Guide to Fisheries Education for Grades K-12


Alan Crook and Michaela Zint and the Youth Education Committee Education Section, American Fisheries Society

Sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Future Fisherman Foundation, and the following American Fisheries Society groups: the Minnesota Chapter and affiliated Minnesota organizations; the Dakota, Missouri, New York, and Virginia Tech Chapters; the Education and Fisheries Management Sections; and the Southern and Western Divisions.

August 1998

Suggested citation format

Crook, A., and M. Zint, principals. 1998. Guide to fisheries education resources for grades K–12. American Fisheries Society,

Education Section Youth Education Committee, Bethesda, Maryland.

Cover photographs were provided by M. Zint, University of Michigan; the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; and, D. Kenyon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

© Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 1998

All rights reserved. Photocopying for internal or personal use, or for the internal or personal use of specific clients, is permitted by AFS provided that the appropriate fee is paid directly to Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, Massachusetts 01923, USA; phone 978-750-8400. Request authorization to make multiple copies for classroom use from CCC. These permissions do not extend to electronic distribution or long-term storage of articles or to copying for resale, promotion, advertising, general distribution, or creation of new collective works. For such uses, permission or license must be obtained from AFS.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 98-86930 ISBN 1-888569-10-7

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper.

American Fisheries Society 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 110 Bethesda, Maryland 20814-2199, USA

YOUTH EDUCATION COMMITTEE George Babey, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Anne Bierzychudek-Williamson, Michigan State University Kelly Carter, Michigan State University Alan Crook, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Shari Dann, Michigan State University Linda Erickson-Eastwood, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Rosanne Fortner, Ohio State University Sharon Rushton, Future Fisherman Foundation Joe Starinchak, Future Fisherman Foundation Michaela Zint, University of Michigan

SPONSORS Sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Future Fisherman Foundation, and the following American Fisheries Society groups: the Minnesota Chapter and affiliated Minnesota organizations; the Dakota, Missouri, New York, and Virginia Tech Chapters; the Education and Fisheries Management Sections; and the Southern and Western Divisions.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The creation of this guide was inspired by, and closely follows, the format provided by Andrews’ (1995) directory of water curricula, Educating Young People about Water: A Guide to Goals and Resources with an Emphasis on Nonformal and School Enrichment Settings, which is available through the ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education (Columbus, Ohio). The Youth Education Committee is also grateful for the comments and suggestions provided by the following reviewers: Don Bonneau (Iowa Department of Natural Resources), Karen Bick and Mike Bira (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency–Region 6), Susan Blanton (Batelle), Valerie Chase (National Aquarium in Baltimore), Leanne Hennessee (Montana State University), Chuck Hopkins (John Dearness Environmental Society), Dale Johns (Hanford High School), Lonnie Nelson (Aquatic Resources Education Association), Frank Panek (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Bora Simmons (Northern Illinois University), Lundie Spence (North Carolina Sea Grant), Gail Wintczak (Kennewick School District), and Al Zale (American Fisheries Society Education Section).

Fisheries professionals and others with an interest in fish, fishing, and fisheries management issues view youth education as an important step in developing a more informed, responsible citizenry. It is hoped that such a citizenry can help solve the problems caused by past actions and contribute to building sustainable fisheries. Interest in creating an informed, responsible citizenry has resulted in the development of a variety of educational materials and programs for youth that can be used in school (formal education) and nonschool (nonformal education) settings. Nowhere, however, have these materials been inventoried and reviewed to determine to what extent existing instructional resources meet fisheries education goals and needs. The purpose of this guide is to (1) provide a framework for fisheries education (page 2), (2) describe existing fisheries education materials (pages 7–21), and (3) summarize the fisheries education content covered by these instructional resources. For more information on why and how this guide was developed, please refer to pages 2–4.


This guide is designed for individuals who are interested in developing, implementing, and evaluating youth education programs concerned with fish, fishing, or fisheries management issues. Users might include coordinators of youth education programs, developers of educational materials and programs, and those who are interested in aquatic resources education in general. The guide is designed to help individuals select instructional resources that will meet aquatic resource education needs and to identify gaps in coverage among fisheries education materials for youth.


The Fisheries Education Materials Summary Chart (page 39) provides an overview of the materials reviewed. To learn more about specific materials, you can refer to the annotated Guide to Reviewed Materials on page 7. The materials in the summary chart and in the annotated guide are listed alphabetically by title.


1) Although this publication provides a great deal of information about fisheries education materials, users will need to make their own judgment about which materials are most appropriate for a particular audience and setting. For example, users may need to select materials to meet teaching objectives that are based on school, district, state, or national standards. In addition, users may want to adapt the materials to make them more suitable for their region or the age of their learners. Finally, users should focus on teaching youth “how to think” rather than “what to think” about fisheries issues. In other words, fisheries professionals and educators should encourage students to take informed actions based on scientific understanding of fisheries and not on advocacy without such background.

