Posted tagged ‘seafood trade deficit’

My Takeaways From WAS Vegas

March 8, 2012

The World Aquaculture Society’s Aquaculture America 2012 event in Las Vegas last week was enlightening and strongly validates everything I’m trying to do with Aquaculture Means Business. I’ll be processing what I’ve learned in my next several posts, but here are my top-of-mind takeaways:

  1. From a scientific and technical perspective, aquaculture has no dearth of subject-matter experts. The average person in every event I attended has forgotten more than I will ever know, at least in terms of their own areas of specialization. Where the industry falls down is in its ability to aggregate and translate the knowledge locked in the heads of these experts and their organizations into actionable business intelligence.
  2. The $10 billion U.S. seafood trade deficit is not going to be eliminated or even reduced overnight, and progress will only begin when the technical and scientific knowledge that already exists is harnessed and integrated with genuine business intelligence. I’m not talking about sophisticated modeling and analytical methodologies – though these will be essential to long-term success; at this point, I’m talking about some basic business-planning practices: understanding your markets and your competition; identifying and solving customer problems, rather than cultivating a product and then looking for a market to sell it to; using technology, site selection, and creative partnerships to improve productivity and reduce costs.
  3. Despite its often-discussed challenges, North America represents enormous opportunities for aquaculture: major seafood markets; abundant feed resources; relatively cheap energy; strong financial and intellectual capital. As rising global energy and labor costs abroad level the playing field and burgeoning middle classes in Asia and Latin America increase demand for diverse, high-quality seafood, supplies will tighten further and prices will rise, making well-designed aquaculture projects a more compelling investment.
  4. Environmental concerns about aquaculture – many of them legitimate – are not insurmountable. Obstacles placed in the path of aquaculture development in North America – where greater health and safety regulations and transparency exist than in the developing world, where most of the planet’s farmed seafood originates – work against more sustainable approaches. The industry must do a better job of articulating its benefits and building broad consumer awareness of where our seafood comes from and why all farmed product is not created equal.

Over the next several posts I will drill down into these observations and share the insights I derived during the WAS event – mostly from conversations between sessions – and hope to hear your thoughts.


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