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Workshop aims to improve practices and perceptions in aquaculture

A one-day workshop on improving practices and perceptions of the aquaculture industry will be held on campus on May 20. The event, entitled The Four P’s of a Safe and Sustainable Aquaculture Industry: Practices, Presentation, Promotion and the Press, will be held on May 20, 2010 in the UW-Madison Animal Science Building, located at 1675 Observatory Drive, auditorium room 212. This workshop will give producers the knowledge and skills to market their products more effectively, grow their businesses, help shape the public’s perception of aquaculture at a local level, and work with government decision-makers.

The National Aquaculture Association (NAA), the United Soybean Board, WAA, UW-SP NADF, UW-Madison Department of Animal Science, UW-Madison Aquaculture Program, UW-Extension and Coolwater Farms, LLC are sponsoring this program.

As an industry, it’s time to present a positive message about American aquaculture. U.S. growers are increasingly challenged by inexpensive imports, environmental advocates who don’t have a full understanding of aquaculture, opponents of animal agriculture, foreign producers, and unfavorable media attention. To meet these challenges and grow their markets, aquaculture producers must be armed with the information necessary to respond effectively to government decision makers, buyers, the general public, environmental groups, and the media.

With the wide range of certification programs available from a number of different sources, and more buyers asking for those certifications, it is critical to be able to understand how current federal and state regulations help to ensure the sustainable growth of the U.S. aquaculture industry, the use of environmentally-friendly practices, and product safety. Buyers and the public need to understand that U.S. producers currently adhere to strict federal and state regulations that have the force of law and are a more definitive proof of industry standards than the confusing morass of certification programs.

This workshop will also include presentations on farm practices that demonstrate the absence of exotic diseases and invasive species, as well as regional perspectives of the environmental soundness and sustainability of aquaculture. Use of these practices is increasingly important as both large institutional and small regional buyers actively search out environmentally-friendly growers and develop purchase specifications that include a sustainability component.

Negative stories about aquaculture and seafood are constantly barraging the public. This program will also prepare you to answer the tough questions about product safety and possible contaminants, species substitution, imported seafood, risk/benefit studies, the benefits of actual seafood consumption versus fish oil capsules, feed concerns, best management practices and environmental impact. The approach will be proactive, anticipating negative stories before they emerge and equipping stakeholders with the tools necessary to reshape negative messages before they begin to proliferate.

These workshops are being held around the country and will help to ensure that the public hears positive, upbeat, and scientifically accurate information from as many different sources as possible. This is the only way that the aquaculture industry can combat the misinformation and disinformation that is currently widely spread by opponents of U.S. aquaculture.

In addition to the actual workshop, each participant will receive a resource toolbox containing handy references and important information to help spread the good news about U.S. aquaculture.
Workshop instructors include Dr. Andy Goodwin and Dr. Nathan Stone of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Linda O’Dierno, NAA Outreach Coordinator, Betsy Hart, NAA Executive Director, along with Jeff Malison NADF Co-Director and Ron Johnson Aquaculture Outreach Specialist.

There is no cost for the workshop which includes lunch (perch provided by Coolwater Farms), however preregistration is required so a parking pass for university parking can be sent to you and we know how many to plan for lunch.

To register for the workshop contact Cindy Johnson, Wisconsin Aquaculture Association, 715-373-2990 or email Cindy@WisconsinAquaculture.com. For additional conference information contact Ron Johnson, Aquaculture Outreach Specialist at 715-779-3189 or ron.johnson@uwsp.edu .

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