World Aquaculture - June 2023

WWW.WAS.ORG • WORLD AQUACULTURE • JUNE 2023 21 minority serving institutions in connection with Aquaculture America conferences. Two student groups, one from New Orleans, Louisiana, and another from Moss Point, Mississippi, attended the Aquaculture America 2023 conference. The objective of the event was to expose their young minds to the various facets of aquaculture and to the related job opportunities that aquaculture has to offer. The students, identified by sponsorship bags (Fig. 3), came to the conference with interest in diverse study areas, including science, mathematics, and culinary arts. Twenty-seven students attended, despite being out of school for Mardi Gras week. This event exposed the students to the field of aquaculture and to the diverse career opportunities available: from research and academia to non-profit organizations, aquaculture production and supply chain industries. A number of donors sponsored this initiative, including NXT Horizon LLC, Louisiana and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, USAS, WAS and the Ecological Aquaculture Foundation. Activities included a scavenger hunt with trade show vendors, a networking lunch with personal testimonials by respected USAS members from diverse backgrounds, attendance of the “Aquaculture Through the Years: How I Got Here” session (Fig. 4) and a post-event student evaluation. The evaluation revealed a great appreciation for the trade show and some students walked away with a newfound interest in an education and a career in aquaculture. USAS Code of Conduct The USAS BOD, with the assistance of several USAS Past Presidents, developed a Code of Conduct (COC) for members and attendees at USAS-sponsored conferences, meetings and events that states expectations of meeting attendees and participants in other USAS activities. The COCe aims to ensure USAS events are safe and inclusive for everyone, that attendees will be respectful to others and their intellectual property and not engage in any discriminatory or harassing behavior of any type while attending USAS-sponsored events or related activities. The COC will be made available online and to anyone registering for Aquaculture America meetings beginning in 2024. This initiative aligns USAS with related societies such as the National Shellfisheries Association and the American Fisheries Society that have similar codes for their own events. wide range of work being done to promote D&I in US aquaculture, including research in anthropology, sociology and economics addressing issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, age, education and food justice (Figs. 1 and 2). Sharing barriers and success stories from the industry and educational sectors spurred a heartfelt discussion with the broader audience and substantial suggestions and input regarding commonalities and goals to direct future USAS D&I efforts. The two sessions conducted to date spurred essential questions regarding the goals for US aquaculture in terms of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What should US Aquaculture look like in the end? (Inclusion into what?) How can each diverse groups’ differences be identified, respected and even celebrated? Where can differences be connected or enhanced? Can these cultural differences be used to expand markets for aquaculture products or create increased demand? Can future increased demand and industry needs be addressed by expanding the industry with capital investment, regulation and a trained workforce? How can marketing be improved by including people of diverse backgrounds? How can access to education, capital and ownership be more equitable? The in-depth discussion held at the conclusion of the 2023 special session identified strong support, interest and need for continued conversations. Another special session will be held at Aquaculture America 2024 in San Antonio, Texas, and the D&I Committee encourages all attendees, previous participants and new alike, to join us. Youth Immersion in Aquaculture The D&I Committee believes that the main opportunity to improve diversity in the US aquaculture sector is through the growth of new businesses, developed by the next generation of professionals, who could represent increased contributions from currently under-represented groups. Accordingly, students and early career professionals are a primary target of the D&I Committee efforts. These efforts include conveying information about aquaculture opportunities and also showcasing success stories highlighting minority and other underrepresented groups running aquaculture businesses, or thriving in academic, government or other careers linked to aquaculture. To support this effort, the D&I Committee initiated an immersion opportunity for high school-aged students from FIGURE 3. FIGURE 4. (CONTINUED ON PAGE 22)