Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL conference to move online due to COVID-19

Published on
May 12, 2020

The Global Aquaculture Alliance announced on Tuesday, 12 May, its annual Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership (GOAL) conference will be completely virtual this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

GOAL 2020 will be held from 6 to 8 October as previously scheduled, with six to eight program sessions per day. Access to the first day of the conference will be offered free of charge to members of seafood associations and other strategic partners worldwide.

The live event was scheduled to take place in Tokyo, Japan, this October. GAA said it expects the event to be rescheduled for 2021.

“The silver lining of this terrible COVID-19 cloud is the unifying force of virtual meetings. This presents new opportunities to broadly share the latest information and advances to accelerate progress toward our collective goal of responsibly producing more healthful seafood,” GAA Founder and President George Chamberlain said in a press release.

According to GAA, individual and corporate members will be able to access the functionality of the conference platform and application, including live streaming, live Q&A and polling, and virtual meetings. Participants will also have access to PDFs of presentations, reports, and recordings of livestreams.

Corporate members will be able to access virtual networking and matchmaking opportunities, with the ability to “call” face-to-face meetings within the conference platform.

“Attendees will be able to access the conference platform and applications before the event begins and, through instant messaging, schedule meetings with other attendees, and those meetings will take place within the conference platform before or after plenary sessions,” Steven Hedlund, GAA’s communications and events manager, told Seafood Source. “Networking has always been essential to the success of GOAL, and we’re trying to mimic that as much as possible in a virtual environment. It’s really not that different than scheduling meetings before a conference or trade show.”

Despite moving a live conference completely online being a major overhaul, the GAA doesn’t expect the quality of presentations or discussions to dip.

“At GOAL 2019, we live streamed Day 1 of the conference to four shrimp-farming and -processing hubs throughout India as well as six Southeast Asian cities, and it was a big success, attracting hundreds of aquaculture professionals who were unable to join us in Chennai,” Hedlund said. “The success of that virtual event, coupled with the travel and meeting uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, inspired us to evolve GOAL beyond the traditional format. The in-person event draws 400 to 500 seafood professionals from 30-plus countries. But a virtual event held simultaneously has the potential to draw thousands. We’re excited by what the future holds.”

While GAA doesn’t plan to go all-virtual forever – GOAL 2021 is expected to be a live event – the organization is open to including more online content in the future. The all-virtual event this year will be a good test run, Hedlund said.

“We’re positioning ourselves next year for a ‘hybrid’ model with both a virtual event and live event occurring simultaneously,” he said. “The idea is to give our members and attendees options. What fits best for them in any particular year? We’re building a model that allows us to deliver quality content and constructive debate no matter how challenging it is to travel or gather.”

For example, someone who wants to attend but is unable to travel to Tokyo would still be able to access live streams, shared documents, and participate and interact with sessions and other attendees, both online and on-site.

The GOAL 2020 conference program will be published in June.

Reporting from Portland, Oregon

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