Sadly this will be my last column as I approach the end of my term as President of the Society. Like most nice things, everything comes to an end. I must reflect upon the achievements of WAS during my term and evaluate whether we have made progress toward my proposed objectives of being the leading, high-profile and most important aquaculture society in the world, with a strong commitment to promoting the development of sustainable aquaculture across the five continents by assisting in the exchange of the latest scientific and technological information among academic, private, government and non-profit sectors. I thank all WAS members for entrusting me with the leadership of our Society, and I am grateful to our staff and governing board members for their tireless efforts on behalf of the organization.

I am happy to announce that we have just finished our yearly election process and now have new officers coming onto the Board. Rebecca Lochmann was in charge of the process and I would like to recognize her professionalism in overseeing the candidate selection and election process. I would like to welcome and congratulate our new President-elect Dr. Maria Celia Portella (Brazil), our re-elected Treasurer Dr. Wendy Sealey (USA), and two new Directors, Dr. Humberto Villareal (México) and Dr. Michael Denson (USA). I am sure that they will do a splendid job to further promote the objectives of WAS. I strongly encourage our incoming Board members to be proactive in all their activities and committees.

As you all may know, for the first time in history we are organizing our annual international conference in Africa. It will be held in June and co-hosted by the Aquaculture Association of Southern Africa and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa (DAFF). One of the priorities for the WAS Board has been to strongly encourage the formation of a WAS African chapter and consolidate its formation and membership during the World Aquaculture 2017 Conference in Cape Town. We have received commitments from South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the African Union (NEPAD) to support a secretariat for an African chapter. I would like to personally thank Bill Daniels, Kevan Main and Khalid Salie for taking the lead in the chapter’s formation.

There is a tremendous potential for aquaculture development in Africa. Africa is second only to Asia in the importance of fish in people’s diet. On average, 22 percent of total animal protein intake in Africa is from fish, but in some parts of Africa it represents up to 50 percent of total intake. Unfortunately, as is the case in many other regions of the world, African fisheries are overexploited. Aquaculture in Africa has to grow by more than 250 percent by 2020 to meet the increasing demand. Thus, the only logical and sustainable way to meet the increasing demand is aquaculture production. A special session has been organized at World Aquaculture 2017 to review the status, growth potential and risk profiles of African aquaculture venues, with a emphasis on the amounts and types of capital needed to help the sector produce revenues, jobs and fish products. Hopefully our aquaculture conference will help in meeting the objectives of food security and poverty alleviation throughout the continent.

As part of our commitment to improve our Society’s governance, the Board is considering changing the terms of some officers to improve continuity of operations across administrations. You will soon be hearing from an ad hoc committee that includes our Past-Presidents on the proposed changes. There was an urgent need to improve the quality of our scientific journal. Although we have made enormous progress, WAS is still focusing on the process of reinvigorating the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society (JWAS). We continue to encourage scientists and students to choose JWAS for publication of their highest quality research. Congratulations are extended to the authors for receiving the 2016 Best Paper Awards in JWAS.

A rigorous and comprehensive expert peer reviews process is at the heart of the quality of scientific journals. Thus, WAS would like to thank all who contributed to the peer review process during this past year, and we encourage all those invited to review to take the time to contribute their academic expertise to improving the quality of our journal through constructive feedback to submitting authors. A recent editorial by Section Editor Lou D’Abramo (JWAS 48(2):183-185) discusses the professional responsibility, recognition, and benefits of serving as a peer reviewer. Don’t forget to keep up with the latest JWAS publications by visiting onlinelibrary.wiley.com, and make sure to keep up with the latest Editor’s Choice papers for each issue, Special Virtual Issues, and other news on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JWrldAquaSoc/) and Twitter (twitter.com/JWrldAquaSoc).

As part of one of the many programs offered by WAS to its Student Travel Award to support their attendance at World Aquaculture 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. I am happy to congratulate Rufaida Dhuhai Al Breiki, Inácio Mateus Assane and Eugene Moore for their well-written and properly formatted abstracts that demonstrated high scientific merit.

As Past-president, I will soon be managing the election process for the board members that will take office in 2018 and would like everyone to get involved. Please send names of potential candidates for the position of President-elect and Directors. Your active participation and involvement in our Society’s meetings, Board of Directors and publications throughout the world can help achieve our mission. Please get involved!

Lastly I encourage you to attend the upcoming WAS chapter meetings in your region. We will be holding our Asian-Pacific Chapter meeting in Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia in July, the Latin American and Caribbean Chapter meeting in Mazatlán, Mexico in November and the US Aquaculture Society meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada next February. I am very confident that they will be very productive and successful meetings, so plan your trips ahead to attend these events. I hope to see you there.

— Juan Pablo Lazo, President