By: Antonio Garza de Yta, Ph.D.*
Vicepresident. CIDEEA / Senior Fisheries & Aquaculture Advisor, AWJ Innovation.
Contrary to what one might think, or should think, the professionalization of the sector is undervalued. Technical knowledge is not considered a priority and it is thought that aquaculture is not an activity directly interconnected with scientific development and that it is necessary to understand the fine details of the sector in order to be able to identify problems and propose solutions.
Lately, contrary to what might be thought, or should be the case, the professionalization of the sector is undervalued. Technical knowledge is not considered a priority and it is thought that aquaculture is not an activity directly interconnected with scientific development and that it is necessary to understand the fine details of the sector in order to identify problems and propose solutions.
I understood how overwhelming inexperienced people can feel at an aquaculture event when I recently attended a vertical farming trade show. It was all new to me and it all sounded fascinating. You would think that a venture into this activity would be a resounding success. This is obviously far from the truth.
The difference between serious companies and those dedicated to charlatanism and selling little mirrors is something that only an expert eye can tell. In the case of aquaculture companies, only an expert can tell the difference between those who are telling the truth and those who are lying in order to make a sale.
Experience and years in the industry also allow you to distinguish the professionals from the unprofessional and those who try to fool new investors with ideas that sound exciting but are unfounded. Recently, I saw one of the most beautiful reports I have ever seen in my career. It was full of graphs, figures, and images, but unfortunately, it contained fundamental errors.
All Excel projects are wonderful, and any project can look like a gold mine if we artificially change survival, growth rate, feed conversion, and/or biomass to harvest.
“Aquaculture is part of the primary sector, and although it can be very good business, if done properly, it is a primary activity, and should not be promoted, evaluated or compared with other types of activities that are not comparable.”
Only an industry professional can identify the details that can make or break a project. I have also recently sat on several boards where decisions are made on the basis of appearances, by a group of financial and/or political experts who have no experience in aquaculture, and who will most likely not be involved in it again once their commission is over.
In general, the right decisions are not taken because the search is for immediate results, without understanding that, being a relatively new activity, it is still necessary to invest a lot in technological development, genetics, nutrition, disease control, capacity building, among others.
It is also necessary to invest in aquaculture’s backbone before imagining pharaonic projects. On the other side of the spectrum, sometimes, due to romanticism and a lack of knowledge of the sector and of a good economic model, very small-scale actions are promoted that unfortunately will not go very far and will end up being only good intentions.
“I believe that it is easier for an aquaculture expert, who has received financial training and has a political position, to take the reins of decisions than someone who is just passing through.”
The history of bad decisions and a lack of vision in investments, companies and governments due to lack of experience in the sector speaks for itself. We must continue to push for the sector to become more professional and for professionals to be taken into account when making decisions.
From the entrepreneur or investor, to the corporate or government council, the professional is indispensable to significantly increasing the probabilities of success. The effort and dedication of individuals should be respected and valued, and those who have acquired the necessary experience should be recognized.
Let us continue to promote the professionalization of the sector and its importance for the future of global food. #AQUACULTURE_NOW
WAS President 2021 – 2022. Antonio Garza de Yta, President, Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF), a renowned international aquaculture professional, who holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in Aquaculture from the University of Auburn, USA.
He is an aquaculture expert, FAO frequent consultant, as well as a specialist in strategic planning.
Ex-director of Extension and International Training for the University of Auburn and creator of the Certification for Aquaculture Professionals in that academic institution.