History was made in Cape Town, South Africa, in June 2017, where the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) launched its Africa Chapter in conjunction with the World Aquaculture 2017 conference. Over 300 delegates attended the launch meeting, witnessing the coming of age of African aquaculture and marking of a significant milestone for the global aquaculture community. Africa now joins the United States, Korea, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and Caribbean as a fully-affiliated chapter of WAS.

This year was the first year Africa hosted the WAS conference, making World Aquaculture 2017 the perfect platform to bring together members from across the continent to support the formation of an African chapter. Forming the Africa chapter will provide the much-needed forum to address Africa’s diverse and growing aquaculture sector.

The road to chapter formation was years in the making. AquaFish partners were asked to weigh in on the challenges and steps needed for chapter formation. Be sure to check out their remarks in the article titled "Growing the Global Aquaculture Network One WAS Chapter at a Time" in the Fall 2015 issue of AquaNews (pgs. 1-3).  

To form the chapter, 50 active African WAS members needed to submit a petition to the WAS Affiliations Committee requesting to be recognized as a chapter. To justify the chapter formation, the members were also required to cite the number of people interested. After review, the WAS Board of Directors approved further work towards the African Chapter formation.

Prior to the launch meeting at World Aquaculture 2017 in June 2017, WAS had 89 members from Africa. On the day of the launch, the WAS Board of Directors recognized and approved 1,297 members from 33 African countries to join the chapter. The Board also approved a one-year WAS membership for each of those delegates.

The African chapter formation is a significant achievement for aquaculture development in Africa. But, of course, there is more work ahead. The chapter is creating a steering committee and developing bylaws and a financial plan. One of the major hurdles facing chapter members is payment of registration fees and membership retention. But the members are up for the challenge and recognize the importance of chapter sustainability, as the chapter will increase exposure of aquaculture activities across the continent and provide opportunities for future collaborations.

AquaFish has anticipated the formation of the WAS Africa Chapter and would like to extend congratulations to all AquaFish partners who helped in the process. Be sure to check out the Fall 2017 issue of AquaNews for the full story on the chapter formation and launch.