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Whether We Like It or Not, Political Will Is Crucial for Aquaculture Development

Whether We Like It or Not, Political Will Is Crucial for Aquaculture Development

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By Antonio Garza de Yta, Ph.D.

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, with an abundance of natural resources, suitable conditions for the development of species in temperate, semi-tropical and tropical waters; it also has a vast expanse of arid land that can be used for aquaculture, professionals, research institutions and great academic exchange and cooperation programs. In short, Australia is an ideal place for the development of our activity, but without political will it will go nowhere.

I have always wondered why Australia has not become, or is not on the way to becoming, an aquaculture giant. The Aqua Farm 2024 event in Surfers Paradise removed all doubt for me; aquaculture is simply not a priority and there is not the political will to develop it.

I know this may be considered a strong statement, but an event that brings together experts from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and all of Asia, supported by top local professionals such as Roy Palmer, and receives absolutely no attention from the authorities, who have been repeatedly invited to attend, is a very clear signal.

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, with more than 7.7 million square kilometers, an abundance of natural resources and the right conditions to develop species in temperate, semi-tropical and tropical waters. As if that were not enough, Australia’s population density is very low and it has a vast amount of arid land that is not fully exploited or that can be used very well for aquaculture.

In addition, it has a significant number of professionals and research institutions to serve the industry, as well as excellent academic exchange and collaboration programs with the world’s major aquaculture powers. In short, Australia is an ideal place for our activity to develop, but without political will it will go nowhere.

On the other hand, places with less initial resources but much more political will, such as Chile, Ecuador, Egypt and Vietnam, have managed to make aquaculture a very important contribution to the development of their gross domestic product. It is interesting to highlight Saudi Arabia, which is a clear example of how aquaculture can be promoted as a generator of jobs and wealth even under the most adverse circumstances.

Whether We
Like It or Not,
Political Will
Is Crucial for
Aquaculture
Development

Of course, there can be the political will to make aquaculture not only a generator of wealth, but also an indispensable tool for achieving food security. Look at China, which is undoubtedly the world leader in aquaculture production and where a third of the protein consumed daily by more than 1.4 billion people comes from aquaculture.

As I mentioned in my participation in Aqua Farm, love is shown on a budget. Today, aquaculture is still on the lips of decision-makers in a large number of countries, but this is poorly reflected in the budget allocations of most of them. I will continue to insist: “Aquaculture must become a priority at national, regional and global levels because, if done well, it can be the most sustainable way to produce animal protein worldwide”.

Let us all continue to work on reducing our environmental footprint and no doubt many other countries will follow the example of the GCC countries in making aquaculture a national priority.

Finally, I would like to end this column by warmly congratulating the newly elected President of the AsiaPacific Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society, Dr. Imad Patrick Saoud, who has been an aquaculture enthusiast for many years and is one of the foremost scientists in translating theory into practice.

Dr. Saoud is the first representative from the Middle East region to be elected President of the Asia-Pacific Chapter, perhaps reflecting the importance of this activity in this part of the world and confirming what was mentioned in the column: Political will is crucial for the development of aquaculture. All our support to Imad in these next 3 years in which he will undoubtedly be a reference for aquaculture in the region and worldwide. Congratulations!

Ph.D. Antonio Garza de Yta

*Antonio Garza de Yta is Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Advisor for AWJ Innovation, Vice President of the International Center for Strategic Studies in Aquaculture (CIDEEA), President of Aquaculture Without Frontiers (AwF), Past President of the World Aquaculture Society (WAS), Former Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Creator of the Certification for Aquaculture Professionals (CAP) Program with Auburn University.

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