World Aquaculture Society - Cape Town, South Africa. Day 3.

Although the program continues tomorrow, the focus is on farming and less on feed. I will be at a lunch for our IFFO South Africa members kindly organised by Mike Copeland, our current IFFO Board President based in Cape Town and will be catching up on my day job before and after. That makes today my last day at WAS and a chance to reflect on my first experience of these events.

It is certainly very different to other conferences I have attended. Less corporate and much more grass roots. Many of the delegates are students, fish farmers or researchers – wearing a suit and tie definitely put me into a very small minority.

Estimates about how many were attending were around 1000 and a contact from FAO was telling me that projected attendances for upcoming events, particularly in SE Asia, are likely to be several thousand, making them a different order of magnitude altogether when compared to other industry conferences. There were so many presentations occurring in parallel that it was quite challenging to navigate the program – many were very specialised or reporting small scale trials. Presentations themselves were also variable in quality – the organisers just asked for 24 hours to check for viruses with no obvious editorial control over content or format.  However, if you wanted to learn about the latest thinking on any farmed species, whether ornamental or for food, there was something for everyone.

I am certainly glad I attended to represent our industry against the swell of voices talking about replacement and substitution but the majority of the program is definitely more about farming than feed and local detail rather than global or even national trends.