Data availability and quality is one of the largest challenges in fisheries stock assessment. Rapid technological advances have greatly benefited modeling and software capabilities, but without quality data inputs, fish assessment results lack the resolution and certainty needed by resource managers. Assessment models currently use data from a variety of fishery dependent and independent sources.  This primarily includes government managed data collection programs that measure catch as well as fishery independent at-sea surveys. However, many other data sources can be important for informing assessments, especially where traditional data is lacking. Non-traditional data sources may include academic studies, cooperative research and industry partnerships, citizen science, recreational angler-reported data, as well as data collected utilizing new technologies, such as electronic monitoring, uncrewed systems, and molecular tools (e.g., eDNA). 

Integrating any new data source into a stock assessment model comes with challenges. Data providers must work with stock assessment analysts to ensure rigorous sampling protocols and survey designs are developed and implemented, as well as data processing and storage standards are established to provide access to the new data resources. Studies are required to calibrate data resources to existing data streams and investigate any biases associated with new data collection methods and how biases may affect uncertainty in an assessment. None of these challenges should discourage data providers or analysts from pursuing the incorporation of available data; rather, it provides opportunities to improve assessment science by developing approaches to utilize new data resources. This symposium will focus on case studies where new, non-traditional data sets have been incorporated into a stock assessment, and highlight successful methods and strategies, as well as challenges with the access and incorporation of new, non-traditional data.


Abigail Furnish, [email protected]NOAA Fisheries – Office of Science and Technology, Analyst

Kristan Blackhart, [email protected]NOAA Fisheries – Office of Science and Technology

Melissa Karp, [email protected]ECS Federal for NOAA Fisheries

Sponsors: Estuaries Section, Marine Fisheries Section, International Fisheries Section

This session aims to highlight recent advances in physiological, biogeochemical, and biomineralization effects on isotope and trace element incorporation into hard parts (e.g., otoliths, bones, shells, scales), semi-hard (eye lenses) and soft tissues (e.g., muscle tissue) to improve life history, environmental, and physiological reconstructions. We also encourage talks on the physiological impacts on biomarkers such as fatty acid profiles in tissues for reconstructing habitat use and feeding ecology, and other applications of chemical ecology to environmental or dietary reconstruction. 

Studies using chemical approaches for environmental reconstruction (e.g., temperature, pH, salinity) or ecological reconstruction (e.g., habitat use, diet, or metabolism) using trace element and stable isotope analysis of shells, skeletons, and tissues are commonly used in marine and freshwater ecosystems. New methods and approaches continue to advance life history and environmental reconstruction using biogenic structures from marine and aquatic organisms. In some cases, the filtering of the chemical signal by the organism’s metabolism, energetic status, or by biomineralization processes can confound the environmental or ecological information.  These effects are often viewed as an artefact to be subtracted from the signal of interest (whether environmental or dietary reconstruction is the goal) but may also be an underutilized source of metabolic information. In this symposium, we encourage papers focusing on biomineral structures including shells, skeletons, otoliths and other chronometric structures used as chemical archives. We also encourage papers focused on animal tissues including eye lenses, muscle, and mineralized tissues (e.g., scales, bones, and spines). Studies focused on new methods, including techniques allowing for increased temporal resolution, increased sensitivity for measuring very small samples, or new signals in biological archives, are welcomed. 

   Experimental or observational studies on the following are encouraged:

  • Applications to environmental reconstruction, including climate change, hypoxia/deoxygenation, acidification
  • Applications to aid in age determination and other “calendar-clock” phenomena
  • Physiological or metabolic effects on trace element incorporation or isotopic composition of biominerals or tissues, including diet quality effects, hypoxia effects, or contaminant effects
  • Biomineralization effects on isotopic composition or trace element incorporation into chronometric structures (otoliths, corals, shells)
  • Compound-specific stable isotope approaches for understanding eco-physiology
  • Trace element incorporation into biominerals or tissues, viewed from a metabolic or physiological lens


Jessica Lueders-Dumont, [email protected], Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Postdoctoral fellow

Ben Walther, [email protected], Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Professor

Karin Limburg, [email protected], SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Professor

Matthew Ramirez, [email protected], University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Postdoctoral fellow

Arctic fisheries represent a cluster of biodiversity of marine, anadromous and freshwater fish and marine mammals in the Arctic world. As increase of cumulative effects from anthropogenic disturbance and natural fluctuation, arctic fisheries production and its sustainability have been experiencing unprecedented challenges, modification and opportunities for development of integrated fisheries management governance. This symposium prepares a platform to bring scientific researchers and stakeholders to work together for identification of sources of cumulative effects, criteria to define the ecological baseline, and strategies to monitor, assess and manage cumulative impacts on arctic fisheries production dynamics. Among cumulative effects, we will first focus on capacity and supportability of physical environment to address the inhabitability for arctic fisheries populations as dynamic changes of ice content, ice-cover and breakup period, warming and cooling thermal structure as well as river-lake interaction in spatial and temporal scales. Associated with those changes of quality and quantity of habitats, biological production and biodiversity are also driven by trophic connectivity and spawner-recruitment interplays of key fisheries populations. In terms of habitat dependence, many arctic salmonid population production is characterized by a vector of seasonal migration between coastal marine and freshwater systems. Therefore, the Arctic fisheries production largely benefited with inhabitability and food web supports as well as commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries production. In addition to limited quantity of harvest from recreational activities, arctic fisheries harvest is the primary food source for indigenous communities in the Arctic world. Integrated into entire fisheries removal from the natural system, Arctic fisheries seem to be sensitive and vulnerable to cumulative effects, differentiated by species and aquatic ecosystems or both combined. As increase of challenges in Arctic ecosystems, it is urgent for fisheries researchers and managers to take immediate actions for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable management of fisheries productivity under arctic regime shifts.  


Xinhua Zhu, [email protected], Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Research Scientist

Ross Tallman, [email protected], Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Research Scientist

The decline and subsequent recovery of Striped Bass along the Atlantic coast has served as an example of successful single-species management.  However, the coastal management of Striped Bass continues to face complex issues from both single species and ecosystem perspectives. Challenges include a persistent epizootic (mycobacteriosis), climate change, questions of ecosystem impacts, and fishing effects.  This symposium will serve as a forum for the presentation of retrospective/ historic analyses, current studies, and projections of the Atlantic Striped Bass stock status. The geographic scope of this symposium is not limited to the range of the main migratory stocks (Chesapeake Bay, Hudson River, and Delaware River), but may include other stocks with their own challenges.

Potential topics include:

  1. Elevated natural mortality, including disease dynamics, and its consequences.
  2. Aspects of disease (mycobacteriosis) including but not limited to: pathology, bacteriology, epizootiology.
  3. The role of forage on Striped Bass dynamics and potential effects of Striped Bass on forage and recovering populations of anadromous fishes.
  4. Environmental and habitat changes affecting reproduction, survival, and the spatio-temporal distribution of all life stages, including new information on fish movements and migration.
  5. Stock assessment challenges and/or approaches including information on fishery impacts such as discard mortality.  
  6. Recruitment processes, general biology, physiology and other aspects.

Mark Matsche, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Jim Uphoff, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Biologist

Alexei Sharov, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Sponsors: Fish Habitat Section, North Central Division Reservoir Technical Committee, Southern Division Reservoir Management Technical Committee

Reservoirs exist at the nexus of fish, habitat, and people, contributing greatly to fisheries and outdoor recreation in North America. The growth of recreational fishing dovetailed with the expansion of dam construction creating publicly accessible water resources across the continent, including in those areas lacking many natural lakes. The average age of these constructed systems now exceeds 65 years, and scientists and managers have learned a great deal in that time. The first reservoir symposium was published in 1967 and focused heavily on reservoir limnology and fish biomass and production. Subsequent symposia considered expanded topics, including angler surveys; fisheries management through stocking and regulations; economic valuation; and habitat management. The most recent symposium, held in 2007, went “beyond the shoreline” to encourage watershed-scale management and closer partnerships. Since then, dam infrastructure has continued to deteriorate, climatic perturbations have become more pressing, and anthropogenic demands have intensified, all while management agency resources have continued to stretch. This symposium will focus less on where we’ve been and more on the current state of reservoir science, with planned themes that include: renovating aging reservoir habitat through emerging best practices; multi-level (watershed- and ecosystem-level) management; standardized fisheries assessment; social importance and economic value; dam passage issues; and climate change resilience. Finally, the symposium will focus on planning for the future, recognizing the mounting pressures of political, climate, and societal change.


