EARLY HISTORY OF THE INTRODUCED FISH SECTION: THE FIRST DECADE.
William L. Shelton, Zoology Department, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019
The origin and development of an organization gives a glimpse of history, but also provides information on an early trajectory. The articulated scope and objectives of a group of individuals with a common interest might be considered insightful, but retrospect can be used to measure attainment of goals. The Introduced Fish Section (IFS) had its beginnings as the Exotic Fish Section (EFS), but a nuclear movement preceded both. The section (IFS/EFS) has been an active and productive one, although throughout its history, never one that commanded majority participation on the scale of the complement of AFS membership. Nevertheless, it has provided a means of valuable activity for a core group. Many important symposia have been conceived and produced from the collection of gray-matter interacting in this sub-set of AFS members. A brief recollection of these roots may only be of casual interest to some, but on the other hand it might provide some useful ideas for the contemporary membership.
The concept of the EFS/IFS had its start in a committee that was reactivated by American Fisheries Society President Richard Stroud (1979-1980). An earlier Committee on Exotic Fishes had submitted a position statement on Introductions of Exotic Aquatic Species, at the 102nd AFS annual meeting in Hot Springs, AR in 1972; it was approved by the membership at the business meeting. In September of 1979, President Stroud appointed James A. McCann (chair) and 14 members *(see table footnote) to a resurrected Exotic and Ornamental Fish Committee. His charge was to:
1) provide recommendations concerning release of exotic and transferred species; and work with the
Fish Culture Section on problems related to the use of exotics for aquaculture;
2) provide up-to-date information on the distribution, status and impacts of exotics in waters of the U.S.;
3) develop protocols to evaluate exotic species before importation into the U.S. for release into open
waters of the Nation, and evaluate species being considered for importation and release into open
waters of the U.S.;
4) publish a list of exotic species of fish and other aquatic organisms considered to be undesirable for
importation into North America other than for strictly controlled and monitored scientific and
5) assist in the development of effective regulations to stop the introduction and establishment of harmful
The new committee met first at the Southern Division, AFS meeting in Hot Springs, AR in October 1979; the committee compiled a preliminary list of exotic species for further consideration. A final list was developed, and evaluations were prepared based on literature surveys. The committee categorized these fishes as to whether they should be considered, “harmful, potentially harmful, beneficial, or in need of more data”. Subsequently, members were asked to judge whether each fish should be “… restricted for use, importation or release….”. More information was considered necessary for eight species from the original list; FAO-style synopses were prepared with funding supplied by the National Fishery Research Laboratory (aka – Exotic Fish Laboratory, FWS; now the Florida-Caribbean Science Center, USGS) that had been established in Gainesville, FL ca. 1977. Since many of the issues raised by Stroud in his charge to the Exotic and Ornamental Fish Committee were within the purview of the lab, McCann as director, was able to use resources of that facility. Actual construction of the laboratory structure was delayed until 1984-85. Another important facility development was the Exotic Fish Laboratory of Florida that had been established in 1973 at Boca Raton. Personnel from these two laboratories and some of their colleagues from the region were the early “shakers and movers” in organizing the section.
The activities of the committee stimulated interest in forming an Exotic Fish Section (EFS) within the AFS. A petition with 126 signatories was presented to the AFS Executive Board in 1980, and the bylaws, scope and objectives were approved in 1980 by the EXCOM. Jim McCann was elected the Sections’ first president and many of the priorities from the Exotic and Ornamental Fish Committee were generally incorporated in the objectives of the fledgling section. The original set of section objectives were to:
(a) develop and maintain an association of persons interested and involved in the use of exotic
(b) coordinate and develop programs to advance the knowledge and concerns related to exotic
(c) provide a forum for identifying and bringing attention to bear on the beneficial and
potentially harmful impacts of exotic fish species;
(d) encourage communication among fishery scientists, administrators, managers, educators,
aquaculturists and others interested in exotic fish species;
(e) encourage the publication of issues, policies and scientific papers dealing with exotic fish
(f) assist federal, state and private groups in making informed decisions on exotic species
Several subject-oriented committees were formed within the EFS in 1980-81 that reflected some of the contemporary issues with exotic fishes (grass carp committee, tilapia committee, tropical fish committee, definitions committee, and protocol committee); most of these committees were active until about 1985 at which time the original tasks of several were completed, others continued (Chinese Carp/Grass Carp Committee), and still others were formed (Purposeful Introductions Committee; Genetic Conservation and Manipulation Committee). Many important positions were formulated and significant events occurred during the first decade of the section. The newsletters from this era provide a chronicle of these milestones and initial trajectory of the section and the progression of past presidents during this 10-year period reflect some of the diversity of interests represented in the membership during this formative period.
