News & Updates

2020 AFS Second Vice President Candidate Statements

AFS SECOND VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE STATEMENT: CECIL A. JENNINGS

I have been around fish and fisheries from an early age, but recognizing that it was to become my professional passion took a bit more time! A childhood friend’s grandfather was a commercial fisherman, and we sometimes tagged along as he tended his gear. Our interest wasn’t in the fish as much as it was enjoying the boat ride and experiencing the natural environmental wonders of our native Virgin Islands. Though I wasn’t aware at the time, I was developing a love and appreciation of nature. My formal introduction to the natural world occurred during my senior year in high school when I was enrolled in a marine biology class. The course and its many field trips to beaches, tide pools, and mangrove lagoons reawakened my love of the outdoors and also fueled a desire to learn about how such systems work and what I could do to protect them. Excelling in this class led to a summer internship with the local natural resource agency just before I started collegiate studies. That internship was the start of my aspirations to become a natural resource professional. I had a vague notion that I wanted to be a biologist, but I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. College classes in a classical biology curriculum strengthened my interest in science, but classes in ecology and resource conservation coupled with part-time jobs as a field technician provided genuine clarity to my professional goals. A bachelor’s degree in biology/natural science/conservation from Carthage College was followed by a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries ecology from Mississippi State University and a PhD in fisheries science from the University of Florida.

I’ve have been happily employed as a fisheries biologist for the past 32+ years and counting, including positions with the Virgin Islands Division of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Currently, I work as a fisheries research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (Cooperative Research Units) and serve as an adjunct professor (Fisheries) in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. In these positions, I have had the good fortune of working with amazing people on a diverse array of species/assemblages inhabiting a variety of systems. These efforts addressed an assortment of fish management or conservation issues and included investigations into fish population dynamics, life history, age and growth, food habits, habitat use and movement patterns, assemblage response to habitat perturbations, and human dimensions. Much of this work was done collaboratively and accomplished with a team of graduate students, post-doctoral research associates, and technical staff. I am optimistic that my research and mentoring efforts have contributed to maintaining healthy fish populations and the fisheries and communities they support as well as recruiting a new generation of scientists to ensure fisheries stewardship continuity.

AFS INVOLVEMENT

My involvement with AFS dates back 35 years to my time as a graduate student at Mississippi State University, where I learned about the society from a faculty member who extolled the Society’s contribution to the profession and encouraged me to join. Initially, I was happy to be associated with like-minded faculty and students who shared a love of fisheries. As an inexperienced fisheries student with a basic biology background, the “fisheries” learning curve was steep, but I enjoyed the new and exciting experiences, inside and outside the classroom. Chief among the “new experiences” was learning the importance of good governance for helping the Society fulfill its mission. I began to understand that AFS’s many successes have come from members being involved at all levels of the Society and accepted that I too should contribute to the Society’s governance as needed.

Since those early days, I have supported AFS by maintaining membership (including life member since 2011) in the Society and participating in governance at the local, regional, and national levels. This support includes participating in conferences (author and session chair) at all organizational levels, serving as a referee for and publishing my research results in many of the Society’s journals, and editing an AFS-published book. Since joining AFS in 1984, I have served on 12 different committees, as President at the state (Georgia) and regional (Southern Division) level, as an Associate Editor for two of the Society’s journal (North American Journal of Fisheries Management and Transactions of the American Fisheries Society), and on the parent society Governing Board. These experiences, especially service on the Governing Board, have been very rewarding personally and professionally. My 35-year long association with AFS has provided the palette on which my contributions to our profession could be fully realized. These contributions in research, mentoring, and governance were recognized recently by my induction as an AFS Fellow (class of 2019).

VISION

The American Fisheries Society is the oldest and most preeminent professional fisheries society in the world. Its mission is clear… “Improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals.” Though simple to state, these objectives can be difficult to achieve, especially given the current zeitgeist in our country. AFS has a robust track record of facilitating strong science and professionalism among its members, disseminating research in well-respected peer-reviewed journals, and advocating strongly on behalf of the aquatic resources, especially fisheries. My main vision for AFS is to maintain this record of accomplishment as it adroitly reacts to emerging challenges and opportunities. For example, many Americans now seem to eschew science and rely on refuted ideas (e.g., the earth is flat, vaccines cause autism, climate change is not caused by human activities) to govern their daily activities and their positions on the country’s science policy, including protections for the environment and the resources we derive from it. Unfortunately, issues related to fisheries are not immune to this anti-science bias. In this environment, “business as usual” may not be the most effective approach to achieving AFS’s mission.