Rebecca Krogman, [email protected], Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Joseph Conroy, [email protected], Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Steve Sammons, [email protected], Auburn University

Jeremy Risley, [email protected], Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Sean Kinney, [email protected], Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Michael Homer, [email protected], Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Environmental DNA (eDNA) has revolutionized the science of species detection. However, emergent research is demonstrating that eDNA (and potentially eRNA) could provide a trove of genetic and ecological information beyond species presence or absence data. Novel research on understanding the dynamics of eDNA (e.g. its production, degradation, and transport) in nature are refining its application as a means to study or monitor population ecology, and emergent research has highlighted its potential to monitor population genetic information. In this symposium, we focus on leveraging data from eDNA (and eRNA) for purposes beyond traditional species presence/absence applications. We invite submissions from researchers and managers who are applying eDNA data to address such issues in fisheries management and conservation. Topics could include (but are not limited to) using eDNA to monitor/infer abundance in natural populations, understanding eDNA dynamics in nature to improve modelling efforts, eDNA as a source of population-level genetic information, eDNA for biomonitoring applications, eDNA to detect transgenic organisms, and emergent applications of eRNA. Presentations in this symposium will explore opportunities to use eDNA and eRNA to study population ecology and inform fisheries management outside of species detection applications, identify gaps in knowledge, and discuss potential limitations of such applications.


Matthew Yates, [email protected], UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal

Ian Bradbury, [email protected], Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Research Scientist

Paul Bentzen, [email protected], Dalhousie University, Professor

Louis Bernatchez, [email protected], Université Laval, Professor

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Its expansive watershed along the Atlantic Coast is home to many naturalized and invasive species. Some of these species have been established for decades while others are more recent invaders. The complex habitat types across the watershed make control and management of introduced species quite difficult. Not only does management need to occur across jurisdictional boundaries, but some of these species now have competing interests among stakeholders, with growing popularity of recreational and commercial fisheries. This symposium will focus on the growing body of research on life history, uses, and impacts of introduced species within the Chesapeake Bay.


Josh Newhard, [email protected], U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Climate change poses a serious threat to freshwater fish and fisheries across North America and the World. Combined with other human activities, climate change is stressing fish populations by warming water temperatures, shifting streamflow regimes, increasing extreme events (floods, drought, and wildfire), and facilitating species invasions. These changes could have serious effects on species distribution, abundance, phenology, and diversity – all of which will have important implications for fisheries resources and the humans that depend on them. This symposium will bring together freshwater fisheries experts across North America and the World to exchange current research on past, present, and future impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries; discuss challenges in communicating risks and uncertainties surrounding climate change; and explore innovative conservation and management approaches to mitigate and protect fisheries resources in a warming world. Together, this symposium will serve to measure new advances in climate science and uncover additional research needs for effective management and conservation of freshwater fishes.


Daniel Dauwalter, [email protected], Trout Unlimited, Scientist

Robert Al-Chokhachy, [email protected], Research Fish Biologist, USGS, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

Scott Bonar, [email protected], Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Unit Leader and Professor

Clint Muhlfeld, [email protected], Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Climate change represents a current and future threat to sustainable fisheries management. There is a pressing need for a better understanding of the role that climate plays on stock dynamics, the ability to accurately assess stock status, and the ability to make effective short- and long-term management decisions. A critical issue is that most fisheries management strategies today rely heavily on historical information on fish productivity and distribution and assume that species-ecosystem relationships are stationary over time. To support fisheries decision-making in a changing ocean, we need to accurately describe observed patterns and project the distribution and abundance of marine fish species under future climate and management conditions. This type of transformation, from a reliance on historical observations to forward-looking decision-making, will require research that integrates our knowledge of climate, fish, and fisheries systems.

This session invites talks that highlight research to inform marine resource decision-making under projected climate change, including research to: 1) identify and anticipate major ecosystem changes that impact fish stock productivity or distribution, 2) determine the role that such changes may have on the ability to accurately assess and manage fish stocks and on the fishing communities they sustain, and 3) evaluate robustness of current and alternative management strategies to such changes in stock productivity and distribution. We invite efforts that support tactical decision making (e.g., catch advice) and longer-term strategies (e.g., harvest control rules, catch shares, marine protected areas, recovery plans) in marine fisheries management. We encourage both case studies of application of climate-informed management and theoretical and integrated modelling approaches to improve management through consideration of climate impacts and human adaptation strategies.

Lisa Kerr, [email protected], Gulf of Maine Research Institute

John Wiedenmann, [email protected], Rutgers University

Jonathan Deroba, [email protected], Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Desiree Tommasi, [email protected], Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Kirsten Holsman, [email protected], Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Alan Haynie, [email protected], Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Sponsor: AFS Socioeconomics Section

Fishing communities face a variety of challenges from climate-driven changes in ocean conditions (e.g., ocean warming, acidification) as well as changes in the distribution and abundance of target species. These changes can affect fishing activity and have profound implications on livelihoods, economies, and cultures tied to fisheries. Given the pace and scope of expected climate impacts on marine, coastal, and freshwater ecosystems, there is a pressing need to understand, plan for, and respond to climate impacts on fishing-dependent communities.

This session invites talks that highlight efforts to understand or demonstrate social-ecological resilience of fishing communities in the face of changing climate conditions. This includes: social and economic impacts of climate change on fishing-dependent communities (including perspectives from under-represented communities), tools and indicators to assess fishing community vulnerability, and examples of adaptation, innovation, and transformation in fishing communities in response to climate-related stressors. The goal of the session is to share lessons learned, challenges and opportunities to build innovation and capacity for resilience in fishing-dependent communities.


Marina Cucuzza, [email protected], NOAA/NMFS, Climate and Fisheries Specialist (Knauss Marine Policy Fellow)

Roger Griffis, [email protected], NOAA/NMFS, Climate Change Coordinator

Kathy Mills, [email protected], Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Research Scientist

Mackenzie Mazur, [email protected], Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Gabriella Marafino, [email protected], NOAA OCFO, Budget Analyst (Knauss Marine Policy Fellow)

Karma Norman, [email protected], Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Social Scientist

Lisa Colburn, [email protected], Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Anthropologist

Aaron Sundmark, [email protected], Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fish IBI Biologist

Joshua Baine Etherton, [email protected], Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fisheries Biologist III

There has been considerable progress toward understanding and forecasting impacts of climate change on U.S. marine fisheries. There has also been the development of guidance to increase the production and use of climate and ecosystem science nationally. However, the application of climate-related information in the decision-making processes of U.S. Regional Fishery Management Councils has been more limited. The goal of this symposium is to identify best practices towards creating climate-ready fisheries locally and nationally by sharing examples where climate-related information (e.g., projections, risks, impacts, response options) has been explicitly incorporated into the decision-making process. Example tools and approaches may include (but are not  limited to) stock assessments with environmental covariates, climate or community vulnerability assessments, ecosystem reporting, dynamic ocean management, bycatch mitigation, management strategy evaluation (MSE),  scenario planning, multijurisdictional assessments and policy, and stakeholder-driven efforts to identify management challenges and adapt to a changing ecosystem. Submissions should note the opportunities and challenges; lessons learned; and policy, management, and ecosystem outcomes.


Michael Drexler, [email protected], Ocean Conservancy, Fisheries Scientist

Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman, [email protected], Ocean Conservancy, Senior Policy Analyst

Roger Griffis, [email protected], NOAA/NMFS, Climate Change Coordinator

Kristin Marshall, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries Scientist

Theresa Peterson, [email protected], Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Fisheries Policy Director

Corey Ridings, [email protected], Ocean Conservancy, Manager Fish Conservation

Michele Robinson, [email protected], Oceanbeat Consulting, LLC, Fisheries Consultant

Megan Williams, [email protected], Ocean Conservancy, Fisheries Scientist

Sponsor: AFS Cooperative Research with Stakeholders Section (CRSS)

The AFS Cooperative Research with Stakeholders Section (CRSS) is the newest AFS Section, and this symposium is the first symposium sponsored by the CRSS.  Fisheries stakeholders, especially commercial fishermen and recreational anglers, have insights that are vital for scientists and managers to effectively understand the dynamics of marine ecosystems and make informed management decisions.  Cooperative research can build trust in the contentious world of commercial and recreational fisheries science and management. This symposium will focus on presentations highlighting recent cooperative research progress and new horizons in freshwater and marine settings.  