President Office Tenure Significant Developments Newsletter Reference
J.E. McCann 1980-81 Minutes, organizational meeting, 1(1):1-2
Section Bylaws approved by AFS
EXCOM and accepted at the
Section’s first business meeting
at the 110th AFS 1(1):3-5
W. Courtenay 1981-82 Symposia: Distribution, Biology, and Management of Exotic Fishes 1(2):1-2
2 Hybrid Grass Carp (not EFS initiative) 1(2):6-7
W. Shelton 1982-83 Terminology draft 3(1):attach.
Membership reached 215 - EXCOM
Terminology approve @ 113th AFS Fisheries 9(4):17-18
C. Kohler 1983-84 3Strategies Symposium @ 114th AFS 4(2):2-5(abstracts)
Protocol Committee Report 5(2):2-11
& 5(3): attachment
N. Carter 1984-85 Scope of Section Consideration 4(1):1; 5(1):6
Propose Bylaws for Introduced
Fish Section drafted 5(1):10-13
4Role of Fish Culture in Management
Update - State Laws on Introductions, see
Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 102:241-248. 5(1):9
J. Stauffer 1985-86 Bylaws – Introduced Fish Section and
Definitions; Approved by EXCOM March 1985 5(3):1; 7(1):4-7
Membership Concerns Questionnaire 5(3):6-12
J. Clugston 1986-87 6Quantitative Effects of Introduced Fishes 8(1):9-10;
N. Parker 1987-88 7Introduced Species in Natural Systems 7(4):5-10
P. Moyle 1988-89 Basic Issues discussions 9(1,2,3,4)
P. Shafland 1990-91 8Grass Carp Symposium 10(2):3-4
*Exotic Fish Committee Members: W.H. Bailey, G.H Burgess, N.E. Carter, W.R. Courtenay,
R.J. Goldstein, C.L. Hubbs, R.G. Hunter, P.B. Moyle, R.R. Roffen, E.A. Seaman, P.L. Shafland,
W.L. Shelton, R. Socolof, C.M. Wooley.
EFS-sponsored symposia and outputs
11981- Symposium on Distribution, Biology and Culture of Exotic Fish --110th AFS meeting
Published in 1984 – W.R. Courtenay and J.R. Stauffer, editors.
21981- Symposium on Hybrid Grass Carp: Biology, Management, and Potential for Aquatic Plant Control
110th AFS meeting; No Proceedings.
31984 – Symposium on Strategies for Reducing Risks from Introduced Aquatic Organisms – 114th AFS
meeting. Published 1986 – Fisheries 11 (2).
41984 - Symposium on Role of Fish Culture in Fishery Management (Co-Sponser: Fish Culture Section)
Published in 1986 – R.H. Stroud, editor.
51986 – Symposium on Genetics and Fisheries: Today and Tomorrow (Co-Sponsor: Genetics Section)—
116th AFS meeting; No Proceedings.
61988 – Symposium on Quantitative Effects of Introduced Fishes – 118th AFS meeting;No Proceedings.
71987 – Symposium on Introduced Species in Natural Systems – ASIH meeting; P.B. Moyle &
W.J. Courtenay, organizers.
81990 – Symposium on Grass Carp: Evolution of a Resource Management Tool – 120th AFS meeting;
Hopefully, this brief review of the origin, development and some early activities of the Introduced Fish Section will be of some interest and possibly stimulate some new ideas from the old.