It's time for the yard-sale gavel originally acquired by President Read to be formally transferred to another continent and your new President, Helene Marsh.
The two years of my term as President seem to have come and gone quickly. Looking back at the "state of the society" summary in my blog of 14 December 2011, it is clear that we, the Board and the more than 1,800 members of the Society, have achieved much since 2010. In addition, in the past six months we have:
- voted to shift to an all-electronic journal within the next year or two;
- voted to establish the Taxonomy Committee as a standing committee, recognizing the importance of maintaining a stable, ongoing source of up-to-date information on the taxonomic status of the animals we study;
- voted to hold our 2015 biennial conference in San Francisco, California;
- voted to add two highly deserving members to the ranks of our Honorary Members, Bob Brownell and Mike Fedak;
- voted to add a second Student-Member-at-Large, serving a staggered term, to share the increasing workload and provide continuity;
- developed and sent a presidential letter to authorities in Cambodia regarding the current threats to the remaining Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River;
- developed and sent a presidential letter to authorities in Japan regarding conservation concerns associated with their small cetacean fisheries;
- developed a draft presidential letter to authorities in Mexico regarding the situation with the vaquita, to be co-signed by several professional societies;
- made significant progress in planning for a workshop on lethal takes.
In my first blog, in August 2010, I identified a theme for my presidency, to direct more attention to the cumulative impacts of human interactions on marine mammals. I also identified two main goals:
Tangible indications of the Society's progress in these areas are provided at least in part by our presidential letters and associated responses, and the facts that the 2011 biennial conference, with a theme related to cumulative impacts, was the largest to date in terms of attendance, and achieved the highest level of student travel support of any SMM conference to date. The quality of the papers presented on topics related to the many threats faced by the animals we study, and the increasing level of student involvement in research, gave me reason to feel encouraged about the role marine mammal scientists can play in effecting positive change. Going forward, I hope the Society will continue to nurture these efforts, and facilitate capacity building around the world.
- to increase public awareness of the diverse resources and expertise available through the Society, and
- to make involvement more accessible to students and scientists around the world.
Responsibility for maintaining the effectiveness of the Society's workings rests with the superb efforts of your Board of Governors. I have had the opportunity to see first-hand just how much work your Board does behind the scenes on behalf of the membership, and to appreciate how much the Board members care about fairly representing and respecting the diverse interests, cultures, and backgrounds of the Society's members while working to advance marine mammal science and conservation. It has been a privilege to serve with such an exceptional group of professionals, and experience the positive, constructive, supportive atmosphere in which the business of the Board of Governors is conducted. Many of these officers and committee chairs will be continuing in their roles. Given this continuity, the qualifications of the newly elected Board members, and what I know of the excellent leadership skills of the incoming president and President-Elect Nick Gales, I have every expectation for much good work to be accomplished in the next few years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have served with me on the Board, as well as webmaster Michel Fougeres, and to acknowledge the efforts of those who will be rotating off, including Member-at-Large Emer Rogan, Student Member-at-Large Inez Campbell, and Membership Chair Doug Nowacek.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you over the past two years. As much as I will miss my frequent interactions with the Board, I must admit to looking forward to having more time available to return to the field!
21 June 2012