24 April 2017
New WAS President Guillaume Drillet: "...it is about engaging people and supporting the transfer of information.."
Congratulations on your new post as President of WAS. Overall, how do you hope to improve or expand upon the work of this organization?
Thanks, I have to admit that I am very happy to be able to serve WAS and the AP Chapter in particular; Asia has been my home for 7 years now, my Mom herself is born in Phnom Penh; it is a family circle back to ground zero!
I have always been very active in taking responsibilities in societies and association in general. In the recent years, I have taken two big challenges, the WAS-APC and the GloBal TestNet and this keeps me very enthusiastic and busy. I love structuring, organizing and helping people to get something extra. I believe this is what WAS is about. We have an amazing conference every year (APA) and a great and active board. It took me a few months to get into the working style of WAS-APC and I am now ready to follow up after Prof Endhay becomes a Past-President; The new board members have recently been elected and I am looking forward to work with them. I have a few ideas on the back of my head which have to be developed together with the board but especially with the members who are the living mass of our organization.
Recognizing the importance of the APC region, in that it produces 80% of the world’s aquaculture, what do you see as the differences in the way aquaculture is done there as compared to most western countries?
There are differences it is obvious. One of them is technology inclusion in farming processes which is often driven by investment capabilities (small holders can’t cope with large investments) but also the regulations which have been driving some of the technological developments in Europe for example; I am thinking about Recirculated Aquaculture Systems for instance, I believe that this spin-off primarily from the enforcement of environmental discharge standards. The regulation have to be balanced and adjusted regularly because we do not want the industry to struggle with regulations that can’t be fulfilled; the regulations are to support sustainability. Here in Asia, in our industry, I think that environmental impacts are not looked after as seriously as they should but I am trained as an environmental scientist so I might be biased. However, I am pretty confident that this is getting better over time and supported by a stronger focus from authorities as well as an increased presence of certifications programs. Finally, I also think that some of the sustainable habits are also driven by trade regulations on tractability for instance. As environmental consultants, we see more interests from producers who realize that environmental studies are not a waste of money but rather a good investment for the future.
How do you hope to improve the APC area during your Presidency?
Organization and communication are the two powerful tools that an organization like ours can use to generate big impacts. Our work in the board is pro-bono so it is basically about how much of our own time we can put into creating great opportunities to share more about productions, sustainability, technologies… to succeed we need our members to be active as well. So it is about engaging people and supporting the transfer of information. I hope to increase our coordination with WAS on general communication to all our members. I also would like to get opportunities to give value to our members like organizing for example a few dedicated workshops in India where a lot of our members originate from. Finally, we have an enormous amount of work to do with increasing our membership in the region in other countries like Taiwan, Philippines, China, and Myanmar etc. I believe the board has to prepare a strategy for getting better at engaging potential members in countries where our presence is not really visible. I believe this is going to keep me busy in the 2017-2018.
With your expertise in water - and understanding water quality is important to aquaculture - what are lessons we must learn as we move forward about water?
Planning to succeed. Not planning on managing water is like planning to fail. Here I refer to intake of water, treatment, sludge management and discharge of water. Our company has been dealing with this for 50 years so we have optimal solutions for about every challenges; you can call our experts and they will design a solution just for you. But the big challenge that aquaculture is facing is still communications, the planning a “one farm” level is straightforward but it get challenging when it comes to Aquaculture Zone Management. We also support these developments because we do this for many other industries but it requires that all the farmers in a particular zone have the wish to go into a MoU. If not, the authorities have to finance the negotiations… it is a challenge but we have to do it if we want to increase the resilience of our industry.
Discharge of Ballast water has been an issue for the world - can you explain the changes that are being made globally in this respect, which should improve things?
The first reference of potential bio-invasions through ballast water are reported as far as the early 20’s century. Ballast water is used to stabilize ship during voyage when they are not full but the discharge of ballast water can transfer organisms including pathogens. We are talking about billions of cubic meter of water transported every year across continents Shipping support the transport of our feed, our food, our equipment’s... The International Maritime Organization (UN-IMO) has done an amazing work and the convention on ballast water is about to enter into force, globally, this year in September. This is a major step in decreasing bio-invasions and while it is extremely costly, I believe every stakeholder can take credit for this achievement. Yet, together with a few colleagues we have suggested that the risk from pathogen transfer, even after ballast water treatment should be evaluated as it might impact aquaculture productions.(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v539/n7627/full/539031d.html) But while IMO is moving on with taking action against the spread of species, we have ourselves, in the aquaculture sector, a lot of work to do to improve water management and broodstock management to ensure that aquaculture diseases do not spread globally.
Plastic in the Ocean is a major pollution - what are your views on how we can improve this?
You are right, plastic is a major problem and globally, it is about changing our habits. Some countries have simply regulated plastic use and forced recycling obligations. It comes at a cost but how do we want to live? Myself, I want to leave a clean, peaceful, and prosperous world to my kids.