As this issue of World Aquaculture magazine enters the final stages of preparation, we have received the sad news about the passing of Meryl Broussard after a long battle with cancer. Meryl was President of WAS from 1996-1997 and was instrumental in establishing aquaculture as a presence within the USDA from the time he first joined the organization in 1985. WAS Past President Bob Stickney, who was Meryl’s Ph.D. advisor at Texas A&M University, and Nick Parker and Ken Davis, former colleagues from Memphis State University, with input from others, are preparing a career summary that will be published in the September issue of the magazine.

First, I want to thank the membership for allowing me to serve as President of the World Aquaculture Society. This is the pinnacle of my professional service and I hope that I can help manage the operations of our Society. My immediate predecessor, Dr. Maria Célia Portella, was able to accomplish an amazing amount during her seven-month term as President. I am indeed fortunate to be able to have her assistance and guidance during my term. I also want to acknowledge the service of Dr. Bill Daniels, outgoing Past-president. Bill has the distinction of the longest length of continuous service to WAS as a Director and Officer. With the 50th Anniversary celebration and Board meetings in New Orleans, we missed the opportunity to properly recognize Bill for his accomplishments and service. Dr. Darryl Jory and Dr. Antonio Garza de Yta ended their terms as Directors in New Orleans. It was my pleasure to serve with these individuals and I look forward to working with those coming on board.

I hope you were able to join us at Aquaculture 2019 in New Orleans. The Triennial conference was the most successful to date, with 3500 participants from 85 countries. A special thanks to Steering Committee Members Dr. Sandy Shumway, Dr. Mike Denson, Dr. Michael Masser, and Paul Zajicek for their hard work. Program Committee Chairs Dr. Jay Parsons and Dr. Sandy Shumway organized 104 sessions with 1350 speakers and 225 poster presentations. The Trade Show was at full capacity with 205 booths. A huge part of the success of these conferences continues to be due to WAS Executive Director John Cooksey and his management team, along with support from WAS Home Office staff Carol Mendoza and Judy Andrasko.

The WAS 50th Anniversary celebration spearheaded by Dr. Craig Browdy was also a success. The official reception was attended by 22 Past-presidents, 12 Fellows, and 9 Honorary Life Members. Dr. Robin Overstreet and Dr. Tom Zeigler attended and were recognized as founding and continuous members for 50 years. Past-presidents Dr. Paul Sandifer (1979), Dr. Maria Célia Portella (2018), and Dr. Craig Browdy (2002) toasted the attendees, thanking all for their contributions to the Society and its mission. There were 22 exhibitors with 20 years or more of participation in WAS tradeshows. I hope you noticed the Anniversary plaques in their booths. The Celebration continues throughout 2019 at various conferences. WAS members with 25 or more years of membership should remember to pick up your anniversary pins and certificates at the registration booth at upcoming WAS meetings.

During her term as President, Dr. Maria Célia Portella tasked an ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee to draft a 5-year strategic plan for the World Aquaculture Society for 2020-2025. The Committee consists of Dr. Mike Denson (Chair), Dr. Wendy Sealey, Dr. Kathleen Hartman, Dr. Humberto Villarreal, Dr. Antonio Garza de Yta, Dr. Rohana Subasinghe, Dr. Miguel Costa Leal, Dr. Portella (ex officio) and myself (ex officio). The group has been meeting since October 2018 through several webinars and a full day session at AQUA 2019. I have provided a draft to the WAS Board of Directors, the Past-Presidents Committee and the WAS Fellows Committee to request comments and advice. The Committee feels their shared knowledge and experiences with WAS and other professional organizations can provide additional perspective to our deliberations. The Committee intends to incorporate suggested changes into the final document and present back to the Board at the Mid-Year Business meeting at LACAQUA 19 for final approval.

There is nothing more vital to an organization than the membership’s trust that elections are held in an honest and fair manner. An election of WAS Officers, Directors, and Bylaws changes was held during December 19, 2018 to February 03, 2019. However, due to electronic voting irregularities, the Board of Directors decided to void the result and ask the membership to re-vote on the same ballot. These irregularities resulted in the Election Committee and the Board being unable to differentiate between legitimate votes and block voting attempts. Several procedures were initiated to insure that voter ID is secure and to prevent proxy voting. These changes include member IDs no longer being used as passwords and computer software code that can detect proxy voting attempts. We regret the imposition to both the candidates and the membership due to the re-vote but sincerely felt that the integrity of the election process demanded the delay.

The Society is eagerly awaiting the next two Chapter Conferences. The Asian Pacific Chapter is hard at work on the Asian-Pacific Aquaculture (APA’19) Conference and Exposition to be held June 19-21, 2019 in Chennai, India. LACQUA19 will be the 2019 Annual meeting of the Latin American & Caribbean Chapter held November 19-22, 2019 in San José, Costa Rica. San José will be the site for the WAS Board of Directors Mid-year meeting. I look forward to seeing the WAS Board, the LACC Board, and members in beautiful Costa Rica!
— Jimmy L. Avery, President