by Kevin Fitzsimmons
The Fifth International Symposium on Tilapia Aquaculture (ISTA 5), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 2 to 7 September 2000, was the best attended ISTA to date. Almost 600 participants from over 40 countries attended. The proceedings included over 100 papers, which were published in two volumes. The proceedings were distributed to the participants at the meeting, and the two-volume set is also available for $50 (plus shipping) from the American Tilapia Association <www.tilapia.org>.
The conference was also used as the debut for three new books on tilapia aquaculture. Fernando Kubitza released his book Tilapia in Portuguese, providing an excellent overview of tilapia aquaculture. The World Aquaculture Society (WAS) released a new book, Tilapia Aquaculture in the Americas, Volume 2. Stirling Aquaculture and Kluwer Publishers also distributed announcements of their new text, Tilapias: Biology and Exploitation.
The social events were well attended, although the spectacular views from the Sugar Loaf were spoiled by an untimely rainstorm. The tilapia dinner at the Sofitel Hotel had almost 600 in attendance. The dinner featured several tilapia recipes, all of which met with rave reviews. The farm tour to Minas Gerais State had great weather, and everyone had a chance to enjoy the scenery going from the beaches of Rio to the mountains of Minas. One of the popular additions to the ISTA format was a tilapia gastronomic circuit. Several of the surrounding restaurants featured tilapia on their menus during the conference, and attendees were able to try several new recipes. This gastronomic circuit and conference was featured in a great article in the Sunday paper of Rio, the restaurants got plenty of free publicity, tilapia has made it onto the menus of several new restaurants, and several farmers now have new customers. This feature will probably be added to all future ISTAs as an addition to the technical sessions, Farmer-to-Farmer sessions, and trade show that have made these conferences so important to the industry.
The Tilapia International Foundation also instituted an award in the name of Father Jan Heine, recognizing a person who has made major contributions to helping small tilapia farmers in developing countries. The inaugural award went to Hans Middendorp in recognition of his work in Cameroon, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.
A committee was also formed to begin plans for ISTA 6, which will be held in Manila, Philippines, in September of 2004.