This past April I received a special opportunity from the International Section of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) and Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI) to attend the 2014 Annual Meeting for FSBI in Hull, U.K. Having recently graduated with my Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Idaho, I had thought travel awards were beyond my reach. Thankfully, I was mistaken.
I arrived in Hull, U.K. on July 6, 2014 with the AFS President, Bob Hughes, and the Canadian Conference of Fisheries Research travel award recipient, Courtney Holden. We were greeted at the airport by Dr. Ian Cowx, who graciously and safely transported us to our lodging at the beautiful Thwaite Hall in Cottingham, despite driving on the wrong side of the road.
The symposium theme of the 2014 FSBI meeting was “Integrated Perspectives on Fish Stock Enhancement.” The meeting began with a full day workshop devoted to updating the European Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisory Commission (EIFAAC) Protocol on Stocking and Introductions. It was a honor to participate in this workshop and extremely interesting to hear about stock enhancement and stocking strategies throughout Europe and many of the Commonwealth of Nations. Given my background from the Pacific Northwest of North America, I was surprised to see just how wide-spread and, in some instances, problematic our precious rainbow trout, O. mykiss had become in other parts of the world.
The actual meeting symposium began on Tuesday July 8, 2014 and was held at the University of Hull. Presentations and presenters for the symposium covered a wide range of topics ranging from the ecological and genetic impacts of stock enhancements to the institutional dimensions and governance of stocking. Unlike many symposia that that can be extremely narrow and ecology-focused, the topic of stock enhancement encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including economics and sociology. A particularly interesting subject to me was the trade-offs of introducing non-native fish species in developing countries for food security and economic development. Native fish preservation and restoration has been my primary focus throughout my educational and professional career, thus the idea of introducing non-native fish species to any water body was alarming. However, after seeing the nutritional and economic benefits that non-native fish species have had on many starving and impoverished communities, it quickly became apparent that this was not a black and white issue.
I have always wanted to visit the United Kingdom, but I never thought that my fisheries studies would take me there. The 2014 FSBI meeting a great educational experience and I met many new international colleagues. There is much to be said for smaller meetings where conference attendees eat breakfast and travel to and from the venue together. It was a great way to get to know other conference attendees in addition to being a great setting for attendees to share their research and resident fisheries issues. I have never felt so welcomed at a fisheries conference and I extend my sincerest gratitude to FSBI President Dr. Ian Winfield and Dr. Ian Cowx for their generous hospitality throughout the week. This was my first time traveling across the pond and I look forward to making the trip in the future.