Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes, 1st and 2nd Eds.
Standardization in industry, medicine and science has led to great advances. However, despite its benefits, freshwater fish sampling was generally unstandardized, or at most standardized locally. Standardization across large regions allows for measurement of large-scale effects of climate or geography on fish populations; larger sample sizes to evaluate management techniques, reliable means to document rare species; easier communication; and simpler data sharing. With increased interaction among fisheries professionals worldwide, reasons for wide-scale standardization were more compelling than ever. The Fish Management Section of the American Fisheries Society in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, USGS Cooperative Research Units Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, AFS Education and Computer User’s Sections, and Arizona Game and Fish Department developed standard sampling methods for North America. This was the largest such project in the history of fisheries science. Almost 50 United States, Canadian and Mexican fish sampling experts authored a book on the subject. These methods were reviewed by 54 representatives from 33 North American agencies and by biologists from six European and one African country. Final drafts were reviewed by an additional 36 sampling experts. In total 284 biologists from 107 agencies and organizations contributed as authors, reviewers, data providers and sponsors. Standard Methods for Sampling North American Freshwater Fishes, was published in 2009, and described standard methods to sample fish in specific environments so population indices can be more easily compared across regions and time. Environments include ponds, reservoirs, natural lakes, streams and rivers containing cold and warmwater fishes. This book provides rangewide and regional averages; calculated from over 4000 data sets from 42 states and provinces; of size structure, CPUE, growth, and condition for common fishes collected using methods discussed. Biologists can use these data to determine if fish from their waterbody are below, above, or at average for an index. These procedures will be useful to those hoping to benefit from standard sampling programs in their regions. Since publication, these methods are being increasingly adopted across North America. Three symposiums at the North American meeting of the American Fisheries Society have been held; and numerous presentations on the techniques throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada have been given. Furthermore, keynotes have also been invited and presented in the United Kingdom, South Korea and the Czech Republic discussing the techniques. Publications concerning this work since 2016 have been published in Fisheries, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, and Freshwater, Fish and the Future: Proceedings of the Global Cross-Sectoral Conference at FAO, United Nations, Rome. Now a 2nd edition is underway with unanimous support from the Fisheries Management Section of the American Fisheries Society. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies also is funding the 2nd edition. Surveys of biologists across North America were conducted to identify needed updates to the 2009 edition. In a query of agencies across the United States and Canada, and purchasers of the first edition 106 responses were obtained (90 state, provincial or federal agencies, 8 university, 7 private/NGO, and 1 other). Of these, 50% were using these AFS standards most or all the time; 45% about half the time or sometimes, and 5% never. Standards were working moderately to extremely well for 90% of respondents, but not well at all to slightly well for 10%. Suggestions given to improve AFS standard sampling methods included slight adjustments to specific gear types, conversion methods with older gears, and methods to convince staff about the importance of standardization. These survey results are being used to design the new book. Authors for the 2nd edition were chosen, chapters were written and submitted, and chapters are now being sent out to select members of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies across the nation, and to select biologists in the US, Canada, and Mexico for review.