Gary Whelan Elected Second Vice President of the American Fisheries Society


Contact: Beth Beard
Email: [email protected]

Gary Whelan Elected Second Vice President of American Fisheries Society

(Bethesda, MD) – Gary Whelan, Program Manager with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, was elected Second Vice President of the American Fisheries Society (AFS). This vote will make Whelan the 141st president of AFS in 2025-2026.

Founded in 1870, AFS is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.

“Gary’s long history of leadership in AFS gives him in-depth knowledge of the Society, its long-term goals, and its strengths and weaknesses,” said AFS Executive Director Doug Austen. “He also brings an important perspective coming from a state fish and wildlife agency working every day on real-world fisheries and aquatic resources management issues.”

Whelan earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming and master’s degree at the University of Missouri. After working as a research biologist at Michigan State University, he began the first of many positions at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Fisheries Division in 1987, with assignments ranging from controlling fish pathogens to determining the effects of hydropower projects on watersheds to managing complex fish production and research systems to examining trends in landscape ecology, often many of these on the same day. Whelan’s work also includes a number of nationwide collaborative habitat initiatives, including the Instream Flow Council, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership.  He has also worked broadly on national fisheries policy issues in a number of Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ committees.

“I am a strong believer that passion for our aquatic resource is our strongest value. Keeping the passion in our day-to-day work is absolutely critical for professionals to be successful in their jobs, particularly when times are difficult,” said Whelan. “Without passion, there is simply no way to effectively handle adversity. To keep that passion burning, I envision greater availability of resources to improve our membership’s ability to do their collective and individual work through greatly enhanced virtual training and conferencing opportunities along with new ways to build professional and personal relationships that sustain us in difficult times.”

A life member of AFS, Whelan has served in many roles at AFS since the 1980s, including with the Michigan Chapter; several Annual Meeting, Society, and awards committees; the Fisheries Information and Technology, Fisheries Administration, Fish Habitat, and Fisheries History sections; and multiple terms on the AFS Governing Board and Management Committee. Whelan was inducted as a Fellow of the American Fisheries Society in 2019.

“Having the opportunity to participate in this range of AFS events and positions has allowed me to observe the Society from many angles and has provided me a remarkable vehicle to expand my knowledge of our Society,” said Whelan. “My participation in AFS over five different decades has allowed me to develop many professional and personal relationships that I deeply cherish and have provided me extensive experience in every level of the Society’s organization and management—experiences that will help me serve as an AFS Officer.”

“We look forward to formally welcoming Gary to the AFS officer corps at our Annual Meeting in Spokane, Washington, in August,” said AFS Executive Director Doug Austen. “We also thank Kevin Dockendorf for standing for election and appreciate his ongoing service to the Society and the fisheries profession.”

# # #