We invite scientists, fishermen, and managers to describe recent and ongoing collaborative research efforts, including field research, socio-economic studies, modelling, and any other applied projects in this realm.  Additionally, we welcome talks about challenges in involving stakeholders in research (e.g., dealing with unexpected results, forming partnerships, securing funding, designing studies to meet management and science needs; conducting cooperative research during a pandemic), as well as how to effectively communicate findings to stakeholders. In accordance with the meeting’s theme of “Investing in People, Habitat, and Science,” we encourage joint presentations by scientists and their industry partners.  This symposium will include at least one panel discussion involving representatives from different stakeholder groups.


Lee Benaka, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Office of Science and Technology

Christopher McGuire, [email protected], The Nature Conservancy of Massachusetts

Richard McBride, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Sponsor: Prairie Fishes and Streams Collaborative

Increasing threats to aquatic resources demand new collaborative approaches. For large ecosystems, such as prairie streams, one state, one agency, or one research lab cannot be effective alone. Collaborative synthesis in ideas, data, and action is needed for restoration and preservation of prairie fish assemblages. However, this collaboration requires creative and innovative ideas, a common vision, good coordination among participants, and a clear plan for future action. In this symposium, we address the need for and approaches to the development of an interactive conservation plan that integrates the full community of agency managers, researchers and policy-makers associated with prairie ecosystems.
Prairie ecosystems once covered 2.8 million square kilometers of North America. Numerous Great Plains fish species have been declining for decades. Prairie stream ecosystems face unprecedented threats from surface and groundwater depletion caused by human development, stream fragmentation, invasive species, native species loss, energy development, and climate change. These stressors compromise the integrity and function of stream ecosystems and result in continued loss of native biota.
This symposium will serve as a forum for the presentation of retrospective and historic analyses, current studies, and projections to help provide directions for a future regionwide ecosystem-based synthetic conservation plan and guide future research on prairie fishes and ecosystems. The ultimate outcome is to foster broader landscape and riverscape efforts to preserve and protect these important native fish resources of the North American Great Plains before additional extirpations and extinctions result in irreversible ecosystem impact.

POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR PRESENTATIONS: Presentations that lead towards identification, synthesis and opportunities that contribute to:

1) Conservation Vision and Objectives such as: Management decisions, questions and data needs; Information needed to understand prairie fish communities; Governance and authority constraints opportunities; Regional conservation plans; and metrics of success for prairie stream ecosystems and fishes.

2) Existing Tools and Information Resources such as: Geography, hydrology and biotic communities of the prairie stream ecosystems; Current monitoring efforts and datasets related to prairie stream attributes, including species distributions, densities, stream reach use and physical conditions of streams; and Emerging sampling, analysis, genomic tools and future directions.

3) Information Gaps, such as life-history gaps of species, habitats and environmental stressors.

4) Resource Management Challenges, such as: Species recovery and habitat restoration; Ecological flows and water needs; Climatic, invasive, and human use threats to prairie streams and ecosystems; Policy for water, land use, and energy development; Socioeconomic and sociopolitical aspects; and Data management.


David Hu, [email protected], US Geological Survey

Sarah Gaughan, [email protected], Bellevue University

Patrick Kocovsky, [email protected], US Geological Survey

Martha Mather, [email protected], Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Kevin Mayes, [email protected], Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, SDAFS WWSC Chair

Dana Winkelman, [email protected], Unit Leader, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Cooperative US Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Melissa Wuellner, [email protected], University of Nebraska at Kearney

Jane Rogosch, [email protected], Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Interest in and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has exploded in fisheries, at academic institutions, at agencies, and within other sectors of society. DEI and equal opportunities (EO) are high priorities for professional groups that address resource conservation and use. The American Fisheries Society has spotlighted the important roles of DEI and EO with wide support from individual members. A great deal of productive and creative activity related to diversity and inclusion has been undertaken in the past and is presently ongoing. Future progress can be further augmented by taking a long view (temporally) with a wide lens (across groups) of the spectrum of existing DEI and Equal Opportunities Section (EOS) efforts. Consequently, this symposium provides a very broad “through line“ perspective to provide context for our present efforts, suggest opportunities for synthesis among ongoing efforts, and guide future directions. The symposium will collate perspectives from throughout AFS for eight general areas: (1) a strategy for planning and implementing positive cultural and institutional change including vision, goals, and successful outcomes; (2) a review of past efforts; (3) a diverse array of exciting new efforts from members of the AFS EOS; (4) barriers to diversity and inclusion; (5) some demographics; (6) profession-wide benefits of increased diversity, equity, and inclusion; (7) levers of change; and (8) desired future individual and society actions. This symposium complements present activities. We especially emphasize efforts for the most underrepresented groups within AFS: BIPOC, LGBTQ+, professionals with disabilities. We do not seek to promote a single point of view, but instead to showcase the diversity of efforts and encourage all groups to coordinate to address shared goals. Institutional knowledge will be a key takeaway from the symposium and is needed to better inform future initiatives. 


Martha Mather, [email protected], USGS Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Christine Moffitt, [email protected], AFS Past President, Emerita Professor, U of Idaho

Mary Fabrizio, [email protected], Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Professor

Donna Parrish, [email protected], USGS Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Brooke Penaluna, [email protected], Research Fish Biologist, USDA FS PNW Research Station

Shivonne Nesbit, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, West Coast Region

Brad Brown, [email protected], NOAA Emeritus

Sponsor: IBSS Corporation

Twenty years after the initial call for action (Clarke et al., 2001), ecological forecasting is still only in its infancy and the “emerging imperative” is even greater.  Ecological forecasting requires the integration of physical, biological, and social sciences. The term “forecast” also implies an end-to-end system from research and development to operational products and services including early alert and long-term assessments of critical resources, an important linkage for ecosystem-based fisheries management.  Progress has been slow due to the complexity, need for participation by multiple disciplines and organizations, and magnitude of basic research requirements as a prelude to operational capability. Challenges in determining what is relevant to making predictions must be balanced with new understanding of the evolving structure and function of ecosystems.

Considering climate and system change, fisheries decision making requires reliable forecasts of the ecosystem state, services, and natural capital. However, as with weather and climate, ecosystem baselines are shifting, and transient conditions are the “new normal.” We now face an altered set of questions about the natural world, and increased urgency to protect people, their fishery-based livelihoods, and their communities.  While weather forecasting developed under the critical eye of the public over one hundred years, similar major advances were being made in life and social sciences.  Sustained observing networks both terrestrial and oceanic are now established, advanced ecosystem models have been developed, in-situ biological observations are increasingly real-time, high resolution and digital, and decision-based methodologies have matured. However, much remains to be developed and implemented for ecological forecasting to achieve societal goals.

The proposed Symposium aligns with, and brings a unique perspective to, the AFS 2021 conference theme of “people, habitat and science”. The sessions will include leading scientists, managers and other stakeholders on this timely and complex topic, providing insights on the state of current research, applications for fisheries, and how to create a successful path forward to operational forecasts.  The sessions will help create understanding of real-world data and how fisheries ecology and meteorology intersect and can work together to solve certain ecological forecasting issues. Discussion will inform on human and system behavior, discuss a time frame that realistically could produce results and draw on multiple disciplines: fishery biologists, ecologists, sociologists, meteorologists, data scientists, modelers, and decision scientists as well as decision makers. Our closing session will be interactive and use small groups to identify near-term opportunities and collaborations for advancing ecological forecasting in the AFS community and beyond. [Ref: Clarke et al., 2001. Ecological Forecasts: An Emerging Imperative. Vol 293,Issue 55]


Laurie Allen, [email protected], IBSS Corp., VP Oceans & Coasts

Marie Colton, [email protected], IBSS Corp., VP Water, Weather, and Climate

Sponsor: NOAA Fisheries

This symposium seeks to highlight the efforts by the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) to enforce the laws that conserve and protect the marine resources and their natural habitat. In the United States, there are multiple regional OLE field offices, all specializing in specific regulations unique to their area yet supporting three overarching goals: to maximize fishing opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities; to recover and conserve protected species while supporting responsible fishing and resource development; and to improve organizational excellence and regulatory efficiency. OLE also works closely with federal, state, and local partners to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and supporting international fisheries; reducing seafood fraud; and interdicting wildlife trafficking. The protection of fisheries observers and their data is also a top priority, and OLE collaborates with industry, stakeholders, and agency partners to ensure observers can work in an environment safe and free from harassment. Regardless of the region, OLE develops innovative ways to support the core mission of NMFS. This symposium will provide members and participants an opportunity to share ideas and gain insight into tactics and strategies used by OLE to ensure that the marine resources will be sustainable and available for future generations. 


