with the Fisheries Conservationist of the Year Award for her hard work and dedication to advance aquatic resource conservation in Georgia through programs she has helped to create and lead at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia.  The Chapter President’s Award was given to Brent Hess for his dedicated service to the Chapter over the past several years as a committee member for local arrangements, registration/help desk volunteer, past Chapter President, moderator during annual meetings, and the emcee during the Chapter Awards Banquet and Raffle/Silent Auction.  Gina Alvarez, Camm Swift, and Ana Popp were given a Certificate of Appreciation for their contributions to the success of the Chapter.  The Chapter introduced a new award this year, the Unsung Hero Award, to recognize the contributions of a person who may not be directly employed as a typical fisheries professional (e.g. biologist, technician, etc.), but provides exceptional work that is essential to the mission of promoting the conservation, development, and wise use utilization of fisheries resources.  This award is designed to celebrate the contributions of people often completing responsibilities “behind the scenes.”  The first recipient of this award went to Carletha Bryant, an administrative assistant with Georgia DNR in Waycross, Georgia for her 35 years of dedicated service to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems.

The Georgia Chapter also gave out several student awards as academic scholarships and travel stipend scholarships.

  • Travel Stipend Awardees
    • Rachel Byrne (UGA)
    • Brandon Filaski (UGA)
    • Bryson Hilburn (UGA)
    • Nicholas Troyer (UGA)
    • Daniel Gragson (UGA)
    • Cameron Atkinson (College of Coastal Georgia)
  • Ronnie J. Gilbert Scholarship
    • Michael Baker (UGA)
  • Georgia Chapter AFS Scholarship
    • Cameron Atkinson (College of Coastal Georgia)

The Georgia Chapter also recognized students for outstanding research and presentations at the annual meeting.  All of the students did a great job with their presentations.

  • Best Student Oral Presentations
    • First Place: Michael Baker (UGA) Comparing recruitment estimation methods for age-1 Atlantic Sturgeon in the Altamaha River, GA from 2008-2019
    • Second Place: Brendan Dula (UGA) Changes to Gulf Sturgeon recruitment, mortality, and behavior following Hurricane Michael in the Apalachicola River, Florida
    • Third Place: Victoria Montgomery (Georgia Gwinnett College) Comparison of diet habits of invasive Blue Catfish from the Altamaha and Satilla rivers, GA
  • Best Student Poster Presentations
    • First Place: Cameron Atkinson (College of Coastal Georgia) A pilot model to prioritize sites for eastern oyster reef restoration with an emphasis on red drum habitat suitability
    • Second Place: Elizabeth Howell (Young Harris College) Connecting volunteerism, science, and community engagement to protect water quality in a southern Appalachian watershed
    • Richard Johnson (Augusta University) Artificial cuts may affect shark population diversity and population density in the Satilla River estuary

The 2019 -2020 Executive Committee members are:

  • President – Jamie Roberts
  • President-Elect – Robert Bringolf
  • Recording Secretary-Treasurer – Dawn Franco
  • Executive Secretary-Treasurer – Rebecca Brown
  • Past President – Jim Page
  • Ex Officio – Cecil Jennings

Moving forward from the successes of the past year, the Georgia Chapter is excited about what the year 2020 will bring for its members and our state.  The new Executive Committee (EXCOMM) is continuing the development and implementation of our current goals and strategies for the upcoming year, which includes plans to push for more public outreach projects; expansion of the Chapter’s social media presence; continuation of updating the Chapter website; and offering of a summer workshop for Chapter members.  These goals, and others forthcoming, will not be achievable however without the continued support and participation of our members, and thus we strongly encourage each of our members to actively participate in Chapter activities in order for us to collectively fully realize our potential as a Chapter.

AFS Webinar: CREATING A MOVEMENT TO SAVE MIGRATORY FISH FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL

This webinar has been rescheduled for April 30, 2020

Ongoing river fragmentation and dam construction are two of the greatest global threats to freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Hence, migratory fish around the world are severely threatened. Dams are blocking these fish while they need to migrate to reproduce, feed and complete their life cycles. They make up a crucial link in the food chain and play an important ecological role in productive river systems. Furthermore, they provide an important food supply and livelihood for millions of people around the world. These migratory routes are called swimways. Some species like Atlantic Eel and the Goliath Catfish (Amazon River) have swimways of around 11.000km. For the existence of these fish it’s crucial that these swimways are open and provide habitat to breed and reproduce.

