Now that I am actually President of this prestigious Institute, I find that I am asked (more than ever) why a fishery research biologist should join the AIFRB, what are the benefits of membership, isn’t it enough to belong to a large society that purportedly voices my views and concerns? I’ve been asked these questions from non-members as well as members, including members of our Board of Control (BOC)! The answers to these inquiries are both common and personal, and are as numerous as there are fisheries scientists. My first response has to be embedded in our Mission Statement: Promote Excellence in Fishery Science. But what does that really mean? How does one person instill or promote excellence in the profession of fisheries science? How does advocacy fit in? It seems to me that the more an organization advocates positions, the less importance an individual’s position becomes. However, providing a forum for individuals to discuss and debate positions, especially in the promotion of great science without fear of retribution, that’s one of the Institute’s strongest traits. It was founded on that ideal, and it will always be that way. But there are many other reasons for that as well.
In an earlier AIFRB introductory brochure, several reasons to join the Institute were highlighted; not the least of which is the fact that members meet regionally (District oriented) to discuss issues important to fisheries resources and to fisheries scientists. This is really the hallmark of our organization, to provide an opportunity for students, private and public (state and federal agency) fisheries professionals, academicians (professors and researchers alike), and all other fishery research biologists to meet informally, and discuss anything relative to the industry. I personally enjoy the mentoring aspect afforded to students and young professionals by the older mossbacks, while recognizing the knowledge and insight provided by younger scientists. It goes both ways. AIFRB’s focus is to provide advice on the science of evaluating fishery resources, and research issues that emphasize what is known and what needs to be known, in particular dealing with resource sustainability. The AIFRB prefers its role as a source of reliable information and professional advice.
We are proud of our awards programs, including our Clark Hubbs student research awards, awarded annually for assistance in presenting original research, our annual W F Thompson award for best student paper in fisheries research, our bi-annual Hiroshi Kasahara Early Career award recognizing excellence in the Institute’s young professional members, as well as our individual and group achievement awards, for outstanding contributions by fishery researchers. We also provide a mentor service that includes arranging work experience throughout North America, as well as offering free pre-submission manuscript reviews. Learn more about these awards and programs on our website.
AIFRB hosts major symposia on important topics in fisheries. Proceedings of our 2007 50th anniversary symposium, “The Future of Fisheries Science in North America”, is to date one of the most downloaded sources of fisheries science, including specific downloads of 34 chapters by individual researchers reviewing the science in their particular fields, and using their experience to develop informed opinions about the future.
Joining the Institute is a way to give back to the profession of fishery science. Our Past President, Dick Beamish (2008-2011) stated All of us were helped along the way by colleagues who wanted to protect fish and manage fisheries. Membership in AIFRB will help give back to our profession. If you are a Professor or a Supervisory Professional Scientist, I hope that you will consider introducing your students/staff/colleagues to AIFRB and its events. Many students have been recipients of Research Awards and Young Professionals have received substantial awards for their original work and showing promise for excellence as career scientists. They all have the opportunity to rub shoulders with agency, academic and professional fishery scientists in District-specific meetings, major AIFRB symposia, as well as annual symposia supported and moderated by AIFRB at other professional societies. Our next AIFRB symposium, Balancing Conservation and Utilization to Sustain Fisheries, is currently being planned by AIFRB BOC members Steve Cadrin, Sean Lucey, and Cate O’Keefe for presentation at the upcoming 145th AFS national meeting in Portland, Oregon. More information on the symposium is available on our website as well as our LinkedIn group (and join it!).
In my first President’s Message, I described how I have been influenced by several Past Presidents of the Institute. I neglected to say that in addition to our Past Presidents, there are a handful of dedicated AIFRB officers that are the heartbeat of this Institute, beginning with our Treasurer, Allen Shimada. Allen, a NOAA Fishery Scientist (and Fellow of the Institute) has a most interesting job, managing fleet allocation, ship time access and schedule for NMFS scientists among NOAA’s fleet of fisheries survey vessels. Allen has been our treasurer since 1999, and his dedication has truly kept the Institute afloat. I often ask myself where AIFRB would be without Allen’s efforts. But I also wonder where NOAA would be without his efforts! NOAA’s most recent Fishery Survey Vessel, the 208 ft. Bell M. Shimada, is named for Allen’s father, a pioneering fisheries scientist who studied tunas and oceanography as it relates to their distribution and abundance, as a scientist with the Honolulu Laboratory of Pacific Ocean Fisheries Investigations (POFI) and then, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). My most sincere thanks to Allen for all that he does for the Institute.
Our dedication to students and professionals is strong. Although our current distribution of Districts may not adequately cover the needs and desires of our international membership, we strongly encourage members to reach out and perhaps start a District in your particular area. We promise to provide both mentoring and monetary support necessary for success. There are currently young Districts in development (such as in British Columbia by Brittany Jenewein, firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as District rebirth in the case of older Districts (as is occurring in Seattle). Please send me an email if I can be of any assistance in pursuit of District development, membership questions, involvement in upcoming symposia, or anything else!