Jaclyn Smith, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement

Through habitat modification, barriers to fish passage and aquatic connectivity represent a significant threat to many aquatic ecosystems and fish populations. Numerous state and federal natural resource agencies, tribes, non-governmental organizations, and other entities have made it a priority to prevent, remove, or bypass barriers in order to reduce the effects of this form of human-driven environmental change on fish populations and fisheries. As a fisheries community, we have accomplished a lot in our collective efforts to increase awareness and aquatic connectivity. Through presentations ranging from design techniques, assessment tools, and policies, to partnership building, stakeholder engagement, and management strategies, this symposium will explore historical approaches, current innovations, and future opportunities to increase fish passage and aquatic connectivity across the landscape. For the 151th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, this symposium will celebrate how far we have come, but also highlight challenges going forward.


Michael Bailey, [email protected], USFWS, National Aquatic Habitat Coordinator

Cathy Bozek, [email protected], USFWS

Jessica Hogrefe, [email protected], USFWS

Susan Wells, [email protected], USFWS

Sponsor: AFS Fish Culture Section

In agriculture, welfare encompasses both the physical and mental health of an animal. Fish welfare is an aspect of fish husbandry that is often overlooked. Welfare can be negatively impacted by chronic and acute stress which can cause anorexia, weaken the immune system of fish and induce other physiological abnormalities. Post-shipment stress is one of the most important sources of mortality in ornamental fish. In food fish aquaculture, pre-slaughter stress has been shown to cause changes in the texture and quality of fish fillets. Thus, fish welfare is not just an ethical concern but a relevant issue for anyone that works with fish. This symposium will aim to explore a variety of aspects of fish welfare, including how welfare can be assessed in fish farms and in laboratory facilities and the use of water additives, sedatives and conditioning diets to reduce stress and improve fish welfare.


Jose Reyes-Tomassini, [email protected], Saint Francis University, Assistant Professor

Jeff Heindel, [email protected], McMillen Jacobs Associates, Project Manager

Michelle Walsh, [email protected], The College of Florida Keys, Marine Science Faculty

Sponsor: American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists (AIFRB)

Diversity strengthens our scientific community yet there are still many groups underrepresented within the field of fisheries science.  Studies have shown that hands-on research at the undergraduate level can help retain students through their graduate and professional careers.  One program providing such a hands-on experience is the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP).  PEP is a multi-institutional program organized by the scientific institutions located in Woods Hole, MA and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.  For over 13 years, PEP has been providing college juniors and seniors from underrepresented groups in marine and ocean sciences the opportunity to learn and conduct research alongside prominent scientists.  PEP also provides the broader Woods Hole community the opportunity to learn how to become a more inclusive community.  This symposium will highlight the mission and objectives of PEP as well as some of the research conducted by current and former students and their mentors.  We will also highlight contributions from similar programs that are working towards increasing diversity and inclusion in fisheries science and related educational programming.  This session is rooted in the theme of this year’s annual meeting of “Investing in People, Habitat, and Science” while also reflecting the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists (AIFRB) and the American Fisheries Society (AFS) commitment  to celebrating diversity in fishery science and recognizing the excellent work that is accomplished regardless of a scientist’s gender, race, or creed.  Together we can transform our field into one that is more representative of the world in which we live.

Sean Lucey, [email protected], Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Fisheries Biologist

Kwanza Johnson, [email protected], Northeast Fisheries Science Center

George Liles, [email protected], Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Douglas Zemeckis, [email protected], Rutgers University

Fondly called “America’s Estuary” by many, Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States with a watershed that extends from New York to Virginia. It was along these waters that European explorers first settled in the early 1500s, leading to the colonization of the continent in 1607. In addition to its role in the human history of the continent, the Chesapeake Bay is a powerhouse of fish and shellfish diversity and industry, exemplified by fisheries targeting iconic species such as the Striped Bass Morone saxatilis, Atlantic Menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus, blue crabs Callinectes sapidus and eastern oysters Crassostrea virginica. Since Pre-Columbian times, however, both fish diversity and industry have changed drastically; many previously bountiful species have declined, new species have thrived, and the livelihoods of local peoples have shifted away from traditional species and methods. This symposium will reflect on such changes and provide an outline of the present state of bay resources and a glimpse of the future of fish and fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay. We plan to highlight historical accounts of how and why we got here, commenting on the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of these changes, and their impacts on local fishers and communities. We will also feature case studies of successful recoveries and continuing challenges to sustainable management of species for the health of the ecosystem.  Finally, the symposium will provide a forum for resource managers to discuss current and novel approaches to curb the effects of climate change and to ensure equitable and sustainable management of local fisheries.


Vaskar Nepal, [email protected], Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Mary Fabrizio, [email protected], Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Professor

Troy Tuckey, [email protected], Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Senior Research Scientist

Sponsor: NOAA Fisheries

This symposium will focus on fishery-dependent monitoring and data analysis in marine and freshwater fisheries, with a strong emphasis on data collected by fishery observers and monitors.  Fishery observers/monitors are scientists who collect data from commercial fishing vessels and processing facilities to support conservation and management of fish stocks, protected species, and ecosystems.  Observers/monitors provide some of the only data available that are critically needed to inform protected species population assessments, which in turn provide essential information for reducing threats to these populations.  Symposium attendees will be able to connect with researchers and scientists who collect and analyze fundamental fishery-dependent data necessary to strengthen fisheries management.  This symposium will be of special interest to attendees who have worked as fishery observers/monitors and/or use observer data for research or management.  Topics covered by this symposium will include fishery-dependent data collection, analysis (including spatial analysis), and program design; bycatch estimation and assessment for protected resources and catch share fisheries; fishery observer risk and safety; and incorporating electronic technologies with human observing programs.  The organizers hope to include working observers as presenters, as well as office staff from the various observer/monitoring programs throughout the country.


Ken Keene, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries OST, National Observer Program Coordinator

Lee Beneka, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries OST

Sponsors: Aquatic Nuisance Species Taskforce, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Early detection of aquatic invasive species (AIS) using environmental DNA (eDNA) monitoring could help prevent establishment of invasive species.  Once an invasive species is detected, agencies may implement rapid response plans, develop regulations, or prioritize monitoring and eradication efforts.  In some cases, however, false positives and false negatives or inconsistent monitoring methods can undermine efforts and lead to poor investment of resources.  Despite the practical shortcomings, advancements in methodology and widespread interest in eDNA monitoring have promise for AIS programs.  The goal of the proposed symposium is to elucidate the practical role (if any) of eDNA monitoring in Early Detection and Rapid Response plans for AIS programs.  This symposium will feature invited speakers, include presentations from conference attendees, and focus on the costs and benefits of incorporating eDNA monitoring in AIS programs.


Joseph Love, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Planner

Jay Kilian, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Forage fishes have large impacts when compared to their rather diminutive sizes. These small schooling fish such as herrings, smelts and sand lances may account for 30% of global fisheries landings. In various roles when directly exploited or such as prey, forage fishes are important ecologically, culturally and economically. Nonetheless, they may be characterized as understudied as a whole and numerous species are in decline. The collapse of forage fish populations has substantial ecological impacts, particularly on dependent predator species which may be targeted by fisheries. While aspects of the basic biology of forage fishes may remain unknown, technological advancement has permitted previously impractical study of forage fishes. Various data types such as genomics, transcriptomics, and epigenomics are being applied to forage fishes that inform aspects of basic biology and lead to effective management of the species. In this symposium we bring together diverse taxa that are all forage fishes facing many of the same challenges and pressures. This session is open to contributed papers.


Matthew Campbell, [email protected], UC Davis, Visiting Scholar

Amanda Finger, [email protected], UC Davis, Associate Director, GVL

Sponsor: AFS Fish Culture Section

Captive rearing and supplementation has been a common tool in fisheries management in North America for over 150 years.  Applications include support for recreational and harvest-based fishing, restoration and recovery of declining populations, and genetic banking of valuable genotypes. Techniques are changing, and success stories are increasing. 

