March 15, 2022

President's Column March 2022

Aquaculture is as diverse as are the regions of the world. Numerous species, countless environments, many different farm sizes and levels of technology and a variety of approaches and goals. Although the main purpose of aquaculture in Asia is often to produce affordable species for food, in other regions of the world it is to produce high-value products for local consumption or export.

It is not surprising to anyone that aquaculture is an Asian phenomenon, with China leading world production by a substantial margin. Nevertheless, worldwide, the most common constant of aquaculture is its continuous growth. The reason of why this trend is going to continue for many years is simple: aquaculture is the most efficient and sustainable way of producing animal protein in the world.

Nevertheless, regardless of size or location, the aquaculture industry everywhere shares similar needs and faces similar challenges that will only be mitigated by all of us working together. Some of our pressing needs are:

  • Fish protein and fish oil need to be reduced or eliminated from aquatic feeds to allow aquaculture to continue growing.
  • Solid genetic programs need to continue to address adaptability of species, disease resistance and desirable production traits such as growth rate and feed conversion ratio.
  • We must build a solid and resilient industry. Aquaculture does not only need to adapt and take preventive measures for climate change, but also for financial and multi-variable crises such as the one generated by covid-19.
  • Capacity building programs should aim to the professionalization of the industry in all the value chain and at all levels, including government personnel that need to be able to make decisions based on the most recent scientific information available.
  • Thorough strategic planning is essential and it must encompass various subsets of the industry, such as marketing, service providers, capacity building, investment and financing, seafood consumption promotion, digitalization, seafood trade negotiations, development of trade cooperatives and associations and very importantly, regional cooperation.
  • Aquaculture needs to be an instrument to improve the quality of life of the people engaged in it. It should be a good tool to promote the inclusion of women and the young in rural development, thus reducing rural migration.
  • My vision for the future of aquaculture is very positive. It cannot be otherwise:
  • I see innovation being a major disruptor of the status quo. While recirculating aquaculture systems and offshore cages will become more important, biotechnology such as tissue culture and cellular seafood production will become major players in the industry.
  • I see circular economy as a concept being embraced by the industry where all by-products are utilized, maximizing resource usage and decreasing environmental footprints to a minimum.
  • In the long run I envision livestock produced worldwide being fed protein produced by aquaculture of aquatic plants.
  • I look forward to aquaculture becoming the major source of protein and the culmination of the Blue Revolution.

However, for the near future, aquaculture needs to aim towards three specific goals:

  1. Aquaculture needs to concentrate efforts on decreasing its environmental footprint in the whole value chain, from production to distribution, including all the side industries associated with aquaculture such as processing, storage and feed manufacture.
  2. Aquaculture needs to become a national priority in every region and country. Recently, aquaculture has been on the minds and in the speeches of most decision-makers but that has rarely been reflected in national budgets and priorities. Public and private investment is crucial for aquaculture to keep expanding.
  3. Scientific and policy cooperation within and between regions needs to be more active and efficient.

Regional and global aquaculture organizations, such as the World Aquaculture Society will play a major role as platforms to facilitate dialogue, where producers, service providers, academia, consumers, financing agencies, decision-makers and all stakeholders could work together. Let’s keep adding our effort towards pushing the Blue Growth agenda and building a solid future for aquaculture.

It has been an honor being president of WAS but I will continue serving the organization for as long as I can in any way possible. I am really excited about the turnout and results we had in San Diego and 24-27 May, where I will have the opportunity to say good-bye to all of you and receive Jennifer Cobcroft, an outstanding professional and person, as our new president. Keep supporting WAS, keep promoting aquaculture, keep doing it with passion. See you around!
Antonio Garza de Yta, President

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About Dr. Antonio Garza de Yta

WAS President 2021 - 2022. Antonio Garza de Yta, a renowned international aquaculture professional, who holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in Aquaculture from the University of Auburn, USA. He is an aquaculture expert, FAO frequent consultant, as well as a specialist in strategic planning. Ex-director of Extension and International Training for the University of Auburn and creator of the Certification for Aquaculture Professionals in that academic institution.