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President's Column March 2023

In 2022, the total population of Latin America and the Caribbean reached 660.3 million, with a total annual population growth rate of 6.7 percent. Projections for 2050 indicate that 737 million people will inhabit the region. Currently, 32.3 percent of the population lives in poverty, with 12.9 percent in conditions of extreme poverty. According to the FAO, 8.6 percent of the population in the region face hunger, and 8 million more people than before the Covid-19 pandemic cannot afford a healthy diet. In general, progress towards global nutrition targets is very limited.

Aquaculture is taking an ever more critical role in food and nutrition security. Public and private projects of small, medium or large scale are all important in achieving this goal. However, aquaculture policy support by country in the region reflects different perspectives and priorities. In most countries, stronger relevance and priority is given to aquaculture carried out by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) than resource-limited aquaculture, where production is for home consumption. A few other countries in the region are clear promoters of private, large-scale investment mainly. Our Latin American and Caribbean Chapter accompanies and seeks to help all our regional aquaculture.

Along this line of thought, we are happily finalizing the organization of our LACQUA 2023 conference in Panama City, Panama, from 18-21 April. Following the country’s main interests in aquaculture development, plenary speakers will talk about mariculture, shrimp culture and commodities analysis. The conference theme of “Sustainable Aquaculture for Two Oceans” correctly reflects the main interest of LACC in helping all efforts for sustainable aquaculture development in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans of our region. Panama, with coasts on both oceans, gives us the opportunity to analyze the current status of this development and ways to help its growth. The call for papers is still open and we have already received more than 150 abstracts for presentation during the event. We will have big sessions devoted to tilapia aquaculture, shrimp farming, diseases and mariculture, among others.

During the LACQUA 2023 opening ceremony, we will honor Dr. Alejandro Flores Nava, who at that time will have just retired as FAO’s main Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer for the Latin America and Caribbean region. For almost 15 years in this position, Dr. Flores Nava worked very hard with our aquaculture sector, always being a very respected voice. Following FAO’s mandates, he carried out very important work with SMEs and resource-limited aquaculture. Under his guidance, many regional specialized workshops were carried out on important topics such as financing, social security, human nutrition and public policy, among others. Dr. Flores Nava was a plenary speaker at many of our LACC regional conferences and helped establish many aquaculture FAO projects with countries all over the continent. We will surely miss him and wish him success in his future personal and professional projects. This was a job well done, Alejandro!

In Panama, the LACC Board will welcome two new members and incorporate the student representative. I thank Andres Piedrahita (Colombia) and Laura Silva (Mexico) for their valuable work, and welcome Dra. Adriana Muñoz (Colombia), who is returning to the LACC Board for a new 2-yr period. I also want to take the opportunity to thank Dra. Maria Célia Portella (Brazil, Pastpresident of WAS and LACC) for her role in guiding our election processes. Due to the absence of our LACC Past-president, the Board nominated and requested Dra. Portella to fulfill this important role. She has been organizing the elections in 2022 and 2023.

We hope to see all of you in Panama City for LACQUA 2023! Hasta pronto.

— Francisco Javier Martinez Cordero, President