150 Fishes to Celebrate 150 Years

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150 Fishes to Celebrate 150 Years

In 2020, the American Fisheries Society will celebrate its 150th Anniversary. As part of the celebration, the Society will be calling attention to 150 fishes. We solicited nominations of fishes for the list by the Society’s membership.

The 150 Fishes list is a celebration of the biodiversity of freshwater and marine fishes of North America. These fishes will help tell the story of fish and fisheries of the continent. They may illustrate unique life histories, beauty, conservation issues, and challenges of managing and conserving these animals and their habitats.  These fishes represent our native biodiversity, but also illustrates how invasives and our own human nature have had impacts on our aquatic resources. Hence, this list will primarily focus on native species but may include non-natives when they tell a compelling fisheries story. From the stories of these fishes, the Society and the public can learn to better appreciate these amazing natural resources and be challenged to ensure that future generations will be able to experience these fishes in their native settings.

Nomination Process

Fish nominations are now closed.

Circulation Process

The 150 Fishes list will reside at the 150th Anniversary Website, information about individual fish from the list will be circulated through various social media platforms throughout the year.

This list is meant to be a fun for members and informative for the public. It is unlikely we will be able to include all nominations. We acknowledge that every fish has a story. There may be opportunities to discuss all the nominated fishes in the future.


Catchy TitleAmerican shad: a historic past but an uncertain future
Common Name of FishAmerican shad
Scientific Name of FishAlosa sapidissima
Image of FishImage of Fish
Image Caption and CreditAmerican shad Alosa sapidissima from the Roanoke River at Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina in 2007. Hightower et al. (2012; Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management: Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 184-198. https://doi.org/10.3996/082011-JFWM-047)
Description of Why This Fish Is Important/Interesting

The American shad was one of the first species to be fished commercially in North Carolina. Fishing operations using large nets employed many people, and the salt-preserved fish were shipped to northern markets and overseas. These fisheries began in the mid- to late 1800s, or about the same time as the American Fisheries Society.

Unfortunately for American shad, its trajectory since that time has been downward. Adult American shad migrate from the ocean into coastal rivers to spawn. The loss of spawning habitat due to dam construction and overfishing have resulted in dramatic declines, and the species is currently at an all-time low.

Is there hope for American shad? Fish ladders and removals of derelict dams have reopened some upstream habitat, resulting in population rebuilding in some systems. A full recovery will take time and persistence, but is worth it for a species prized by anglers and named Alosa sapidissima meaning “most delicious”.

Website or Journal Article for More InformationAtlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: http://www.asmfc.org/species/shad-river-herring
Your NameJoseph Hightower