The World Fish Migration Foundation was founded in 2014 to save migratory fish in rivers, from local to global. WFMF brings global attention to the problems and the solutions and provide tools to river practitioners to preserve and to open swimways. In 2014 the foundation initiated the first World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) with a partnership of 6 organizations (WWF, The Nature Conservancy, eg). WFMD is bi-annual event which starts in New Zealand and follows the sun around the world, ending on Hawaii. The central message “Connecting fish, rivers and people” is used to connect sites around the world. The last edition in April 2018 hosted 570 local events organized by over 3000 organizations. The WFMD created a growing movement around migratory fish. It helps to reach students, teachers, resource managers, commercial and recreational anglers, as well as those who influence public policies. After 3 editions the global reach is 50-70 million people through (social) media. The fourth edition is planned for May 16, 2020.

Recent reports from Europe and the USA conclude that the removal of dams is a very effective ecological restoration measure as rivers recover faster than expected after dam removal. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that dam removal is often a cost-effective measure. For these reasons the World Fish Migration Foundation and six partners started the Dam Removal Europe Movement in 2016. The ambition is to make dam removal a viable option for river management and to restore fish populations. After 4 years the development of this movement is a success and now we want the scale this up through channelizing funding and reach out to a bigger audience by starting crowd funding campaigns for dam removals. The ultimate ambition is to use the experiences from the USA and Europe and create a global dam removal movement.

Presenter’s Biosketch

Herman Wanningen is founder and creative director of the World Fish Migration Foundation (WFMF). With a strong background in water management and aquatic ecology, he has developed a successful career in fish passage over the past 20 years. He is leading the efforts on developing fish migration visions and policies at a global scale. Herman facilitates and activates communication between the worldwide fish migration expert community, key-decision makers and policy makers. He gives advice on national and international fish passage and river connectivity projects such as the Fish Migration River project (The Netherlands), Dam Removal Europe and AMBER Horizon2020 project. This last project aims to map all barriers in European rivers and to provide management tools.

Herman is known on the international stage for developing the World Fish Migration Day (2014, 2016 and 2018), organizing international conferences and developing fish migration networks. In 2018 over 3000 local and regional organizations organized 570 events in 63 countries. Herman is coordinator and co-author of three international From Sea to Source books on fish migration. He has won an award for his management of the successful Fish Passage conference in 2015 in Groningen. He is manager of the World Fish Migration Day 2020 and recently became Fellow under the Mulago Fund Program.

For information about registration: https://fisheries.org/2020/03/webinar-march-24-creating-a-movement-to-save-migratory-fish-from-local-to-global/

 

 

AFS Webinar: Mythbusting Marine Aquaculture

Mythbusting Marine Aquaculture

Thursday, February 27, 2020
1:00 pm Eastern Time

Presenters:
Jennifer Molloy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Siting and Water Quality
Mike Rust, Ph.D., NOAA Fisheries
Guillaume Salze, Ph.D., Ajinomoto Animal Nutrition North America, Inc.
Jesse Trushenski, Ph.D., Riverence
Craig Watson, University of Florida

Register Now!

Description:
Marine finfish aquaculture in the United States represents an opportunity to provide domestic seafood, create jobs, contribute to coastal economies, and help improve community health. Significant advances in fish farming technology and best management practices have decreased the environmental footprint and increased the economic performance and sustainability of marine aquaculture.

Hear from experts about how proper siting and husbandry, best management practices, and the use of appropriate technologies and tools are minimizing or eliminating diseases, therapeutants, excess nutrients in benthic habitats, and the release of nonnative species.

AFS Celebrates 150 Years

What sustains a society for 150 years? Maybe it’s a compelling mission to conserve North America’s fisheries and aquatic resources. Perhaps it’s the strong community of like-minded professionals who enjoy sharing their life’s work with each other. Or maybe it’s a tradition of scientific excellence spanning the generations. The American Fisheries Society is proud to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2020 and you’re invited to participate!

https://150years.fisheries.org/