Dr. Humberto Villarreal has been a member of the World Aquaculture Society since 1989 and was elected to that Board of Directors in 2017, collaborating in the Promotions and Membership Committee and the ad-hoc committee in charge of developing the Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. 

He has been involved as presenter, session chair, and steering committees of multiple WAS and LACC (Latin American Chapter) conferences. In 2020 was elected as Section Editor for the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society. 

Humberto has a Ph.D. from Queensland University in Australia and a BSc from the Monterrey Technological Institute in Mexico. He has been a Senior Researcher and Professor in the Masters and Ph.D. programs at the Northwest Biological Research Center (CIBNOR) in Mexico. 

He has also led numerous research projects related to bioenergetics, nutrition, genetics, genomics, and bioeconomics projects for shrimp and freshwater crayfish aquaculture, all related to sustainable aquaculture.

He has over 100 scientific publications, directed over 45 thesis, holds a patent, and has five award-winning certified technology developments. 

He is a member of Mexico´s National Researchers System (Level III) and received the Congress Medal for Science and Technology Merit from BCS in 2014. Head of the Aquaculture Program (10 years) and BioHelis, the Innovation and Technology Park (10 years), lead a multidisciplinary group that developed the aquaculture growth strategic plan for Mexico in 2008 and has supported the development of commercial aquaculture in several countries.

Aquaculture Magazine spoke with Humberto regarding his candidacy for the presidency of World Aquaculture Scientific. Here we present the interview:

1.- What’s your passion?

My family is my passion. They are an essential part of me. Professionally, having the opportunity to coordinate multidisciplinary groups to develop creative solutions for specific problems. There are great opportunities in the aquaculture sector that need reliable information to create new culture technologies for emerging and commercial species. The construction of strategies to generate that information is the fundamental objective of my career.

2.- What makes you proud of your professional career?

There are many personal satisfactions. For example, I organized in 1989 the first workshop between Mexican shrimp producers and scientists to define national priorities for the industry in terms of collaborative Academy-Industry research. This collaboration led to the use of closed cycle hatchery production, genetic programs implementation, efficient use of balanced rations, and the establishment of sanitary controls in hatcheries and farms.

I also coordinated an international Shrimp Nutrition Project for the CYTED (Science and Technology for Development) Program that involved most Latin-American scientists and experts in the field. This project also included disseminating and divulging knowledge through courses, workshops, conferences, and the edition and free distribution of several specialized books. The impact of this project in human resource training and the enhancement of international multidisciplinary collaboration has been, and is, very relevant.

I was a member of the nucleus group that created the MSc and Ph.D. programs in Use, Conservation, and Management of Natural Resources and the Ph.D. in Aquaculture and Fisheries Bioeconomics at CIBNOR. The influence that graduates from our postgraduate programs have in the aquaculture industry is significant, contributing by leading aquaculture programs at Universities, businesses, NGOs, and government entities. 

I also conceptualized and supervised the development of BioHelis. The Innovation and Technology Park at CIBNOR contributed to commercial aquaculture development in Baja California Sur and Northwest Mexico.

Main projects into Bui-Helis were: incubating, developing, providing soft-landing and consolidation opportunities for knowledge-based enterprises in hyper intensive shrimp culture, triploid seed oyster production, juvenile production and grow out of marine fish, intensive no water exchange production for freshwater crayfish, genetic selection for microalgae, oyster, shrimp, and crayfish lines and validation of additives and immune stimulants.

3.- What´s your motivation to want to become President of WAS? 

World aquaculture has significantly developed with better and more sustainable systems. However, to contribute to the required protein production levels for 2050, the challenges are complex and can only be attained through the diversification of cultured species and production sites. As the most relevant aquaculture association, WAS must participate effectively in this goal by helping its members contribute fundamentally to the generation of knowledge, human resource, and student training.

Timely disseminating relevant and reliable information to solve production problems through conferences, workshops, and social networks is essential for the industry. Similarly, effective collaboration with other specialized organizations will be vital in providing information that contributes to the definition of public policies to develop sustainable, socially responsible, and economically viable aquaculture projects worldwide. 

4.- Do you know what motivates WAS members?

WAS members have expressed that having access to local, regional and international experts to obtain and exchange scientific and technological information on time is essential for aquaculture innovation. They also want consolidated Regional Chapters, strategies to maximize the benefits from annual meetings, and the development of new communication channels to share experiences and collaboration synergies built. Most importantly, for aquaculture to grow at the expected rate, new generations of specialists must be formed worldwide to support this development.

5-. What values must WAS and its members transmit to society?

The World Aquaculture Society has relevant participation in the development of world aquaculture. I believe the emphasis on collaboration and technology dissemination to support sustainable, socially responsible, and economically viable aquaculture is the core value the society and its members must represent.   

6.- Do you have a specific or unique ability that benefits you as a candidate for President-Elect at WAS? 

Over the years, I have gained experience collaborating and coordinating multidisciplinary, international groups. With my trajectory in academia and technology development, human resource formation, and participation in developing public policy strategies for aquaculture development, I believe I have a good perspective of needs and opportunities in aquaculture. 

Similarly, my participation in the productive sector as operating manager and consultant for farms in Australia, Ecuador, Mexico, and other countries gives me context on improving business-academy links. I think it is important to bring this vision to WAS, coordinating the enormous capacities of its members to contribute to the development of world aquaculture.   

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