This symposium aims to build bridges within the fisheries community and demonstrate that new approaches are yielding improved success. Talks will focus on the following topics:

  • Strategies or tactics to reduce domestication of captive animals and increase survival and/or fitness post-release, including efforts to target fitness or adaptive variation in captive breeding programs
  • Efforts to incorporate a holistic approach to conservation goals through coordination with habitat restoration and evaluation to ensure strong phenotype-habitat matches to improve outcomes
  • Adaptive approaches to evaluating impact or success of release programs through connections between rearing, supplementing, and monitoring
  • Descriptions of advancements in rearing techniques fostering improved outcomes including genetics, nutrition, pathogen management, and operations
  • Descriptions of means to improve supplementation success through adapting release strategies or improving monitoring
  • Means to manage, diagnose, treat, or prevent disease outbreaks and pathogen exchange with novel approaches to operational techniques, feed regimes, or low-impact surveillance.


Nathan Wilke, [email protected], U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chief, Branch of Hatchery Operations and Applied Science

Jeff Heindel, [email protected], McMillen Jacobs Associates, Project Manager

Sponsor: Fish-MIP (The Fisheries and Marine Ecosystem Model Intercomparison Project)

Fish and other harvested marine life already now feel the impact of climate change. What is the future biogeography and production of harvested biomass in the global oceans: Which type of species will be winners, and which will be losers? Where will species move? Will marine ecosystems be able to produce the same amount of food for human consumption? And which type of food? How should society adapt to avoid overexploitation of changing oceans? These questions need to be addressed by the scientific community to assist societies in the planning for the climate changes that are already occurring and expected to be even stronger in the future. While we are increasingly confident about our ability to project the physical aspects of climate changes, our ability to project the impact on higher trophic levels is still developing and with many open questions.

This session seeks to review the current state of the art in our assessment of the impact of climate change on harvested biomass in the ocean (fish, shellfish, cephalopods etc.) and identify the most important open questions. We encourage submissions that increase our understanding of i) the processes that effect individuals, e.g., increasing temperature, decreasing oxygen, or acidification; ii) analysis of current and historic global biogeography and production of fish and harvesting; iii) model projections of future biogeography and production potential; iv) analyses of the consequences of future changes on fisheries management and on the economic potential of fisheries.


Ken Haste Andersen, [email protected], Technical University of Denmark, Professor

Julia Blanchard, [email protected], University of Tasmania, Associate professor

Colleen Petrik, [email protected], Texas A&M University, Assistant professor

Malin Pinsky, [email protected], Rutgers University, Associate Professor

Anglers play an important role in providing scientists and managers with valuable data about the state of our fisheries. And as new forms of electronic reporting come online, providing high resolution data that could barely have been imagined just a few decades ago, anglers are becoming ever more important to fisheries research. However, sustaining angler contributions to science over the long term remains a challenge. Participation rates often drop off because engagement with the angling community stops, and because the results of the research are not communicated back to the anglers in a timely manner. This symposium will highlight a diversity of projects that have been successful at engaging anglers, including the results of an AFS Task Force that has been focused on this issue over the past year. An important outcome of this symposium will be a better understanding of the best practices that are necessary to achieve long-term angler engagement. Consistent with our theme of engaging anglers, we are also proposing to recruit anglers to this symposium, thereby providing a unique opportunity to put these ideas into practice. Given the virtual aspect of the conference, this will make it accessible to anglers everywhere.


Sean Simmons, [email protected], Founder, Anglers Atlas

Paul Venturelli, [email protected], Ball State University, Associate Professor of Fisheries

Sean Landsman, [email protected], Carleton University

Julia Byrd, [email protected], South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Citizen Science Program Manager

Laura Oremland, [email protected], NOAA, Education Program Manager

Sponsor: NOAA Fisheries

Effective communication and engagement strategies targeting a variety of stakeholders is an essential component when managing fisheries. Effective engagement strategies will enable resource managers to better understand and share the ecological, social, and economic elements that may be affected by fishery management decisions. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is an effective strategy to explore, communicate and address multiple pressures on the state of natural resources and ecosystems. This symposia invites interested contributors to share examples of effective communications and engagement initiatives and highlight the key elements that helped advance effective fishery management decision-making.  Our goal is to share and highlight some of the best practices for presenting fisheries knowledge to diverse audiences.


Margaret (Peg) Brady, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Coordinator of Ecosystem & Habitat Science Programs

The Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) Program began with the passage of key funding legislation in 1950 (Dingell-Johnson Act) that has provided an un-paralleled revenue source to fund the restoration and conservation of America’s fish and wildlife and connect people with nature. Through this Act, billions of dollars have been utilized by state fish and wildlife agencies to conserve sport fisheries and habitats. This funding source is core to state fish and wildlife agencies’ missions, funding staff biologists, raising and stocking fish, conducting research, and improving and rehabilitating habitats.

The objective of this symposium is to highlight marine fisheries and habitat management along the Atlantic Coast funded by SFR. Efforts made by states along the Atlantic coast using Sport Fish Restoration funds range from direct species and habitat management to ecosystem-based research. While the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. boasts some of the best sport fisheries in the world, it has also endured habitat and fisheries specific declines which has required targeted efforts through data collection, regulations, and physical improvements to maintain and rehabilitate habitats and fisheries. Coastal management agencies have invested in fishery resources by building reefs, developing management plans and processes, collaborating through inter-state agreements, and seeking input from their constituencies to promote and protect coastal fisheries and habitat. The investments made through work funded by SFR and subsequent action exemplifies the meeting’s mission of “Investing in People, Habitat, and Science”. Speakers in the symposium will convey topics such as technology advancements, physical habitat improvements and protections, and fish behavior studies along the Atlantic coast from Florida to Maine. Talks will focus on the marine environment, including anadromous fisheries. This symposium will bring fisheries and habitat managers together to highlight results and stories through the SFR partnership along the Atlantic Coast.


Nicholas Popoff, [email protected], U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fisheries Biologist

Jim Uphoff, [email protected], Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Biologist

During the course of a long career, seasoned scientists acquire a lifetime’s worth of miscellaneous observations, disassociated data points, and irreconcilable results, that don’t provide enough evidence to support a conclusion, merit analysis, or produce a publication. Yet, based on our wealth of acquired wisdom and highly developed ecological intuition, we suspect that they may be pointing to some invaluable discovery that we are just on the cusp of making, if only we had another year, another grant, or another graduate student to pursue it. Over time, these random bits and bytes undergo a process of mental fermentation into one’s own Grand Theory of Everything, at least concerning our little area of specialization. And as we near retirement and obsolescence, we are more willing to proffer sweeping speculative predictions, based on only the flimsiest of evidence, and a plethora of personal prejudice, that we have no doubt will be proven by the next generation of scientists. If only they’d listen to us. Presenters in this symposium will break the bonds of accepted professional practice; they will not be restrained by lack of data or historical references. Nay, they will throw caution to the wind and declare their Grand Conclusions to the audience, challenging them to find the data to support or refute their bold predictions. They will step off the diving board and hope that, not only is there water in the pool, but also a life raft with a margarita bar.

We invite seasoned professionals to share lessons they learned the hard way, and mistakes made along the way; offer us a glimpse of partial data sets and circumstantial conclusions, with the goal of suggesting new and potentially profitable avenues of research for the future that will ensure our legacies as prophets of prescience. All with tongues firmly in cheeks. Let’s put the fun back in perfunctory!


Brad Stevens, [email protected], Professor (retired)

Smallmouth and other Black Bass species are economically important sportfishes, in many regions of the United States and elsewhere. Recently, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, mortalities of both adults and young-of-year, skin lesions, endocrine disruption as evidenced by intersex (testicular oocytes) and population declines have all been documented in various subwatersheds. Endocrine disruption has also been documented in the Great Lakes watershed and elsewhere. Bass appear to be sensitive to estrogenic endocrine disruptors which may influence reproductive health as well as the immune response to infectious agents. Other contaminants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can also influence fish health in many ways. This symposium will bring together investigators studying the influence of habitat and land-use attributes, chemical contaminants, established and emerging infectious agents on smallmouth bass health.


