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President's Column September 2022

FAO’s most recent State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture SOFIA 2022 shows that aquaculture´s production in the American continent (Americas in the document) reached 4.4 million t live weight for all species, representing a a 57 percent increase in the period 2010-2020. The continental statistic is divided into three categories: the major producer in the continent (Chile), North America’s production and the rest of the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. In this decade, Chile doubled its total production from 713 to 1,505 thousand t; North America reduced its total production to 620 thousand t and LACC increased 50 percent to reach 2,276 thousand t.

Although the report does not disaggregate these statistics by enterprise level, the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the LACC region is very high and has a very important socioeconomic impact. Moreover, their effect on food security and nutrition is very important, as demonstrated by several country reports. The 2030 SDGs clearly recognize how small-scale aquaculture producers are important to poverty eradication, food security, improved nutrition, economic security and access to financial services. In the region, FAO-LACC has proposed an additional production level, AREL (resource-limited aquaculturists) to include those very small aquaculturists, who basically produce for their own consumption and who always have a limitation in one of the production inputs that constraints their development.

The International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture was in 2020. Small in scale, big in value calls for attention to the relevance of this sector, which usually faces power imbalances in value chains and markets and lack skills to improve their activities. Their relevance in agrifood systems, through short value chains, was evidenced by their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the LACC region, with high poverty and food insecurity, we must work to empower SMEs to continue contributing to human well-being and the resilience of food systems.

Against this background, the LACC will increase its efforts in facilitating discussion and analysis of SME relevance and paths for their sustainable development. Specifically, we will plan for special sessions in our forthcoming LACQUA 2023 in Panama, with regional experts and government representatives and organizations. This conference, in the Mesoamerican region of the American Continent, is the best location to call for action and strong support.

We are also developing our LACC Strategic Plan for the next five years. Our mission, objectives and short-term goals must coincide with what our Society expects from aquaculture in the region, not only for providing food but for human well-being, resilient and sustainable food systems and socioeconomic development. The pandemic and subsequent fuel and financial crises have put millions of people in the region in a multidimensional poverty conditions. LACC will take a more proactive role in helping find a solution to this problem.

We hope to see all of you in Panama City for LACQUA 2023. Please start planning now.

— Francisco Javier Martinez Cordero, President