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President's Column June 2020

In the past three months, our world has changed dramatically. Most countries have been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a wide range of impacts. Most of us followed confinement measures that were requested by our governments or self-imposed to reduce the spread of the contagion. They also had direct consequences on our professional activities. Universities, research centers, government agencies and private companies focused on ensuring the safety of their employees, meaning in most cases the adoption of homeworking. We have been inventive in pursuing our work remotely, staying in touch with our students, colleagues or customers, using social media and videoconferences. For those of us working with live organisms, we had to be resourceful to maintain them during these challenging times.

We have learned to appreciate the people involved in apparently simple activities, without which we cannot live as a society; i.e, healthcare workers, food shops and delivery, police and military, waste collectors … and food producers, including workers at aquaculture farms. In most Latin American countries, from small family farmers to large corporations, we have kept operating and shown our dedication to the production of good-quality food. Fish and other aquatic foods are a key part of our global food systems, with important social, cultural and economic significance. However, disruptions in various supply chains, falling production and decreased consumer demand are putting pressure on prices and job safety. As members of the World Aquaculture Society we are ideally placed to evaluate those effects, but more importantly to help with solutions to recuperate former production levels. We should use our scientific data and knowledge to understand the impacts of the pandemic on fish and aquatic food systems and support local producers to keep operating safely and offer healthy and affordable protein.

Another consequence of the lockdown measures that directly affects our Chapter is the postponing of our annual conference. Considering that the health of speakers, exhibitors and the larger community is of utmost importance, the Steering Committee of the Latin American and Caribbean Aquaculture 2020 (LACQUA20) and the Ecuadorian Aquaculture Conference (CEA2020) has decided to reschedule this international event for March 22-25, 2021, keeping Guayaquil as our host city. We will monitor closely the evolution of the pandemic and recommendations made by international agencies regarding the safety for travelling and attending conferences. Please, consult our webpage if you need more information or are interested in sending your abstract, registering, or booking a booth (https://www.was.org/Meeting/code/LACQUA20). We will also keep you informed on the progress regarding this important conference through our Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

I wish you are all well and my thoughts are with all of you at this time. — Laurence Massaut, President