WINAAS 2023: Highlighting women in aquaculture

    How to spread the message of aquaculture online, sustainable seafood and the role of young professionals in Canadian aquaculture will be the main topics this year at the Women in North American Aquaculture Summit.


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    Once again, the Women in North American Aquaculture Summit (WINAAS) – an online event, organized by Aquaculture North America – will take place on the first Thursday of September 2023, “to understand the road to equal opportunity in the industry.” At this year’s edition, taking place this Thursday, September 7, 2023, attendees will be treated to three live panel discussions in which the ultimate goal is for women in the North American aquaculture industry to inspire, lead and encourage new generations of women to advance their careers.

    What’s to come in the aquaculture industry

    Last year’s WINAAS was imbued with an optimistic and festive spirit that highlighted that, although aquaculture in North America is a traditionally male-dominated sector – especially in production – that doesn’t mean women can’t do their job. But, as Leah Stoker, Senior Advisor at AquacultureTalent and one of the panelists told us then, “where there is an imbalance there is opportunity for the entry,” and “there are many roles to fill in this industry.”

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    But, if recruitment & mentorship, empowerment, leadership, and equity were the main topics discussed at the event last year, 2023 agenda is much more focused on what, hand in hand with women, is to come in the aquaculture industry.

    It will do so through three panels that will discuss communication, sustainability, and the role of young women in the industry through the case of Canada, where young women fish farmers are fighting back at a difficult time for the industry.

    Panel 1: Cast a digital net: Spreading the message of aquaculture online

    Aquaculture not only plays a vital role in meeting the world’s growing demand for seafood, it is also a crucial component of sustainable seafood production. However, the industry continues to face image challenges and, in the digital age, effectively communicating its importance, benefits and responsible practices online is essential to raise awareness, dispel misconceptions and encourage informed consumer decisions.

    Therefore, moderated by Jean Ko Din, editor of Hatcher International and RAStech magazines, the first panel of WINAAS 2023 will be entitled ‘Cast a digital net: Spreading the aquaculture message online’. It will bring together different women aquaculture experts, digital marketing professionals, and environmental advocates “to explore innovative strategies and best practices for effectively leveraging digital platforms to promote responsible aquaculture practices and engage with diverse audiences.”

    Cora Hirashiki, founder of Fat Moon Creative, Dianna Fletcher, founder and president of Fletcher Media, Afton Vigue, communications and outreach manager for the Maine Aquaculture Association (MAA), and Jessica Miller, Nutrition Communications Manager for the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, will be the speakers in this first panel.

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    Panel 2: Sustainable seafood: A key player in human and planetary health

    That seafood is a high-protein, healthy and nutritionally rich food is undisputed and, as we have just mentioned, that is why aquaculture is a crucial component of sustainable seafood production. But achieving that sustainable supply of seafood for future generations means that seafood must be harvested or farmed using environmentally and socially responsible methods.

    “Consumer interest in sustainability is growing and there is opportunity to educate clients and patients on how consumers can ensure they are buying the best seafood for their health and our planet’s health,” say the organizers of the Women in North American Aquaculture Summit. That’s why the second panel of the day in 2023 will be dedicated to ‘Sustainable seafood: A key player in human and planetary health’.

    Moderated by Mari-Len De Guzman, aquaculture writer and editor, the three speakers participating in this second panel will be Roxanne Nanninga, Chief Sustainability Officer for XpertSea, Sophie Egan, director of strategy for Food for Climate League (FCL), and Daisy Berg, Program & Category Manager- Seafood for New Seasons Market in the Portland Metro and Southern Washington.

    Panel 3: Young professionals in Canadian aquaculture

    At a difficult time for aquaculture in Canada, especially in British Columbia, the Young Professionals of Salmon Farming in BC (formerly the BCSFA Youth Council) have stepped forward to advocate for the industry. Their goal is to be an inclusive body that leads, informs and sustains a positive dialogue about ocean salmon farming in Vancouver Island’s rural coastal communities.

    The group includes farm/hatchery technicians and managers, water quality technicians, engineers, transportation managers, veterinarians, communicators, procurement managers, biologists, fish processors, certification managers, environmental specialists and divers. And, in this diverse group of millennial leaders, all under the age of 35, representing virtually every aspect of the B.C. salmon farming value chain, women shine brightly.

    Now, the 2023 edition of WINAAS 2023 has given them the floor. With Michelle Franze, Manager of Communications, Partnerships, and Community, BC Salmon Farmers Association, and Sam Tomkinson, Regulatory Specialist, Grieg Seafood BC as moderators, Emily Warren, Licence and Development Officer, Cermaq Canada, Kirstyn Hallberg, Environmental Specialist, Grieg Seafood BC, Kaitlin Guitard, Fish Health and Food Safety, Lab Manager, Mowi Canada West, and Kathryn Smith, Aquaculture Veterinarian, Grieg Seafood BC will be the speakers in this panel entitled ‘Young professionals in Canadian aquaculture’.

    How to join WINAAS 2023

    As usual, the Women in North American Aquaculture Summit will take place virtually via Zoom Webinar. This year the date is on September 7, 2023, at 11:00 am ET. Registration for this event organized by Aquaculture North America is free for all aquaculture professionals and provides access to watch the virtual keynote, all live sessions, and on-demand recorded content and product demonstrations. Those interested in registering can do so at this link.

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