The American Fisheries Society has thrived as long as it has because it has been responsive to societal changes and challenges without compromising its core beliefs. Deciding when responses are necessary has been key to this success. In my view, our profession is at such a crossroad and is facing new challenges that require innovative responses. For example, our inability to communicate the importance of what we do to our constituents, who may be increasingly skeptical to our appeals to protect and conserve our fishery resources, is one such challenge. We fisheries professionals speak a common language, and though many of our constituents may know a couple of phrases, far too few speak this language fluently. Accordingly, we are responsible for communicating our science and its implications (good and otherwise) for their lives in a language they understand. I envision AFS being a leader in this effort. Additionally, recognizing that occupational “branding” when recruiting new professionals, who may not come from the ranks of the traditional “hook and bullet” enthusiasts of the past also is an emerging challenge to our profession. In my role as an academician, I’ve spent many hours debating the merits of branding (i.e., what we call our classes) for recruiting students to our program. Increasingly, the students enrolling in natural resource curricula come from urban backgrounds and seemingly are more interested in “fish conservation” than in “fisheries management.” These title differences may seem subtle, but enrollment in fish conservation frequently is much higher than the enrollment in fisheries management. The need to manage fisheries is more important now than ever, but finding professionals to fill those rolls may be difficult if we can’t attract them to the profession. Proactive assessment of how AFS’s “brands” (e.g., fisheries biologist) are perceived by potential new recruits may be beneficial as the profession markets itself to a new generation of fishery science practitioners. Finally, lack of adequate compensation for many beginning fisheries professional may lead to problems retaining new recruits to our profession and represents an opportunity for the Society to advocate for its members. I personally have trained scores of fisheries students at all educational levels. Most have been bright, highly motivated, and passionate young professionals eager to pursue their passion. However, I’ve seen too many struggle to find professional fisheries positions that pay an entry-level wage commensurate with the cost of the skill set required to do the job. Similarly, I’ve seen far too many leave the profession in search of better entry-level wages offered by other occupations. Our profession’s potential retention problem will become more acute if the number of retirees in the next decade increases as projected. Discerning why recruits are leaving our profession and what can be done to retain them should be high priority information needs if AFS is to maintain its strong reputation for long-term distinguished service advocating for fisheries and fisheries professionals.

My path as a fisheries professional has had many twists and turns. I have enjoyed the journey thus far and very much look forward to where it will lead. My long association with the American Fisheries Society has been a mainstay in that journey, and I have benefited from the service of others who assumed governance roles within the Society. I welcome the opportunity to serve in a similar role. If elected AFS President, I pledge to work diligently to maintain the Society’s relevancy, efficacy in promoting fishery science, and being responsive to emerging challenges to the profession and the opportunities they represent.

AFS SECOND VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE STATEMENT: JULIE DEFILIPPI SIMPSON

I was born and raised near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My father often took my sister and me fishing as children and he taught us the value of natural resources according to these rules: “Only take what you plan to eat,” and “You catch it, you clean it.” I became interested in the marine environment at an early age and have been passionate about fisheries and quality science since then. I did my undergraduate work in marine science at Boston University and graduate work in marine policy at the University of Maine. My professional career started as a Fisheries Biological Data Coordinator at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where I was first exposed to the power of centralized data. From there, I went to work for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program. My over 12-year tenure began as the first ever Fisheries Data Coordinator and I have held roles of progressively greater responsibility and broader scope leading to my current position as Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program Deputy Director.

AFS INVOLVEMENT

I attended my first AFS Annual Meeting as a graduate student in Lake Placid in 2006, got hooked, and have been an active member of AFS since 2007. I am a member of multiple Sections and began working actively with the Fisheries Information and Technology Section (FITS) in 2012 as their Communications and Outreach Coordinator, a position I served in until 2015. Because of my expertise and commitment to the Section, I was elected as Incoming President of FITS in 2013 and served as President from 2015–2017. During that time, I represented the Section on the Governing Board and also served on the Management Committee from 2015–2016. As a member of FITS, I was part of the Working Group to Develop Fisheries Data Exchange Standards in 2014.