Vicki Blazer, [email protected], U.S. Geological Survey, Research Fishery Biologist

Sponsors: InFish Research Network, AFS International Fisheries Section, AFS Fish Habitat Section

Inland fishes provide important ecosystem services to communities worldwide, from food to recreation to livelihoods but they are especially vulnerable to the impacts of global change because of the isolated nature of freshwater habitat. Freshwater biodiversity and fisheries are confined to specific basins and have limited ability to migrate, unlike marine species or terrestrial species, and, consequently, limited ability to move to maintain optimal habitat conditions. With this limited buffering capacity, many inland fishes are not well-adapted to flooding, fires, drought, atypical temperate changes, and other extreme weather events (e.g., storms) which are becoming increasingly common. Global change has already led to hydrological changes and documented impacts on inland fishes. This symposium assembles a series of case studies examining the impacts of global change on inland fishes and fisheries and concludes with a panel discussion to explore the unique aspects of global change on inland systems, biodiversity, and fisheries and what the future holds for these important resources. The session will be synthesized to highlight why inland systems are particularly vulnerable to global change, what adaptive management responses are effective for inland fishes, and how actions now can improve the resilience of inland systems in the future.


Abigail Lynch, [email protected], USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center, Research Fish Biologist

T. Douglas Beard, Jr., [email protected], U.S. Geological Survey, National Climate Adaptation Science Center, Chief

Bonnie Myers, [email protected], U.S. Geological Survey, National Climate Adaptation Science Center, Research Fish Biologist

Renewable energy and sustainable seafood are both integral elements of a sustainable ocean economy.  Offshore wind development is imminent along the northeastern coast of the U.S. where there are currently 15 wind energy areas leased to developers between North Carolina and Massachusetts.  Offshore wind will be the first commercial-scale development of any kind in this region and there are many outstanding questions about its potential interactions  with the marine ecosystem, commercial and recreational fishing communities, and long term scientific assessments that collect data in support of fisheries management advice.  This symposium will examine the potential interactions of offshore wind on the Northeast U.S. shelf ecosystem, considering ecological, socio-economic, and fisheries management dimensions.  The first part of this 2-part symposium will report the findings from the Synthesis of the Science, a collaborative effort led by the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and  the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA).  The second part of the Symposium will focus on original research related to offshore wind and fisheries interactions.

Part 1).  Findings of the Synthesis of the Science Project:   
In 2019, RODA, BOEM, NOAA, and ROSA initiated a project entitled, Synthesis of the Science: Fisheries and Offshore Wind Interactions, with contributions from experts representing the scientific, fishing, and wind communities.  The primary goals of the project are to: Synthesize the existing knowledge on ecosystem, socio-economic, and fisheries management/data collection effects, as well as methods for research and monitoring; Examine how fish and fisheries interact with offshore wind; Identify gaps in knowledge; Make specific recommendations for future research needs to enhance our understanding of these interactions; and Establish a shared body of knowledge for industry, regulators, and fisheries managers.  This project will culminate in the production of a technical report with a projected completion date of late summer of 2021.  Speakers for this part of the symposium will include some of the project’s cross-sectoral contributors who will report the major findings and offer a roadmap for future research in this arena. 

Part 2).  Original Research Projects:   
For this portion of the symposium, speakers will present their original research related to interactions between offshore wind, fish, and fisheries, with the opportunity to discuss the potential applications of their research.  Research projects that address effects of offshore wind on ecology, fishery dynamics, socio-economics, as well as those that explore innovative study methodologies or other relevant topics would be considered.  


Elizabeth Methratta, [email protected], NOAA NMFS NEFSC / IBSS

Andrew Lipsky, [email protected], NOAA NMFS NEFSC

Anna Mercer, [email protected], NOAA NMFS NEFSC

Douglas Christel, [email protected], NOAA NMFS GARFO

Fiona Hogan, [email protected], Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA)

Ursula Howson, [email protected], BOEM Office of Renewable Energy Programs

Angela Silva, [email protected], NOAA NMFS NEFSC

Lyndie Hice-Dunton, [email protected], Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA)

Brian Dresser, [email protected], Tetra Tech, Inc.

Morgan Brunbauer, NYSERDA

Sponsor: AFS Fish Habitat Section

Climate change poses a long-term threat to resilient fish populations and their habitat. Increasing temperatures, changing patterns of disturbance, and sea level rise will affect the ability of marine and estuarine habitats to support fish production, and changes to these habitats are rewriting the known dynamics and interactions of fish populations and their marine communities. This symposium will explore work that has been done to understand these habitat changes, assess the interacting effects of disturbances from climate as well as other pressures (e.g. shoreline development, sea level rise, invasive species, etc.), and assess population responses to these habitat changes. In addition this session will examine ways this science can improve management efficiency, help identify the highest priority habitats for protection and restoration, and be used to develop approaches and management tools for restoring resilient habitats and populations and advancing ecosystem-based management. Conserving fish habitat and managing for habitat resilience will boost fish populations, maintain a healthy ecosystem, and support resilient coastal communities.


Jessica Coakley, [email protected], Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Fishery Management Specialist

Ian Lundgren, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation, Essential Fish Habitat Coordinator

Lampreys represent one of the most basal extant lineages of fish and have existed on earth for >400 million years. Many lamprey species are conservation targets, but one species (sea lamprey) is an invasive pest. With more than 70% of extant lamprey species of conservation concern, interest is growing in research that relates to answering basic biological and ecological questions to better inform conservation and management. However, there is much to be gained from the extensive work on sea lamprey and comparisons between species are likely to be fruitful for both conservation and control. This symposium seeks to review current and ongoing lamprey research, while also providing a forum to foster discourse and collaboration for future studies. Research that demonstrates the interconnectedness of lamprey and other species, including humans, is especially encouraged.


Thomas Evans, [email protected], St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Keala Pelekai, [email protected], Oregon State University

Sponsor: AFS Fish Habitat Section

Globally, increases in river and stream water temperatures are threatening habitats of economically important and culturally relevant cold-water fishes such as salmonids. Climate change impacts on water temperature are exacerbated by human activities, including water use (irrigation, hydropower, etc.) and land-use changes (e.g., agriculture, forestry, urbanization). In this context, river thermal heterogeneity becomes even more important as fish require a diversity of habitats to complete their life cycle and access to cold water patches when temperatures rise. Indeed, when fish experience thermal stress, they thermoregulate by moving into cold-water patches termed cold-water refuges (e.g., upstream shaded areas, tributaries, groundwater upwelling zones). Cold-water refuges protect fish from unfavourable high temperatures and allow them to evade potentially life-threatening metabolic consequences of thermal stress. The goal of this symposium is to highlight current research, developments, and challenges associated with understanding formation and persistence of cold-water refuges, cumulative benefits and trade-offs of their use for thermoregulation, and the social context in which they occur. We welcome presentations and posters examining the fundamental processes driving cool water refuges, their biotic significance, and their management in temperature-impacted river systems, and that foster exchange of knowledge across taxa and range of river catchment types and sizes.


Valerie Ouellet, [email protected], NOAA

Danielle Frechette, [email protected], Maine Department of Marine Resources

Francine Mejia, [email protected], USGS

Ecosystems are experiencing directional changes that, in many cases, have resulted in transformations to novel systems providing new or different services.  This trend is predicted to continue and become more common-place.  Management of these transforming systems needs to consider a range of possible goals and outcomes beyond historical norms.  The RAD (Resist, Accept, Direct) framework encompasses this range of considerations, from working to maintain historical norms (Resist), to accepting and adapting to the changes that are occurring (Accept), or working to facilitate the transformation of an ecosystem into one that is different from past conditions, but more likely resilient to future conditions and providing useful services (Direct).

This session invites presentations that explore real-world examples of any of the three approaches (Resist, Accept, Direct) being employed in aquatic systems, discuss their pros and cons, and provide guidance on when to apply the various approaches.


Jay Peterson, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries, Fish Biologist

Abigail Lynch, [email protected], USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center, Research Fish Biologist

Mark Porath, [email protected], Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Aquatic Habitat Program Manager

Native fish diversity in lakes has declined over the past century owing to numerous anthropogenic stressors, such as habitat degradation, eutrophication, and invasive species.  In conjunction with efforts to reduce these stressors, managers are seeking to restore native fishes and produce more resilient and sustainable fisheries.  Native fish restoration, however, has been most commonly practiced and studied in streams and rivers as exemplified by a recent synthesis (Dauwalter et al. 2019).  Lake ecosystems offer unique challenges, particularly in larger systems where habitat restoration can be more difficult to undertake, and stocking has been the most commonly deployed restoration tool.  In this symposium, we seek to learn from past and ongoing efforts in other lakes to inform native fish restoration in the Laurentian Great Lakes-where a multi-agency program to restore native coregonine fishes is beginning.  This symposium offers an opportunity for Great Lakes scientists and managers to be inspired and informed not only by lessons learned from previous efforts in other systems but also by nascent research and efforts from colleagues across the Great Lakes basin- which spans more than 750 miles (including 8 states, the province of Ontario, and multiple tribes and First Nations) and supports billion-dollar fisheries. 


