• Espanol
  • Portuguese
  • English
President's Column September 2023

The aquaculture production forecast for the Latin American region is again, this year, telling a well known story as witnessed in recent years: impacts from different external sources, learning to adapt to them, and many tests of farmers’ and their communities’ resilience.

In particular, the commercial tilapia industry in the continent is facing new challenges with impacts from diseases. Countries like Colombia and Mexico have suffered major impacts and mortalities. In the latter country, combined effects of extreme drought in the southern Pacific States in the first semester of the year have meant huge impacts for commercial cage culture. Many farmers have shut down operations and the end of the year balance doesn’t look good currently.

In any case, this reminds us of the inherent increasing risks in aquaculture, and the obligation of a multi-actor planning of operations (governments, industry, academy) accordingly. Sustainability of aquaculture is really being tested and only joint actions and commitments from the different economic agents involved in the chain values will bring real solutions. This comes at a time when the world is discussing the transformation of agrifood systems to comply simultaneously with environment, health and food objectives, while taking care of rural communities and people in poverty and hunger. At the core of this transformation is the need to enhance food security, nutrition, and resilience to crises through increased aquaculture productivity and income for farmers’ households. This is becoming a huge challenge for small- and medium-scale aquaculturists, and for those raising fish for their own consumption. We must seriously discuss how to efficiently implement nature-positive, nutrition-sensitive and climate-smart aquaculture systems of all sizes.

At the beginning of June, the High-Level conference on World Food Security took place at the FAO in Rome. Aquaculture was one topic in the Conference, although not as prominent as we might desire, considering its relevance for food security in the world. Food systems will be prominent again on the International Agenda, with investment and productivity becoming critical factors. There was consensus at the end of the Conference on the urgent need to help developing countries and those in transition to expand agriculture and food production, and to increase investment, agribusiness and rural development. This very easily translates and coincides with objectives for world aquaculture.

Against this framework, our forthcoming LACQUA 2024 Congress, to take place in Medellín, Colombia, will be an excellent opportunity to discuss these new challenges together and unite as a region to find solutions. Our WAS Conferences are an excellent blend of academic work and industry sessions and perspectives. We will organize the event, calling for governments and industry interaction through special topic sessions, to come out with advances in these important issues. Financing remains critical, and constrains operations in small and medium-sized aquaculture enterprises. However, few advances have been seen in this topic. Again, we will set the table in our LACQUA 24 Congress to bring together the main stakeholder voices for discussions and commitment to action.

We hope to see all of you in Medellín, Colombia, September 24-27 for LACQUA 2024!!!!

— Francisco Javier Martinez Cordero, President