Additional information on how to select and use environmental education materials in general and on how to promote environmental literacy is available from:

North American Association for Environmental Education P.O. Box 400 Troy, OH 45373, USA 513/676-2514


We reviewed many instructional resources with fisheries education content to develop this guide. However, we may have missed valuable materials and would like your help in identifying such resources. If you have instructional materials that are not reviewed in this guide and that cover content listed in the Fisheries Education Framework (page 33–35), we would like to know about it. Please send a copy of the material or ordering information to:

Alan Crook RR #6 Lindsay, Ontario K9V 4R6 CANADA

Please make sure to mark your package “educational review materials, no commercial value”

2) Introduction

We would also like to hear from you if you have any corrections, updates, or format change suggestions for future editions. Please send these to:

Michaela Zint School of Natural Resources and Environment University of Michigan Dana Building, 430 East University Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115 USA

Thank you for your help.


The American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources. The AFS has been involved in selecting K–12 fisheries education activities in the past and has a strategic plan that calls for public education. As a response, the Youth Education Committee (Committee) under the Education Section of the AFS was formed in 1994 to “advise the AFS on the status and direction of youth aquatic resource education as related to the fishery resources in the United States and Canada” and “to engage in activities leading to the development of recommendations to the AFS so that it may make effective contributions to formal and nonformal aquatic resource (both freshwater and marine) education.” To meet this charge, Committee members were selected to represent formal and nonformal education interests as well as state agency, provincial ministry, university, and private industry interests.1

Because educators and fisheries professionals wanted information on fisheries education materials for youth and AFS was interested in developing and supporting such materials, the Committee decided that its first project should be to conduct a fisheries education needs assessment. The specific objectives of the needs assessment were to:

1. develop a Fisheries Education Framework for youth based on key fisheries issues and concepts identified by AFS leaders;

2. identify, collect, and select instructional materials with fisheries-related content;

3. review selected instructional materials based on the Fisheries Education Framework;

4. describe the strengths and limitations of existing fisheries education materials to help direct the improvement of existing, or the development of new, instructional resources; and

5. produce a guide describing relevant materials and summarizing results in a format convenient for those interested in fisheries education.

Development of a Fisheries Education Framework

The Committee began by defining three goals for fisheries education. These fisheries education goals were inspired by the goals of environmental education, which stress awareness, knowledge, skills, attitude, and action.

Fisheries Education Goals

Goal 1. Help youth acquire a basic awareness and understanding of the total ecosystem in which fishes live; the commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries supported by that ecosystem; the issues involved in managing these fisheries; and the effects people can and do have on the resource.

Goal 2. Help youth acquire positive attitudes and values toward fishes, fishing, fisheries, and the aquatic ecosystem in general, ensuring their protection, rehabilitation, and responsible management.

Goal 3. Help youth acquire the social and technical skills to make decisions and solve problems associated with the management of fisheries and the motivation to personally act on those problems. Provide youth with opportunities for personal action and evaluation of those actions.

These three goals were then used to select fisheries issues and concepts from the 1994 document prepared by AFS entitled Vision for North American Fisheries in the 21st Century. A questionnaire that included the fisheries issues and concepts was sent to 89 AFS leaders (73% responded). These fisheries leaders approved the issues and concepts identified by the Committee and added several concepts that they considered important. The resulting Fisheries Education Framework contains 8 key issues and 55 related concepts to include in fisheries education materials (page 33–35).

1 For more information on AFS involvement in youth education, please refer to Zint, M., and S. Dann. 1995. Educating youth about fish, fishing, and fisheries management issues. Fisheries 20(2):28-30.

3) Introduction

Identification, collection, and selection of fisheries education materials

The AFS Youth Education Committee also worked to identify and collect fisheries instructional materials for youth. The Committee identified more than 20 materials from its members’ libraries, placed requests for materials in related newsletters, and reviewed bibliographies of relevant materials. In addition, the Committee requested more than 80 instructional materials directly from their sources, of which 46 were received. To determine which of the materials would be reviewed for this guide, the Committee applied five criteria:

1. Material must cover one or more fisheries education issues or related concepts.

2. Material must be designed or adapted for youth.

3. Material must be interactive (i.e., require thought or action), not simply reference or support material.

4. Material must be at least 10 pages long, not a brochure or single activity.

5. Videos must have support material that meet these same criteria.

The final 54 materials that were selected based on the Committee’s criteria represent resources from local, state, regional, and national agencies, ministries, organizations, and groups in Canada and the United States. The Guide to

Materials were evaluated and scored based on how well each item addressed the concepts listed in the Fisheries Education Framework. Scores were then combined and weighted based on the number of concepts per issue to assign an overall percentage of coverage to each of the eight fisheries education issues. Based on the distribution of scores, which ranged from 0% to 71%, a scale was developed to summarize the extent to which the eight issues are covered by each material in this guide.

0% No = no coverage

1–12% = limited coverage relative to all issues and materials

13–24% = fair coverage relative to all issues and materials

25–36% = moderately good coverage relative to all issues and materials

37%–above = good coverage relative to all issues and materials

Because many of the reviewed instructional materials incorporated fish, fishing, or fisheries issues but did not have these topics as their focus, each material’s main emphasis was also classified.

For additional information about the needs assessment that resulted in this guide, please refer to Zint, M., and A. Crook. 1998. A needs assessment of fisheries education materials for youth. Fisheries 23(10).

