The event was opened by representatives of the Dutch national and provincial governments, Wageningen and the European Commission.
John Bell, Director of Bioeconomy at DG Research and Innovation gave a rousing welcome to participants, noting the importance of aquaculture to rural economies and the wide range of research tools that the EU can offer for its continued development.
The theme of the event “Aquaculture, Nature and Society” was addressed by three invited speakers that paved the way for the parallel technical sessions of oral presentations and posters.
On the first day, Chris Ninnes (CEO of Aquaculture Stewardship Council) shared with delegates the ASC strategy to demonstrate sustainability criteria.
Society and especially consumer preferences were presented by Huw Thomas of the UK retailer Morrisons, famous for their in-store fishmongers. This was the first time that a retailer had addressed an EAS conference and his presentation was very well received.
So too was that of Wageningen CEO Louise Fresco. Without any supporting presentation or notes, she gave a fascinating and passionate insight into aquaculture developments and how they compare to those in agriculture. Her ‘new approaches to production’ inspired delegates to consider the contribution of aquaculture to maintain and enhance our natural capital and the need to balance the ‘precision farming’ concept with the provision of eco-services and being a key element of conservation in local areas.
In the 30 technical sessions that made up the AE2015 programme, 357 oral and 205 posters gave an update of the latest research in almost all aquaculture domains.
The AE2015 programme co-chairs Catarina Martins (Marine Harvest) and Aad Smaal (Wageningen IMARES) orchestrated the session chairs that often had difficult choices in the selection of abstracts for their sessions.
On the second day of AE2015, the EAS Executive Director Alistair Lane admitted that he was a little surprised by the level of participation.
“After a remarkably successful AE2014 event in San Sebastian, Spain that attracted close to 1,450 participants, our expectations for Rotterdam were somewhat less and in the region of 750. I’ve seen many people here that were in San Sebastian and many others that have been present in all recent AE events. That is very encouraging for EAS as it shows that we are seen as being the forum that brings together scientists and other stakeholders from all research disciplines to get a ‘helicopter’ view of the latest developments in the European sector.”
The AE20105 trade event was also well attended, with 66 exhibitors showing their latest products and services. Discussion forums and panels organised by the EAS/EATiP on “Fish welfare and losses during the production cycle” and by IUCN on “Aquaculture and Marine Protected Areas” were also part of the programme.
Many other meetings, workshops, panels and other events were organised in and around AE2015, confirming its status as THE European aquaculture event.
Aquaculture Europe 2015 received support from Gold Sponsor Biomar, Silver Sponsor DSM, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Province of Zeeland. Sessions were sponsored by Aquasoja and Sparos.