By C. Greg Lutz
We have all heard this message many times in one form or another. And many times this seems to be the prevailing reality in the business, science and practice of aquaculture. But in reality, there is much to celebrate in terms of innovation. New tools, new approaches, new perspectives, new accomplishments and, always, new faces.
New tools can take many forms. Insurance instruments for use in commercial aquaculture are evolving, and their use is increasing daily. Although some types of production lend themselves to coverage more than others, as insurance companies gain experience in the aquaculture arena, their willingness to look at other forms of aquaculture should continue to grow. New tools are also being developed in terms of standards and practices. One example is the Commercial Aquaculture Health Program Standards (CAHPS) concept, which ultimately should help producers improve the health of their stocks and their balance sheets. New technical tools and scientific approaches are also improving the odds for success, especially when producers are faced with diagnosing and controlling diseases.
New approaches are apparent everywhere as the industry continues to grow and consumers and suppliers become more familiar with aquaculture. One interesting example involves evaluation of the incorporation of offshore aquaculture with wind farms in European waters. The incorporation of a multidisciplinary and stakeholder inclusive approach should eventually lead to an improved process in terms of policy development – ultimately benefiting producers, consumers and society as a whole. The wind farm – aquaculture synergy will ultimately spark technical innovations that have probably not yet occurred to anyone, but new technical approaches such as breeding breakthroughs and in-house microalgae cultivation are continuously improving opportunities for the industry to meet growing demand for aquacultured products. CAHPS is also an example of something else that’s relatively new and very encouraging – a collaboration between USDA’s APHIS and the National Aquaculture Association.
If you are an aquaculture producer, sometimes a “new approach” can be as simple as finding a new way to look at numbers you already have available to you. A great example involves determining whether a particular vaccination practice should pay for itself. For most of us, recognizing the longer-term, big picture realities of where and how markets will expand is another new approach to looking at this business.
New perspectives are also constantly emerging with regard to aquaculture. Sometimes they emerge from within our own businesses, commodity organizations, or even supply chains. At other times, they are the result of interacting with professionals who have little or no experience with aquaculture. A great example is the summary of a recently published study on the role of our industry in terms of global food resiliency. The alternate views of how aquaculture can contribute, or complicate, food security should not be missed. And speaking of new perspectives, Aquaculture Without Frontiers recently took on a new board member who should bring new skills and expertise to that organization’s efforts.
So… many things we address in this issue are new under the sun. Some things, however, never seem to change. There are many old “tools of the trade” that should not be ignored. Some are as simple as paying attention to marketing skills throughout the value chain. Others may be a bit more complex, such as management of nitrogen within production systems.
And, old annoyances never seem to go away. What some regulators and policy makers view as “new approaches” or “beneficial standards and practices” are oftentimes destined to end up as counterproductive for producers, consumers and society as a whole. One producer’s experiences with this bureaucratic phenomenon are presented, and they are (unfortunately) something many of us industry veterans will be able to relate to. As long as our industry is viewed by policy makers as something unfamiliar (at best), and poorly understood or simply disliked by the very regulators overseeing it, in many ways “what has been done will be done again.”
Please share your questions, comments and suggestions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we welcome your input!
Dr. C. Greg Lutz has a B.A. in Biology and Spanish by the Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana, a M.S. in Fisheries and a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science by the Louisiana State University. His interests include recirculating system technology and population dynamics, quantitative genetics and multivariate analyses and the use of web based technology for result-demonstration methods.