Having taken the office of the AIFRB Presidency in Quebec City in August, I attended my 14th AIFRB BOC annual meeting; three as Northern California District Director, and 11 as Membership Committee Chair. I have served the Institute under 5 AIFRB presidents, all of whom have taught me important lessons for assuming the Presidency of this most prestigious Institute.
Gary Sakagawa (2001-2002) was a great parliamentarian, and he impressed upon me how to run a meeting in a timely and efficient manner. Gary was also instrumental in the formation of the Kasahara Award. Dick Schaefer (2003-2004) too knew how to run a tight ship. His focus on the importance of increasing membership, in particular, impressed me (along with his most outgoing demeanor), and led me to accept the position of Membership Chair. Linda Jones (2005-2007) also understood the urgency of increasing membership, and began the discussion of looking for innovative ways to do so. She assisted in logistics planning and presenting the 50th Year Symposium in Seattle. Dick Beamish (2008-2010) was co-producer of the Symposium and co-editor of the Symposium Proceedings. Dick is able to reach all types of fisheries folks; students, academicians, agency and private professionals alike. His intellectual achievements brought additional credibility to the Institute. Where Dick brought credibility, Steve Cadrin (2011-2013) brought relevance to the Institute, in particular with his leadership in the science of sustainability.
The past few years have seen an insurgence in membership in the Institute, particularly under the leadership of Dick and Steve, with the prior Presidents laying the groundwork for where we stand today. Because of them, we have made great recent strides attracting a newer breed of member by embracing social media as a means for reaching out to digitally-minded students and young professionals, improving our website and newsletter, while continuing to maintain the high standards of excellence in Fishery Science through such a dramatic change in how the world communicates. They also inspired a handful of dedicated officers and important committee chairs that together have kept the Institute running in the right direction. In his last Presidential address, Steve summed up our most important assets: our historic reputation along with our more recent dedication to advancing excellence in fishery science, our outstanding membership, and our innovation in advancing our mission (e.g., symposia, research literature, social media).
We have much to do. We continue to struggle with low membership, low budgets, and the need to provide relevant programs and tools for members to improve their professions. During my term, I intend to:
- Follow the lead of the esteemed past Presidents.
- Accept my fiduciary responsibilities for the Institute and explore ways with our Treasurer (Allen Shimada) to improve our financial condition. All things are possible, such as sponsoring workshops and symposia, and exploring ideas like patronage, a lifetime membership level, merchandising products, obtaining corporate and agency sponsorships, and whatever else we can think.
- Work closely with our new Membership Chair, and the extended recruitment team (including Young Professionals) to continue membership growth and improve member retention, including development of new Districts and developing membership demographics by District to assist District Directors and the BOC in evaluating our past and present growth patterns.
- Provide support to Tom Ihde and Sarah Fox to continue the great strides we have made with our website and newsletter, Briefs, and to complete the rollout of the membership email list for email blasts.
- Develop close working relationship with the Directors, instituting a semimonthly conference call to discuss District issues, such as membership, promotions, and activities.
- Continue support with Cate O’Keefe on the Young Professionals Program and outreach at the District level.
- Working with Steve, Al, and others to fill vacant Directorships in key Districts; beginning with the Pacific Northwest (Washington), and especially Oregon (has a very active AFS chapter) for next years meeting.
- Exploring the feasibility of having a 60th Anniversary Symposium in 2016 on the West Coast, exploring effects of recent extremes in primary production on fish stocks; are we asking the right questions and are we doing the right science?
- Continue to support excellence in fishery science, both to the profession as well to the students and professionals, and uphold the ideals of the Institute, supporting sustainability,
And with that, and your help, let’s get to work.