Greetings AIFRB Membership! This is my first message to the membership since our Board of Control (BOC) meetings in Portland in August 2015. To summarize, the state of our Institute is good. An organization is only as great as its people and their passion to make it succeed, and in that regard, we are in excellent shape. We have the right people in place to continue making prodigious strides for growth and relevance to our industry, in both public and private sectors, as well as in academics.
Our membership chair, Todd Chapman, informs me that our membership continues to grow, with record recruitment in 2014 and 2015, as well as record membership applications submitted. What is particularly pleasing to me is that we are receiving applications from biologists throughout the country, and not just from our active districts. We also continue to receive members from Canada. We have had the pleasure of adding new district directors, and we continue to search for those candidates who are interested in working with us to develop new, active districts (please contact me if you are interested or have someone else in mind: tomk@HelixEPI.com).
During our recent BOC meetings, we had to struggle to increase our operating budget, which required frank and honest discussion. One outcome of those discussions was to raise our annual dues, but only by $5, to a Member rate of $45…still the best deal in town! We have discussed raising our dues since 2013, but the BOC has held off until we felt it absolutely necessary. We felt that only a modest increase was necessary because we believe our other action items will achieve our other goal of increasing our available funds to support our science. One of those actions will be to focus efforts at the district level, pushing for timely dues payments by our members. We have changed our dues payment timing to coincide with the calendar year, instead of the fiscal year. You are now receiving dues notices now for 2016, which upon payment during this transitional year will keep you current through December 31, 2016. Although we have provided an extensive grace period in the past – in many cases for a number of years – we really need our members to make timely and regular dues payments going forward.
Speaking of having the right people in place, we are pleased to introduce our new treasurer, Cate O’Keefe, who will be working very hard to achieve our fiduciary goals. She takes over from our past treasurer, Allen Shimada, who has worked so hard for the Institute for 15 years. Al will focus his efforts on the Institute’s financial investments and special projects.
Another action item from the BOC is to continue support to our website and newsletter, Briefs, since both present the face of AIFRB. Tom Ihde and Sarah Fox have worked hard to transition from our hard copy of Briefs to a digital copy. Briefs and the website now have a new focus - to primarily report on membership news and member research. Though in the past, our website has been a source of fisheries research being conducted around the globe, you will see a change in focus of our member’s research. To continue to make this work for our membership outreach and to promote your good science, we need our members to provide news updates, as short and succinct or as long and detailed as you wish, for inclusion into Briefs and on the website. Please work with your district director and district membership to provide us with this news on a regular basis. Consider this invaluable outreach to your fellow scientists. (Please contact email@example.com.)
In the coming years remaining in my presidency, I intend to continue the focus on district development and district director coordination; because I believe that the Institute is most relevant at the district level. Our directors are the front line in our campaign to improve and grow the Institute, and your BOC intends to provide the support necessary for successful districts wherever fisheries research is being performed. For example, in just a few weeks, the Southern California District will be holding their annual recruitment event. It so happens that the headquarter of our most recent Outstanding Group Achievement Award winner, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, is in Southern California, and we will be presenting that award to its director, Dr. Guillermo Compeán, along with several AIFRB members who are also IATTC scientists. We will be presenting our past secretary, Dr. Kathryn Dickson with the Distinguished Service Award, and will be introducing the Institute’s new Young Professional Representative, Mary Blasius. If you are in Southern California on November 14th, stop by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro for a great networking opportunity, as well as some great tacos!