Thursday, May 21, 2015

21/05/2015: Aquaculture America 2015
by Tom Blacker, International Aquafeed

First published in International Aquafeed, March-April 2015

Down by the busy Mississippi River, New Orleans once again hosted Aquaculture America which focused on ‘Aquaculture – Centre of the Plate.’ The event ran from February 19-22. 

Hosted by the local chapter of the WAS – including the US Aquaculture Society, the National Aquaculture Association and the Aquaculture Suppliers Association – the event took over the top three floors of the Marriott Hotel on Canal Street.

Official media partners, International Aquafeed, exhibited and attended the entire exhibition and conference and also attended the Industry Tour Day that travelled out to the Mississippi after the final day. (We carry a report elsewhere in this magazine about the research and development happening in and around Mississippian aquaculture.)

Beginning at the Opening Ceremony and Plenary Session, Kathleen H Hartman, outgoing President of the US Aquaculture Society, welcomed all to New Orleans and this year’s Aquaculture America conference and exhibition.
Other speakers from the seafood restaurant and distributor parts of the value chain were great in promoting aquaculture from their perspective. The common thread of the conference this year was ‘Centre of the Plate’. This meant that each speaker described what is the priority on the plate, how it reaches it and how consuming aquatic products is better for our society, our planet and us as humankind.     
Both the market and the public’s perception of aquaculture is changing and becoming more appreciative of our products. We were all told that we have to believe in aquaculture in order to change the tide and agenda of, in this case, the American consumer and the anti-aquaculture movement.

On this note, the meeting of Federal Regulators came to the conference’s second day. No meaningful outcomes were achieved to the disappointment of attendees. The US aquaculture industry was said by many throughout the conference to be languishing and in need of developing larger economies of scale. 

Examples, such as the way that regulations for aquaculture differ greatly between states, the changing climate, the difficulty of raising capital and investment to start up, reinvest and grow and also how the cottage industry still sits alongside the developed industry were mentioned with room for improvement.
At one conference session on US tilapia and soybean feed, a great ‘Aquaculture Handbook – Fish Farming and Nutrition in Pakistan’ produced by the American Soybean Association (ASA), the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) and with funds from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), was distributed. 

The handbook will help all tilapia farmers. Professor Kevin Fitzsimmons, extension specialist and research scientist in aquaculture, freshwater and marine algae and aquatic biology from the University of Arizona chaired the session with Dr R.S.N. Janjua, country representative for the USDA, ASA and WISHH in Pakistan. They were joined by an audience of many tilapia farmers from countries such as Uganda, Ghana and the US. 

In fact there is a good recent eight-minute video documentary about Feeding Pakistan online HERE.

As well as joining the many exhibitors (of which the statistics are above), the large numbers of visitors to the conference made this year a very memorable one indeed.
Mario Stael and John Cooksey, joint lead organisers of this year’s events, said that the exhibition was in fact so popular for exhibitors that the academic poster boards - which included Dr John E Ewart’s stand for the aquaculture career/resumés of students seeking aquaculture careers and the stand for the next WAS conference and exhibition in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea - had to be moved out of the exhibition hall area due to the demand for exhibitor space from both US companies and those from outside the US wanting to take more space than initially expected! 

For next year, Aquaculture America will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from February 22-26, 2016. We will be looking forward to seeing you all there again.

Read the magazine HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
Perendale Publishers Ltd

For additional daily news from aquaculture around the world: aquaculture-news

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