4) Introduction

• The Committee fully supports Crook’s assessmentment of the fisheries education materials in the

Fisheries General recreation Biology

guide but acknowledges that the use of multiple reviewers may have yielded different results Habitat Careers Ecology in some cases.

Management regulations Environmental issues Animals

Recreational fishing Water science Plants


Finally, a variety of other characteristics of the selected materials were identified, including their appropriateness for different grade levels and subject areas.

A summary chart provides an overview of the strengths and limitations of the materials reviewed for this guide. Because the summary chart is intended to help users find the materials that can best meet their needs, it shows (1) appropriateness for different grade levels and subject areas, (2) main emphasis, (3) coverage of eight key fisheries education issues, (4) relevant fisheries education goals, and (5) a variety viewed materials were no longer available and were therefore excluded. Based on the remaining materials, we conclude that most concepts under Pollution and Fishing receive good coverage. Most concepts under Habitat and Managing Fisheries receive reasonable coverage. Coverage of Building Sustainable Fisheries is mixed in that only some of the concepts are addressed reasonably well. In contrast, Biodiversity concepts receive limited coverage. The remaining issues, Stewardship and Careers, are covered somewhat better but not as well as the rest. of other program characteristics (pages 39–51).

The following areas need development: Production of the fisheries education guide

• Alternative species for commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries.

• Aquaculture: advantages and limits

• Commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries conflicts available through the ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education (Columbus, Ohio). This guide closely follows the format used by Andrews to provide

• Fisheries and biodiversity

• Fisheries and critical habitats educators and fisheries professionals with a user-friendly description of available fisheries education materials.

• Fisheries and watersheds

• Fisheries careers


• Global trends and fisheries issues

Users of this guide should be aware of the following limitations of this needs assessment:

• The Fisheries Education Framework the Committee developed and used to review the fisheries

• Harvest: effects of gear selection, techniques and effort, and bycatch (for commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries)

• Introduced species: boon and bane education materials described in this guide includes the issues and concepts important to AFS but may not address those viewed as significant by others.

• Sharing the resource: fisheries and interspecific competition

• Stocking: advantages and limits

• The Committee is confident that the guide includes many excellent fisheries education

• Subsistence fishing and aboriginal rights materials, but additional valuable instructional resources are likely to exist.

5) Introduction

More specific information on gaps in coverage can be found in the article by Zint and Crook (1998). It should also be noted that very few of the materials address fisheries education issues and concepts in a marine context or provide multicultural perspectives. Finally, many materials purport to cover a broad range of grades (e.g., 4–12), but the Committee feels that the bulk of the reviewed materials are generally appropriate for grades 4–8. Dedicated fisheries education resources are generally lacking for grades 9– 12 and are extremely limited for K–3.


On the basis of this needs assessment and the development of this guide, the Committee makes seven recommendations.

1. This guide should be widely disseminated to help

educators and fisheries professionals select instructional resources that can best meet the needs of their specific audience. To make users aware of the guide, its availability should be announced on the World Wide Web and in newsletters of professional fisheries and education groups. 2. This guide should be updated in 1–2 years and at 3 to 4-year intervals thereafter. Users of the guide are encouraged to identify fisheries education materials and programs for future editions and send this information to the guide’s authors. Information on additional resources should be collected through the World Wide Web and more formal means including interviews, focus groups, or mail questionnaires targeted at K–12 teachers, aquatic resource educators (including marine educators), fisheries professionals, and others. 3. Most reviewed materials are current but not “leading edge.” This has not gone unnoticed by curriculum developers, many of whom are currently revising their resources. Those individuals should refer to the Fisheries Education Framework and the areas in need of development (page 4) for important issues and concepts to include and should look to technical experts to provide insight into these areas.

4. New materials should be developed to fill the

content gaps identified as a result of this needs assessment and to provide marine contexts, include multicultural perspectives, and target grade levels K–3 and 9–12, for which few resources are available at this time. Development of such new materials should involve fisheries professionals and formal and nonformal educators teaching appropriate grade levels and a variety of subject areas. Content gaps other than those identified by this needs assessment are likely to exist. Those already identified by reviewers of this guide may include the history of fisheries management, the value of fish as food, and the impact of cumulative or synergistic effects on fisheries. Needs in these areas are among those that cannot be confirmed because related concepts were not included in the Fisheries Education Framework and, hence, were not reviewed in the materials. There is a need to support existing fisheries education materials and efforts. Many organizations indicated that they are unable to obtain funding to revise and improve popular resources or to publish additional copies. Aid is needed to update, improve, reprint, promote, and disseminate existing materials. Finally, many individuals and groups have an interest

in fisheries education for youth but have not developed beneficial partnerships. Potential partners include but are not limited to fisheries professionals, formal and nonformal educators and curriculum developers, university faculty and extension personnel, state and federal natural resource agencies and education departments, industry groups, nongovernment organizations, and foundations. Affiliated professional groups lend themselves to developing and strengthening linkages between these parties and thus should play important roles in improving fisheries education materials for youth.