Natural Resources, School of
Examining the Relevancy and Utility of the American Fisheries Society Certification Program to Prepare Future Fisheries Professionals
Date of this Version
Fisheries, Vol. 41 • No.8 • August 2016
Fisheries science is a diverse field that requires individuals to be knowledgeable in many disciplines in addition to fisheries (e.g., economics, sociology, political science, chemistry; Kelso and Murphy 1988). This challenges students attempting to enter a career in fisheries, as well as academic institutions and eventual employers, to develop both depth and breadth of knowledge needed to succeed in the profession (Oglesby and Krueger 1989). The preparedness and competency of young professionals entering the workforce has long been a problem (Stauffer and McMullin 2009). Several constraints and ongoing challenges facing the profession have continued to magnify these issues over time (McMullin et al., this issue). These issues stem from the diversity of skills required or expected across employer groups (e.g., government agencies, private sectors, nongovernment organizations) and degree levels sought (B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.), complexity of fisheries-related problems, and balancing a broad academic focus with specific training. Additionally, employers perceive that students lack welldeveloped critical thinking, communication, and statistical skills that are highly desired in any area of fisheries. The American Fisheries Society’s (AFS) mission of preparing and promoting the development of fisheries professionals has been addressed in many ways, including development of the AFS Professional Certification Program in 1963. This program provides minimum standards for which fisheries professionals are recognized across government, academic, and nongovernment entities. The certification program fosters greater recognition that fisheries professionals are well equipped and prepared to act on the public’s behalf concerning fisheries-related issues. Two tiers of certification exist, with first-tier certification (Associate Fisheries Professional) contingent upon the completion of higher education courses in six broad subject areas. In this article, we focus on the first tier of certification, the basic education determined by AFS to be critical in preparing young professionals for a career in fisheries.
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