The International Symposium on Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (SOFAS 2023) focuses on Innovation and Sustainability in Aquaculture

The second edition of the International Symposium on Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (SOFAS 2023), co-organized by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Central Fisheries Research Institute (SUMAE) of the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (TAGEM) was held at Trabzon in Türkiye from 24 to 26 October.


This year, the Symposium attracted the interest of more than 240 representatives of the aquatic foods community from 27 countries worldwide, providing them with a unique networking opportunity and fostering meaningful discussions to drive innovation and collaboration in areas including restorative aquaculture, allocated zones for aquaculture, feed technology, turbot fisheries, turbot farming and restocking, and sturgeon aquaculture. It also provided a framework in which to highlight the work of the aquaculture demonstration centres.


The Symposium was kicked off by the Governor of Trabzon, Aziz Yildirim; the Deputy Director General of TAGEM, Dr. İbrahim Halil Sözmen; the Department Chief of Haysud (Department of Livestock and Aquaculture Research), Dr. Suleyman Aslan; the Head of SUMAE, Dr. Ercan Küçük; Associate Professor İlhan Aydın; GFCM Aquaculture Officer, Mr Houssam Hamza; and the President of Public Research Foundation, Prof. Dr. Ulvi Saran. In addition, representatives from the fisheries and aquaculture academic community were present.


"SOFAS 2023 highlights our strong commitment to the development of responsible aquaculture, conveying a strong message of collaboration and innovation. These three days were full of new ideas and stimulus and I believe that the results of our Symposium will provide the best basis for the future growth of our sector in many parts of the world'' said Dr. Ercan Küçük, Head of SUMAE.


"Hands-on learning and expert exchange: the essence of SOFAS"

During the Symposium, participants were actively involved in a diverse range of presentations and training sessions, while they also had the valuable opportunity to translate their knowledge into practical experience through field exercises, like sediment and water sampling, tagging and release of turbot into the Black Sea and seaweed lines setup. The programme included also an excursion to a trout farm.


"SOFAS distinguishes itself by combining presentations, posters, and both theoretical and practical field training. This aligns with the GFCM's objective to create a platform for cooperation among various stakeholders, including producers, researchers, and decision-makers.", highlighted Houssam Hamza from the GFCM.


For Ukrainian participants, a special demonstration was organized to address feed technologies and increase capacity, focusing on the critical use of feed during periods of crisis. The feed unit of the aquaculture demonstration centre at SUMAE, provided through recent support from the GFCM played a pivotal role in delivering this training.


"The SOFAS Symposium sheds light to the importance of the aquaculture sector for food security. In Lebanon more attention should be given to the farmers in order to support the implementation dedicated at aquaculture and provide facilitation of the investment, in particular with regard to fish farming", said Mr. Massad, producer from Lebanon.


At the conclusion of the Symposium, participants expressed their appreciation for their newfound skills, knowledge and networks, which will provide them with the opportunity to play a pivotal role in advancing modern and environmentally sustainable aquaculture practices within their respective countries. This aligns with the principles outlined in the GFCM 2030 Strategy, which aims to promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

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