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President's Column September 2021

This should have been my last column as we had planned to hold our Board Meeting this November during the combined LACC and WAS world conference in Mérida, Mexico. However, after a detailed assessment of the current pandemic situation, the Organizing Committee of World Aquaculture 2021 WA2021) has decided to reschedule the conference for 24-27 May 2022. This postponement forces us to continue the coordination of our Chapter’s activities online and reschedule our Board and Members meetings. We will keep you informed through our regular channels on the new dates for those meetings and the start of the new President’s term.

As I am writing these lines, our Chapter is receiving nominations of candidates for the election of President-elect, Treasurer and one Director, to replace current Board members Javier Martínez Cordero, who will become President, Luis Andres González Agraz and Julio Estrella Tepatl, respectively. The nomination period for candidates will close on 17 September and the election will run from 7 October to 7 November 2021. By midNovember the results will be announced. The positions of the newly elected members will be inaugurated in 2022 during one of the WAS meetings taking place in the region and they will serve the Board for two years, until the LACQUA convention in 2023. We invite you to review the candidates and massively participate in this election.

I would like to mention an article that I am sure will be of interest to a lot of our members, as it refers to the aquaculture´s role in Latin America and the Caribbean (Cavalli et al. 2021). In 2018, our region produced 1,873,000 tons of aquaculture products (barely 0.002 percent of the total world aquaculture production for that year), coming largely from five countries of the 33 in the region. Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru contribute 87 percent of the LAC aquaculture production and focus on a limited number of species (salmon, trout, smelt, marine shrimp, tilapia and other cichlids, mussel, characins, carp and other cyprinids, catfish, red seaweed and scallops being the principals). However, the region is an important aquaculture producer of characins (49 percent of world production in 2017), salmon/trout/smelt (27 percent), mussel (17 percent), and marine shrimp (14 percent). Despite those relatively low numbers, considering the natural potential of the region, aquaculture has an important socio-economic role in the countries where it is practiced. The authors provide good data on the major producing countries and finish their article with a review of the challenges facing aquaculture in the region. One of these challenges is the availability of data and statistics, something LACC-WAS members should share to help with the promotion of better practices, technologies and policies adapted to the reality of our region.

I want to add another challenge to the list as it relates directly to our membership — the availability of trained professionals. Aquaculture is not a popular topic at universities all over the region and few students enroll in the journey to specialize in this field. This limits the generation of local knowledge and development of new technologies and better practices in the region, forcing local aquaculture enterprises to invest in training their new recruits. We should be better ambassadors of our field as it will play an increasingly important role in the global food supply for the growing world population.

Please, keep in touch, as we prepare to elect and welcome new Board members and give more details on the organization of our annual events; i.e, World Aquaculture 2021 that will take place in Mérida, Mexico, from 24 to 27 May 2022, and LACQUA22 that will take place in Panama City, Panama, from 14 to 17 November 2022. For more information on our activities and events, contact Carolina Amézquita at carolina@was.org.

I wish you are all well and look forward to the opportunity to meet again.

— Laurence Massaut, President