Aquaculture is experiencing a challenging phase on a global scale. There are many instances where th...
President's Column - March 2023
Aquaculture is experiencing a challenging phase on a global scale. There are many instances where the need for change to improve sustainability is readily apparent. Improving nutrition, genetics, and animal health and welfare is crucial to enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of specific industry segments as a food production sector. Notwithstanding the supply chain interruptions brought on by the pandemic and other impacts, aquaculture production is already beginning to recover and is now making a more significant economic contribution to most production locations.
As a professional organization, WAS-APC is part of a growing international network striving to develop an innovative and sustainable aquaculture framework in the Asia-Pacific region. The AP Chapter's top priority is connecting scholars, commercial businesses, and regional governments in the Asia Pacific through networking and collaboration with reputable organizations. I took over as President of WAS-APC at the WAS2022 Singapore Conference from Jean-Yves Mevel, who led the Chapter at a trying time during the pandemic. Now that we have moved past the crisis, my first and most important task as President is to steer the Chapter forward and develop more robust academic and industry networks. WAS-APC had designed and executed several customized webinars, greatly benefitting from the expertise of the WAS-APC Board. As we advance, we intend to continue such virtual engagements and organize a few physical gatherings to strengthen the relationship with our members. We recently completed creating a matrix using the expertise of the current board members, which will serve as a ready resource for assisting with the technical workshops and conferences that WAS-APC proposes in 2023.
We look forward to the next WAS and Asian-Pacific Chapter joint conference in Darwin, Australia, at WA2023 in May. All Board members are actively involved in the Darwin meeting's organization, serving as session chairs and encouraging colleagues to submit abstracts and attend Darwin. WAS-APC will also present several awards this year, both before and during the WA2023 conference, which will assist WAS-APC members attending the conference. Two Women's Travel Awards, two pre-conference Student Travel Awards, two Student Oral Presentation Awards, and two Student Poster Awards are among those presented.
WAS-APC must also strengthen its presence in Asia's most under-served regions by enhancing regional cooperation and local technical and business capacities. We are planning several regional workshops on emerging technological issues in the Asia Pacific. For instance, a conference in Cambodia in December 2023 will be the first WAS-affiliated event in this emerging aquaculture country. Similarly, after my trip to Nepal in April 2023, there will be a virtual meeting about aquaculture in Nepal, considering the potential of a broader in-person conference in Nepal. Besides, we have started planning for a WAS-APC technical workshop in Ho Chi Minh City in October 2023, focused on improving the aquaculture industry's competitiveness in Vietnam. These events will help the Asian-Pacific Chapter play a more proactive role in developing a shared collaborative platform of key industry players in Asia-Pacific aquaculture.
In February 2023, WAS-APC teamed with Seagriculture Asia-Pacific 2023, the first international seaweed conference in a virtual format (https://seagriculture-asiapacific.com/). This two-day conference with 23 speakers drew 187 participants from 31 countries and 113 seaweed-based enterprises worldwide. WAS-APC will continue to partner with this exciting conference in the future.
WAS-APC also plans to collaborate with ICFA 2023, the 10th International Conference on Fisheries and Aquaculture (https://aquaconference.com/), organized in Bali, Indonesia, from 21 – 22 September 2023. Over the past decade, the ICFA conference has become a major fisheries and aquaculture event. This partnership will assist WAS-APC in expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
WAS-APC intends to enhance the overall student experience by increasing their participation in Chapter events. The Innovative Ideation Challenge for students, which we launched in 2022 in collaboration with the Aquaculture Innovation Centre (AIC), Singapore, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand, and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), will be held again in July 2023 with more industry involvement. WAS-APC also has the opportunity to partner with the South-East Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Student (SEAFAS) Association, a network of students and youth interested in fisheries and aquaculture in Southeast Asia, launched by Indonesia's Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, in August 2022.
Members are the key stakeholders of the Society. WAS's Strategic Plan calls for better global representation, improved communication, knowledge and technology sharing, and retaining its leadership role in the global aquaculture industry. While the disruptions due to the pandemic have dramatically impacted WAS in many ways, it necessitates disruptive strategies to reap the benefits of a new normal and transform challenges into opportunities. One of the most significant benefits of WAS membership is sharing scientific information through multiple media channels. Fostering deeper engagement with regional governments and policymakers, WAS-APC should seamlessly function as an efficient global network of academia, researchers, entrepreneurs, and governments. Expanding the membership base is a huge responsibility, as is developing more effective means of engaging members, especially by embracing new options for interaction in understanding their aspirations and retaining the existing membership intact.
In the new global order, my highest priority will be to transform the Asian-Pacific Chapter into a more effective facilitator for students and young leaders to discover promising career paths in aquaculture, for professionals to seek more entrepreneurial opportunities, and for the industry to develop closer partnerships and knowledge-sharing for sustainability. My vision is for WAS-APC to evolve into a more relevant regional platform that promotes innovative paradigms and the highest ethical and animal welfare standards in aquaculture production, thereby contributing to the sustainability of the global seafood trade and consumption.
Again, we welcome you to Darwin and another exciting conference in this historic city of Australia's northern territory, renowned for its numerous natural wonders and spectacular scenery, ancient aboriginal heritage, wildlife, and endless adventure opportunities.