World Aquaculture - June 2023

20 JUNE 2023 • WORLD AQUACULTURE • WWW.WAS.ORG with participants sharing their respective responses to D&I issues within their organizations and communities. While the committee is still in the early phases of its work, this article highlights the D&I activities to date. Survey of Membership Diversity When the D&I Committee was formed, demographic data on the USAS membership were not systematically collected and were therefore not available. The USAS BOD, in discussion with the D&I Committee, took steps to collect data on this topic and set a baseline to evaluate future trends. A preliminary survey was sent to the USAS listserv in 2021 and was used to define a survey format that will effectively capture a larger fraction of the membership. The survey was finalized with the World Aquaculture Society conference management office this spring and will focus on collecting basic demographic data on a voluntary basis during the online registration and membership renewal process. The short questionnaire includes questions on gender, ethnicity, race and age. Special Sessions on Diversity and Inclusion The D&I committee offered special sessions at annual aquaculture conferences in 2022 and 2023. The 2023 USAS D&I special session included presentation on anthropology, workforce development, social justice, food security and historical perspectives that directly influence today’s aquaculture and seafood industry demographics. Contributors from different universities, community efforts and businesses discussed the Efforts to improve equity and social justice are bringing needed changes to the workplace and more broadly in professional environments across sectors. Because these issues also affect US aquaculture, and in response to concerns from the United States Aquaculture Society (USAS) student membership, the USAS Board of Directors (BOD) established an ad hoc Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee in 2020. The mission of the D&I Committee is to foster diversity and inclusion in the USAS and the US aquaculture sector as a whole. To achieve this goal, the committee seeks to help the USAS BOD develop, implement and evaluate a diversity plan. The committee’s initial work focused on identifying data needed to monitor progress towards the Society’s goals regarding D&I as well as organizing sessions at Aquaculture America meetings to facilitate discussion and identification of needs in a safe and inclusive environment. So far, the BOD and D&I Committee have initiated an effort to evaluate the diversity of USAS membership through a demographic survey. This survey will be repeated to track changes through time and help focus efforts to bolster the USAS membership and better serve their future needs. A better understanding of the makeup of USAS through time can help identify drivers of and barriers to member recruitment and retention, in particular those affecting members from under-represented groups. The committee also organized special sessions at the Aquaculture America conferences in San Antonio in 2022 and New Orleans in 2023. These sessions included presentations from leading universities and organizations Diversity and Inclusion in U.S. Aquaculture: What the U.S. Aquaculture Society and Others are Doing to Promote Diversity within the Aquaculture Sector Angela Caporelli, D. Allen Pattillo, Eric Saillant, Abigail Bockus, Adriane Michaelis, Gulnihal Ozbay, George Brooks, Rebecca Lochmann, Lonnie Gonsalves, Carla Schubiger and Steven Hughes FIGURE 1. FIGURE 2.