David Bunnell, [email protected], US Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center

John Dettmers, [email protected], Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Data from fishery-dependent and fishery-independent monitoring programs are commonly used in fisheries stock assessment to provide effective management. Those data include but are not limited to catch, effort, composition information, tagging data, or information of biophysical interactions. Resource monitoring programs sometimes have missing data due to weather, vessel unavailability, survey effort reduction, or other issues. Approaches to handling missing data can have implications for subsequent analysis and modeling. With this symposium, we seek to provide a platform for fisheries managers and researchers to review common causes and types of missing data in their resource monitoring programs, as well as assessment-based approaches to dealing with missing data. We welcome a range of topics, including the following: (1) types of missing data that have a relatively larger impact on assessments, (2) influence of frequency and duration of missing data on assessments, and (3) a general review of a variety of methods that deal with missing data in stock assessment. We look forward to discussing how the experience of missing data helps us rethink and improve future data collection procedures, as well as opportunities and challenges in developing new techniques that can address missing data in fisheries stock assessment and management.


Bai Li, [email protected], ECS Federal in support of NOAA Fisheries

Kisei Tanaka, [email protected], NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Felipe Carvalho, [email protected], NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Haley Oleynik, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology

Jennifer Samson, [email protected], NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

Christine Stawitz, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology

Sponsors: Water Quality Section, Fish Habitat Section

Water quality impairments come from a variety of pollutants and can impact the ability of fisheries to persist as defined by the Clean Water Act. Thermal impairments are particularly detrimental to coldwater fisheries and are increasingly challenging for state environmental and natural resource agencies to manage. Thermal impairments are often caused by human driven alterations of hydrologic regimes by the expansion of impervious surfaces, agricultural production, and riparian deforestation. Through addressing thermal impairments there is an expanding body of theoretical and applied scientific knowledge that can help water resource managers support coldwater resources and maintain fish thermal guilds. Current research efforts include modeling stream temperature, developing total maximum daily loads, evaluating cost-effective solutions, and assessing future climate scenarios. Challenges to addressing thermal impairments include jurisdictional differences in water quality standards, communicating analysis results and restoration needs, and addressing the pervasive effects of climate change. This symposium will provide a forum for water resource managers and practitioners to share technical information on how to restore and safe-guard coldwater resources, discuss challenges associated with working with multiple entities to improve temperature conditions, and consider techniques for communicating implementation needs to constituents.


Paul Kusnierz, [email protected], Avista

Jonathan Leiman, [email protected], Maryland Department of the Environment

This symposium aligns with the AFS 150th theme: “Learning from the past, meeting challenges of the present, advancing to a sustainable future.” Fish conservation and management has made tremendous strides, largely driven by methodologies non-existent in late 20th/ early 21st centuries, and few disciplines parallel technological advances of molecular ecology and conservation genetics. Fish stocks, previously propagated by manually selecting phenotypes, are now characterized by molecular genomic techniques.

The symposium highlights the evolution of molecular approaches by illustrating historic, contemporary, and futuristic perspectives. Speakers will review previous challenges and legacy approaches, and how subsequent state-of-the art approaches overcame and the former and enhanced the latter. Early-career professionals who never experienced the tedium of manual genotyping should be enlightening by such insights. Students and postdocs will present ongoing research showcasing contemporary analytical approaches, while luminaries in the field will offer horizon-scans that not only delineate anthropogenic challenges in coming decades, but also potential solutions. Interdisciplinary speakers will introduce technologies related to genetics/genomics, such as automated eDNA sampling, field-deployable molecular labs, and smart-phone tools. 

There is also a cautionary tale: History repeats itself with each technological advancement opening opportunities, but also pitfalls, and early enthusiasm matures into a more realistic perspective.


Marlis Douglas, [email protected], University of Arkansas

Michael Douglas, [email protected], University of Arkansas

Decisions on when, where, and how much fisheries field data to collect necessarily include considerations of spatial scale. Spatial scale decisions are also directly or indirectly embedded in the interpretation of field data. Many fisheries professionals execute excellent plans for collection, analysis and interpretation of field data. Yet, few fisheries professionals are completely satisfied with the final version of any field dataset because of the uncertainty that is an inevitable component of field sampling. Unresolved issues related to spatial scale persist in fisheries even though our understanding of this critical issue has advanced substantially in recent years.  Problems with which many field biologists regularly grapple include: (1) challenges and tradeoffs of choosing spatial scale in field studies, (2) the difficulties of matching scale across field projects, and the (3) limited implementable guidelines for making scale decisions. These topics are especially difficult for field sampling in geographically large aquatic systems. 

 In this symposium, fisheries professionals with diverse expertise will contribute their insights about status and current options for choosing scale, based on their experience collecting, analyzing, and interpreting field data.  Individual participants from different disciplines who work with varied taxa in different ecosystems for assorted employers will summarize existing strengths, weaknesses, and tradeoffs for scale choice and consequences for data interpretation, based on their professional experience.  We also ask these varied experts to explore status and options for matching scale across studies. 

 We do not seek to retread thoughtful well-traveled ground on this topic. We acknowledge that many fisheries professionals have expert knowledge of field sampling procedures. Instead, we seek to synthesize how current status and options will affect future success.  Consequently, we also ask participants to identify information needs in their area of expertise relative to spatial scale including what information, related to scale, is needed to better advance understanding and prediction.  We close with a summary and panel discussion of potential future goals and guidelines for thinking about, choosing, interpreting, and matching scales that can benefit a diverse group of fisheries professionals as we move forward into the 21st century.


Sean Hitchman, [email protected], St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Joseph Smith, [email protected], NOAA Fisheries

Martha Mather, [email protected], USGS Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Sponsor: AFS Science Communication Section

Effective science communication can influence everything from policy development to initiating action from private citizens, but due to political polarization, a deepening distrust in science, and an increasingly fragmented mediascape, communicators face many challenges.

This symposium seeks to engage students, scientists, biologists, managers, and any other stakeholders in structured discussions about fisheries-related science communication. In contrast to a more traditional format of single presenters delivering presentations to an audience, the symposium will embrace the “dialogue model” of science communication by providing a platform for iterative conversations among audience members and single presenters or small panels of experts. This format in itself models best practices in science communication.

Symposium time blocks will be discussion-based by nature and organized around different topics selected from ideas pitched by potential presenters. Each presenter or each small panel of experts will be asked to facilitate discussion on their topic among audience members. We will solicit discussion topics on lessons learned from past successes and failures as well as strategies for addressing present-day and future science communication challenges.


Sean Landsman, [email protected], Carleton University

Julie Claussen, [email protected], Fisheries Conservation Foundation, Fisheries Biologist

Katie O’Reilly, [email protected], Notre Dame University

Solomon David, [email protected], Nicholls State University

Whitewater River Parks and Biota – Shifting a Paradigm

Instream whitewater parks in the United States and Canada continue to grow in numbers. The first in-river whitewater park was built in Denver in 1975, but only a hand full were built over then next 20 years.  Recent venues built in Ann Arbor Michigan; Boise, Idaho; Bend, Oregon; and Columbus, Georgia have demonstrated phenomenal economic growth, revitalized entire cities, and focused the public on the value of rivers.  They have sparked interest in water quality from the public, resulted in maintaining flows in rivers and have gotten people away from their screens and back into the outdoor environment.  However, some projects have had negative impacts on the passage of native fish and recently have come under additional scrutiny by the USACE.

This AFS symposium will offer perspectives from, fisheries scientists, regulators, project sponsors, and whitewater course designers from around the country. Projects from in the North, South, East, and West will be represented. This symposium will provide a unique opportunity to establish collaborative leadership in this specialty that collaborates project owners,
regulators, designers and users.