Communications and science communication are a primary interest for me. I began serving the Society in these disciplines with the Special Committee on Science Communication in 2013. I then joined the Communications Committee at its inception in 2016 and have served as Chair since September 2017. In that role, I had the honor of presenting on communications and creating a communications plan as a plenary speaker at the AFS Minnesota Chapter meeting in 2018. I had the privilege to be part of the Impact-a-thon grant, awarded by Wiley to pilot a program focused on science communication and increasing diversity by working with high school students in urban areas. Participating in the workshop with the teens and my amazing team of AFS colleagues was a career highlight for me and I look forward to establishing the program as a model for all AFS Units.

Recently, I had the pleasure of serving on the Strategic Plan Revision Committee that drafted the 2020–2024 AFS Strategic Plan, which was approved by the membership at the Annual AFS Business Meeting in Reno, Nevada. I am currently on the 150th Celebration Committee. At a more local AFS level, I am in my second year as President of the AFS Potomac Chapter.

VISION

Organizations are like houses in that they are only as strong as the foundation upon which they are based. The American Fisheries Society has a 150-year history as a strong community of intelligent, passionate, and dedicated fisheries professionals working toward scientifically based conservation and management. I have yet to attend an AFS function, whether it be at the Society or Unit level, where the enthusiasm and energy hasn’t been palpable and capable of inspiring me to renewed commitment. All of this, added to the wealth of excellent work that has been achieved by previous officers and volunteers at all levels, gives us an unassailable footing on which to build our future.

We now stand at a pivotal moment as we set the course for our next 150 years. As Chair of the Communications Committee, I have had the privilege to work on the brand revitalization effort. A brand is about much more than a logo; it is the representation of who we are as a Society. In order to effectively execute this project, it was necessary to survey and interview members, non-members, officers, and even sponsors to ascertain how AFS is perceived, what members want from AFS, and what resources and services AFS can provide members and the profession.

This process, in conjunction with my time on the Strategic Plan Revision Committee, has helped me to recognize that while the functioning of the Society can be complex, it can be brought back to what is best for the science and for the people. The resources and support for fisheries professionals and science isn’t always on a stable footing elsewhere in this world, but it is here in the American Fisheries Society.

We know that inclusivity and rigorous science are the soundest path to a better future. I believe that if we can continue to hold to this tenet in our decisions, we will meet the needs of our members at higher levels than ever before. Achieving the pinnacle of service and support, for current and future members and the profession as a whole, will only come through the collective efforts of all of us stepping up—as volunteers, mentors, teachers, colleagues, and friends. Thus, we will safeguard the future of a Society that grows and adapts along with the profession.

Continually, I am personally and professionally enthused and energized during my AFS interactions. My vision is to create an AFS where all members share in that inspirational experience and are invigorated to fulfill their potential in their daily work and to give back to the profession through the Society. I am humbled to be nominated for the opportunity to serve the Society and my fellow members at the highest level. If the membership chooses to grant me their trust, I promise to honor that with active listening, hard work, and dedication.

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/

 

 

SDAFS Best Student Subunit Award goes to UGA Subunit

The 2020 Annual Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society meeting was very rewarding for the University of Georgia Student Subunit (Subunit).  For the first time ever, the Subunit was awarded the Best Student Subunit for their 2019 accomplishments.  Congratulations to all the members of the Subunit (led by faculty advisor Dr. Robert Bringolf and UGA Subunit Presidents Alex Pelletier and Gina Alvarez) on achieving this honor.

The Subunit began 2019 with an impressive showing of presentations and posters at the annual Georgia Chapter AFS meeting at Lake Blackshear in Cordele, GA.  Seven student members of the Subunit gave oral presentations, while 3 participated in the poster session.  Furthermore, one student Subunit member earned the Ronnie J. Gilbert academic scholarship, which is presented annually to one outstanding fisheries student by the Georgia Chapter.

The Subunit had a long list of additional accomplishments in 2019, including hosting the annual Fish Fry; participating in Rivers Alive to help clean up around Carriage Lane Creek in Athens; helping Boy Scouts earn their Fishing Merit Badge; teaching kids how to fish during the Kids Fishing Day event at Sandy Creek Nature Center; and hosting workshops for Adopt-A-Stream Macroinvertebrate Certification, Coastal Fish Identification.  Additional events in which the Subunit participated include CoastFest 2019 (hosted by the Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division in Brunswick) and the annual Bioblitz.  Regarding CoastFest 2019, Subunit President Gina Alvarez joined GA Chapter AFS Executive Sec-Treasurer Rebecca Brown in manning a GAAFS booth at the event, which drew over 10,000 people.  Ms. Alvarez and Ms. Brown shared information about our Chapter, including the Subunit, and educated participants using a wonderful educational tool, the Fish Box, which was provided by the Georgia Museum of Natural History, a GA AFS sponsor.  In a second event, Bioblitz, the Subunit challenged Clemson for the most species identified.  After a fun yet vigorous challenge, UGA won…better luck next year Clemson!

Additional contributions made by the Subunit in 2019 included monetary support.   The Subunit made a generous donation to the Georgia Chapter AFS annual meeting to help support the annual social/poster mixer.  The GA AFS Social/Poster Mixer is a way for students and professionals to interact in addition to students and professionals presenting their research.  Additionally, the Subunit made a donation through an Embrace a Stream Challenge to help support the Chattahoochee River Wild Trout Improvement Project.  This project involves the restoration of Crayfish Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta.  The goal of the project is to improve the water quality of Crayfish Creek by stabilizing eroded streambanks, removing non-native debris, and restoring native riparian vegetation.  Each of these financial contributions provided much-needed assistance and is greatly appreciated.

Final noteworthy achievements made by the Subunit in 2019 included hosting several presentations during monthly Subunit meetings.  Topics of presentations included how to find a job in fisheries; water connectivity; the plasticity of pallid sturgeon in the Midwest; Georgia DNR Bass Slam; oyster aquaculture; and lionfish acoustics.

On behalf of the entire GA AFS Chapter, we extend our utmost congratulations to the Subunit on a wonderful 2019!  Keep up the great work, and we look forward to reading and hearing about your 2020 accomplishments!

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.

2020 Chapter Elections

We had 3 members step up and run for President-Elect. In the end it was Robert Bringolf who was elected as our Chapter’s President-Elect. Jamie Roberts takes over from Jim Page as our new Chapter President. Jim will begin his role as Past-President. During our annual Award’s Banquet we had the Changing of the Guard. This was the first year we had a new officer position up for election. Dawn Franco was the only person who volunteered to run for Chapter Recording Secretary-Treasurer. Dawn was approved for the role as Recording Secretary-Treasurer by the Chapter members at the Chapter Business Meeting. Dawn will work with our Chapter Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Rebecca Brown, during the annual meeting and throughout the year. Congratulations everyone for your new roles as Georgia Chapter AFS Officers.

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/

 

AFS Webinar on January 28

AFS Book Preview: Multispecies and Watershed Approaches to Freshwater Fish Conservation Tuesday, January 28, 2020 1:00 pm Eastern Time Presenters: Daniel Dauwalter Trout Unlimited Timothy Birdsong Texas Parks and Recreation Department Gary Garrett University of Texas at Austin Registration Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8364194263774714893

Description:
Freshwater systems in the United States have been altered dramatically, resulting in degradation of fish habitats and declines in native freshwater fishes. Innovative conservation approaches are needed to restore watershed processes for freshwater fish conservation while simultaneously supporting human needs. This need has driven development of innovative multispecies and watershed-based concepts, assessments, prioritizations, planning, and delivery that focus conservation efforts on entire aquatic communities at watershed scales while incorporating species life history needs and acknowledging compatible human uses. These approaches have yielded multi-agency partnerships and large-scale funding programs focused on operationalizing conservation plans and supporting meaningful and transformative conservation delivery for freshwater fishes and their habitats. This book, which was borne out of a symposium titled “Multispecies and Watershed Approaches to Native Fish Conservation:  Science, Planning, and Implementation” held at the 2017 American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, highlights these innovative approaches to freshwater fish conservation, profiling case studies from freshwater systems throughout the United States that include diverse partnerships encompassing state, federal and local agencies, watershed councils, non-governmental organizations, and Fish Habitat Partnerships. The book also profiles highly effective and successful conservation programs and initiatives that have spanned entire careers and represent decades of unwavering commitment and passion by agencies, organizations, and individuals to restore and preserve freshwater systems. Some of these individuals have left a lasting conservation legacy through their incredibly productive and impactful careers and have offered figurative road maps to guide and inform the efforts of current and future conservation professionals. The case studies highlighted in this book simply show it is possible to successfully effect change at watersheds scales for multiple species and set a high bar for the next generation of aquatic conservationists and fisheries managers focused on the conservation of freshwater fishes.  https://fisheries.org/2020/01/webinar-on-january-28/

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