The Agricultural Research Service and The Cooperative States Research, Education, and Extension Service held a Joint National Aquaculture Program Planning Workshop on November 20th & 21st, 2002 at the Adams Mark Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri. The objectives of this joint workshop were to: validate and up-date USDA National Aquaculture program plans, learn about customers, stakeholders, and partners needs, communicate USDA capabilities and accomplishments, and help us maintain program relevance. In July 2002, 250 letters of invitation were sent to potential participants representing a broad cross-section of the aquaculture commodities, including farmers, associations, advocacy groups, members of the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, aquaculture allied industries and scientists; State, Federal and Private. The Workshop was chaired jointly by Meryl Broussard and Lew Smith. About 100 participants attended the two days of presentations and breakout session discussions. USDA scientists stayed an additional half-day for a debriefing and planning session.
The Workshop started off with several presentations to acquaint the participants with the ARS and CSREES Aquaculture programs, highlights of recent USDA research and overview of USDA needs.
Dr. Randy MacMillan, President, National Aquaculture Association delivered the keynote address: Domestic Aquaculture: Role of Research and Technology Development. Randy talked about the many challenges-a weak economy, food safety, consumer confusion, environmental stewardship, international competition, US policy focus, national resource competition, production system control and costs, fish health management, bio-security, consumer preferences (product forms) research timeliness, and research dollar dilution. He pointed-out while there are challenges, there are opportunities for research to lower the cost of production, improve products, and increase aquatic species diversity to help the US aquaculture industry survive and prosper.
Industry Associations and Organizations presented their research and extension needs in a series of well-organized and definitive statements that will be very useful to USDA in their up-date activity.
The Regional Aquaculture Centers shared with the participants how their Centers address the research needs of aquaculture producers within their regions along with information about ongoing projects.
A panel of experts addressed "Challenges for the Future of Aquaculture" which ended the first day. Jim Anderson talked about the application and impact of technology on fish farming, George Chamberlain talked about how the U S aquaculture industry can compete in a global economy, Howard Johnson, discussed consumer perspective of farmed fish, and Richard Smith, Jr. outlined the legal and regulatory issues faced by aquaculture.
On the second day of the workshop, breakout sessions addressed each of nine research and extension components of the USDA aquaculture plans. The discussion was captured on flipcharts and by designated recorders. The USDA thanks the facilitators and recorders for their assistance in managing the lively discussion, recording the transactions, and assisting in summarizations for report-out at the end of the day.
Review of the Workshop output indicated that USDA Aquaculture programs are generally on target. Like the reports made by leadership of Aquaculture Associations; specific, detailed information was obtained and will be useful in improving the USDA Aquaculture plans. Some over-arching themes or contexts emerged from the presentations and discussions. Some of these will be difficult to incorporate at the research project level, but may be addressed at the program level. The following lists the contexts most frequently noted:
More application of economics is needed in evaluating aquaculture research holistically involving all aspects of the production system with marketing and consumer input. An approach that might be applied is path analysis. This context includes integration of biological and social sciences to consider environmental stewardship, animal well-being and other contemporary societal issues in food production.
More value-added information is needed by the aquaculture community to solve problems on aquaculture production and possibly more importantly marketing the attributes of farmed-raised fish (human health and nutrition).
A number of concerns were voiced that are economic in the context of international competitiveness and globalizations of markets. Bio-security and security of intellectual property is linked to competitiveness. Research that lowers the cost of production will directly support competitiveness. However, the bounds of lowered input costs need to be those that are acceptable to consumers both domestic and foreign.