Richard McLaughlin, [email protected], McLaughlin Whitewater, Surface Water Practice Leader

Cary Denison, [email protected], Trout Unlimited, Gunnison Basin Project Manager

Tonya Bonitatibus, [email protected], Riverkeeper, Executive Director Savannah Riverkeeper

Sponsor: Fisheries Information and Technology Section

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of everyday life, including the amount of time that people have for recreation, and how they choose to spend it.  Emerging evidence suggests that an increased demand for socially distanced outdoor recreation opportunities and a reprioritization of travel has led to changes in fishing license sales, angler demographics, and angler behavior in many areas.  This symposium will feature research that leverages datasets of angler behavior such as license purchase data, creel survey data, or other human dimensions work  to shed light on the impact of the pandemic on fisheries resources and stakeholders in 2020 that can be used to better prepare for the future. It will also feature research that uses the pandemic as a natural experiment to provide rare and important insights into myriad aspects of fisheries resources and users that can be used to design and improve efforts to recruit anglers as well as to better serve their evolving needs.


Tiffany Hopper, [email protected], Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Sponsor: AFS Socioeconomics Section

Understanding stakeholder perceptions about fisheries management is essential for creating effective regulatory measures. To better inform adaptive management, more needs to be understood about fishers’ perceptions of management. Perceptions can change over time and differ among fishers. Understanding management perceptions is especially important to increase compliance when regulatory measures cannot be easily enforced. However, it can be challenging to incorporate fishers’ perspectives into fisheries management decisions. This symposium aims to highlight the importance of stakeholder perceptions of fisheries management and how these perspectives can be used to better inform management decisions. This can include, but is not limited to, aspects that affect fishers’ perceptions of fisheries management, changes in perceptions over time, methods to identify fishers’ perceptions, and incorporating perceptions into decision-making.


Mackenzie Mazur, [email protected], Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Gabriella Marafino, [email protected], NOAA

Joshua Baine Etherton, [email protected], Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fisheries Biologist III

Aaron Sundmark, [email protected], Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Private angler-reported recreational fishing activity and catch via mobile applications, continues to be an evolving aspect of engaging citizens in the fisheries management and science and in helping to bolster the breadth of data collection for state, federal, council, and commission partners. While engagement of interested public is productive for agency-public relationships, the vast number of customizable applications, particularly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S., have a variety of intents and core questions asked. Standardization of key data fields would provide more useful data for use in stock assessments by assuring data are collected in the same manor and would be compatible for consolidation and use. This symposium will highlight overlap in current application standards and questions and will provide guidance for future standardization in order to assure data collection and storage is streamlined and useful to data users. These data will be used for potential inclusion in recreational fishery management and in stock assessments as a supplemental data source to the general estimates produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Recreational Information Program.


Alex DiJohnson, [email protected], ACCSP, Team Lead

Sub-tropical inland fisheries are characterized by multi-species assemblages of diverse sizes, occurring in various habitats. Fish is a key source of food and nutrition security for socio-economically marginalised communities around the world, especially in developing countries. The livelihoods of riparian communities are closely tied to the dynamics of these resources. These fisheries are faced with various management challenges, accentuated by lack of adequate human and financial resources. Various exploitation patterns characterize these fisheries, because of their different use values to communities. While bigger sized fish species are exploited commercially making them a key source of trade, smaller sized fish species are a major source of household food and nutrition security. Pandemics and climate change (CC) constitute some of the two major challenges facing inland fisheries management. The impact of these challenges is more acute in the developing world where inland fisheries play a key role in food and nutrition security. Furthermore, pandemics and CC pose a major challenge to developing countries to attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). By their nature, sub-tropical fisheries are a perfect interplay of people, habitat and livelihoods; hence management of these resources needs innovative science approaches.

The aim of this session is to discuss challenges facing inland fisheries management in the developing world, with specific reference to anthropogenic impacts driven predominantly by CC and pandemics. It is envisaged that CC will affect the productivity of inland fisheries systems, which might adversely affect provision of fish for the wellbeing of socio-economically marginalised communities. Some impacts of CC on fish production systems may include increased disease incidences, spawning failure and habitat degradation. Pandemics such as COVID-19 affect the entire fish value chain, with a detrimental impact on access to fish resources. Some impacts of pandemics may include restricted access to fish which may result in increased household poverty, business failure due to either moratoria on fishing operations or disease morbidity on the fishing community. Invariably, both CC and pandemics decrease the ability of countries to achieve the SDG’s. Therefore, this calls for innovative management approaches that will ultimately assist communities to adapt to these challenges and continue to benefit from fish resources. Papers in this session will address these core issues and propose or demonstrate innovative management approaches in sub-tropical inland fisheries when faced with these challenges. 


Ketlhatlogile Mosepele, [email protected], Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Professor

Sponsor: Invasive and Introduced Species Section

Since establishment of the American Fisheries Society in 1870, the management of nonindigenous introductions has been a priority. North American freshwater fisheries have been impacted by the release of invasive and introduced species, both intentional and accidental, sanctioned, and unauthorized over the past 150 years. Impacts range in size and scope from small-scale and localized to wholesale shifts in ecosystem function impacting fisheries-important species and those of conservation concern alike. This symposium aims to bring together biologists, managers, and researchers to describe invasion histories of various species within each decade of the American Fisheries Society’s 150-year existence. This symposium will examine management lessons learned through the history of aquatic introductions across North America, the impacts associated with introduced species, and future approaches for managing nonindigenous species introductions. Proceedings of this symposium will be aggregated into a manuscript developed for the Society’s journals.


Nathan Lederman, [email protected], Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Kevin Irons, [email protected], Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Wesley Daniel, [email protected], U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Marybeth Brey, [email protected], US Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Matthew Neilson, [email protected], U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Gregory Whitledge, [email protected], Southern Illinois University

Sponsor: Climate Ambassadors Program

Climate change is a pervasive threat to aquatic ecosystems imperiling fish, fisheries, and livelihoods. For decades, fisheries scientists have studied the impacts of climate change across a wide range of ecosystems and species and researched ways to mitigate or adapt to a warmer world. While this research has been the foundation of many important conservation actions, there remains a gap between fisheries research and societal action on climate change. In this symposium, ambassadors from the AFS Climate Ambassadors Program will highlight some of the groundbreaking ways fisheries scientists are communicating about climate change to diverse audiences. Participants will leave with a set of tools for communicating the importance of their own work and feeling inspired about the future of fisheries research on climate change.


Helen Killeen, [email protected], UC Davis, Coastal & Marine Science Institute, Ph.D. Candidate

Julie Claussen, [email protected], Fisheries Conservation Foundation, Fisheries Biologist

Drue Winters, [email protected], American Fisheries Society, Policy Director

Ecological resilience has been defined as a system’s ability to withstand shocks and disturbances while maintaining critical relationships and functions, or alternatively, as the ability of a system to regain fundamental structures, processes, or functions following a disturbance event. Resilience theory provides a conceptual framework for understanding how ecological systems might respond to natural and anthropogenic disturbances at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Therefore, resilience thinking contributes an invaluable set of principles with which to guide the management of freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams, as these systems are particularly threatened by factors such as human population growth, landscape development, and climate change. However, resilience is an emergent property that cannot be directly measured; we must instead develop and quantify indicators of capacity that describe characteristics expected to confer resilience to species, communities, or habitats of interest. This symposium is intended to highlight how novel approaches and indicators of ecological resilience can be used to inform the conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems, fisheries, and fishes. We welcome talks from a range of subdisciplines (e.g., freshwater ecology, fisheries management, policy) that revolve around two central themes. The first theme extends from the principle that ecological resilience is positively associated with components of assemblage diversity and redundancy, such that critical relationships and functions should be expected to persist where these assemblage attributes have been maintained. Contributions might consider these attributes directly or factors that support such attributes including structural diversity and habitat heterogeneity or resource and refugia availability. They may also describe critical thresholds beyond which key relationships, structures, or functions might be lost. The second theme is concerned with managing connectivity within freshwaters, as connectivity is expected to promote ecological resilience by supporting processes such as dispersal and recolonization. Here, contributions might discuss connectivity parameters theorized to mediate a system’s ability to regain fundamental structures, processes, or functions following disturbances such as floods and droughts. This list is neither exhaustive nor restrictive, and other relevant topics will be given consideration. Ultimately, the goal of this symposium is to foster a broad discussion about indicators of ecological resilience and showcase how these indicators can be used to inform the conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems, fisheries, and fishes.


Kyle Brumm, [email protected], Michigan State University

Dana Infante, [email protected], Michigan State University