Stepping up to drive aquafeed science forward

The piece was published in the July 2022 edition of International Aquafeed Magazine

Author: Dr Brett Glencross

Early June 2022, I was fortunate to attend the 20th International Symposium on Fish Nutrition and Feeding (ISFNF) in Sorrento, Italy. It was the first time in four years that the aquafeed science fraternity had come together to share, explore, and debate the science that underpins the sector. Not only was it great to catch up with so many friends and colleagues after a four-year hiatus, but it was also a great opportunity to take a significant leap forward in the science domain.

While there were many notable scientific progresses presented at the symposium; like the development of the net-energy-concept for fish by scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and clarification on the roles of EPA and DHA in Atlantic salmon by scientists from NOFIMA in Norway, it was perhaps the step up to develop the symposium into something more than an ad hoc collective, that was a defining outcome of Sorrento. After 38 years as an informal association, the international scientific committee (ISC) of the ISFNF had unanimously voted to form the International Society of Fish Nutrition (ISFN), and with it form a professional society. This step up to the ISFN has more significance that first meets the eye.

First and foremost, the formation of the ISFN provides an ongoing professional platform for the science and the domain. The predecessor ISFNF meetings, where generally based on an informal association without any rules, statutes, funding, or indemnity. All of which most people consider standard for events and societies in the 21st century. The ISFNF also had little role in advocacy, communications or student support, all things we see as important in the ISFN going forward. It was very clearly iterated at Sorrento, that the “society will become what we make of it”. Importantly, the ISFN will be a membership-based organisation going forward. Members will elect representatives from one of three regions (EMEA, Americas, AsiaPacific) to form the International Society Committee, which will oversee various roles of the society, but most notably the facilitation and coordination of the biennial international conferences.

So, when is all this happening? Legal formation of the ISFN, with the creation of statutes, a legal entity and so on will take place sometime before the end of 2022. In terms of membership drive though, it will largely start when we push ahead with the next international conference, which will be in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2024. Leading up to that event and linked to the conference website will be the ISFN website and membership details. Things are still very much at an early stage, and this has been a step several years in the making. But notably it is a clear step up to drive aquafeed science forwards into the future.