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Tracking fisheries through time: The American Fisheries Society as an historical lens

May 14, 2020

The historical context of current environment conditions offers vital guidance to North American fisheries professionals as they strive to develop effective management plans and policies. This retrospective includes understanding the remarkable historic fisheries resource and causative reasons for establishing their public fisheries agencies and the American Fisheries Society (Society). Through a review of primary historical documents and literature for North America, this paper identifies: factors contributing to the of founding of the Society and public fish commissions; shows how selected resource issues evolved; and documents how and why selected fisheries and aquatic habitat policies changed in response to those issues. Overexploitation, landscape-scale habitat alterations, mining, and dams were the causative agents for emergence of fisheries agencies and the Society, and these environmental factors remain relevant today. Beginning in the 1960s, after 100 years of inaction, North Americans grew tired of degraded waters and fisheries and forced policy changes that have directly and indirectly affected the fisheries we manage today. The historical events and resulting corrective legislation are taken for granted by those unaware that our Society has actively participated in developing policies to address these environmental harms. Further, the Society continues to play a vital role in identifying key issues, providing conduits for information to cope with impairments, and advocating for policies to conserve intact habitats and improve degraded systems. The struggles documented in this paper offer crucial lessons as we continue to be challenged by legacy resource issues and face emerging environmental stressors such as climate change as well as regression in long-standing environmental protection policies.

Publication Year 2020
Title Tracking fisheries through time: The American Fisheries Society as an historical lens
Authors G.E. Whelan, D.M Day, J. Casselman, L Gephart, C.J. Hall, J.A. Lichatowich, M. Matylewich, Leandro E. Miranda, L. Roulson, P.D. Shirey, N. Mercado-Silva, D. Winters, J. Waldman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Fisheries Magazine
Index ID 70228606
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta