Well that was a busy few days at Aquaculture America in Las Vegas! Our first impressions of the meeting were that it was a little smaller than last years’ in New Orleans. However, it was certainly as glitzy – being held in the Hotel Paris and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard. We all ended up with rooms on the 27th floor of the hotel with almost amazing views of the strip (which must use as much electricity in a month as the whole of Maine does in a year!).
So how was the meeting? For us it was fantastic – we had many great meetings with the aquaculture industry and support companies. Certainly the two big themes we saw emerging from the meeting were fish health (in particular sea lice control) and seaweeds (especially seaweed culture for aquaculture feeds and nutriceuticals).
We had some amazing conversations with the US poultry feed industry concerning our IMTA research and possible outlets for both seaweed products and bivalve meal in non-aquaculture related feeds stuffs.
One of the most amazing stands on display was the Alltech stand displaying a concept farm of the future, where finfish and algae culture is combined with traditional terrestrial agriculture to create a carbon neutral farm. Well worth going to http://www.alltech.com/future-of-farming and checking out the computer model there for more details.
The conference component of the meeting had some very important sessions; not least was the aquaculture education lectures where we learnt about the new Aquaculturehub social media site (www.aquaculturehub.org) and the amazing education project A.T.OL.L. where all levels of aquaculturists can access free training videos (http://www.aquaculturehub.org/events/aquaculture-training-on-line-learning-atoll). Look out for some videos from us on fish ectoparasites, egg quality and vaccines later this year.
The session on the Coexist project US is another exciting opportunity for collaboration between stakeholders in the Marine Coastal Zone to open a dialog about the use of coastal waters. It is in its early days in the USA – not so much a project as a “groundswell” right now – but we would recommend that everyone contribute to this project as it looks as if it will be very important in helping develop sustainable policies for all of us. (http://www.aquaculturehub.org/group/coexistproject/page/scientific-program)
ISAv is still an issue in aquaculture and we were treated to some excellent talks on this serious disease by Dr. Brian Glebe from DFO Canada and some of the exciting work he has been doing on vaccines. Brian is planning to retire from DFO later this year but he did tell me that he’ll still be active in the field, which is great to hear because his group has produced seminal work over the years.
The final session we attended was the recirculating aquaculture session where Atlantic Pacific Farms of Maine presented their abalone system and our very own Robert Bishop (UMaine 2014) gave a great presentation.
Socially the formal end of each day was marked with the traditional beer in the exhibit hall where we met up with old and some new friends. Now all we have to do is wait for our flight home and give my liver time to recover until we do this all again next year!