GOAL 2021 shifts to hybrid monthly schedule, includes in-person Seattle finale

Published on
February 17, 2021

The Global Aquaculture Alliance has announced its annual conference will be taking on a new shape this year, as it adds a series of virtual events that will culminate with an in-person event in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. There is no date or venue set yet for Seattle’s in-person event.

Along with the hybrid structure, the conference is also expanding its scope in 2021 to include wild fisheries. GOAL used to stand for “Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leadership,” but the conference will now be known as “GOAL: The Responsible Seafood Conference.”

“On this 20th anniversary of GOAL, we are looking forward to broadening the discussion to include wild-capture fisheries and connecting seafood buyers and producers throughout the value chain through the global connectivity of virtual meetings and the relationship-building power of face-to-face meetings,” GAA President and Founder George Chamberlain said in a press release.

The GOAL conference was held entirely online in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in lieu of an in-person event that had been planned to take place in Tokyo, Japan in October 2020 (the Tokyo event is now slated to take place in 2022).

GAA Communications and Events Manager Steven Hedlund said attendees have expressed a lot of interest in the in-person option in Seattle, but that last year’s forced pivot to a digital event “really strengthened the program overall.”

“At GOAL 2020, we had about 800 attendees actively participate in the virtual event, and we’ve never had more than 550 attendees at the in-person event,” he told SeafoodSource. “Additionally, the program was one of the strongest to date, with 50 speakers, about two-thirds of which spoke at GOAL for the first time. These attendees and speakers may not have been available to join us last year had there been an in-person event. Looking ahead to this year, we’re employing a ‘hybrid’ approach, with a series of virtual events and an in-person event, to give our community as many opportunities as possible to connect, network, and learn.”

GAA is custom-building a platform to host one half-day virtual event per month from April to October. These events will feature a series of preliminary sessions to arrive at key priorities for further discussion at the meeting in Seattle.

“The silver lining of the pandemic is that it prompted us to rethink how we deliver GOAL,” Hedlund said. “The high-level content that’s traditionally part of the plenary at the in-person event will instead be delivered through a series of virtual events held throughout the year, available to all GAA individual and corporate members. That content will be summarized at the in-person event, freeing up time for attendees to engage in in-depth discussions and participate in the business, social, and networking activities that GOAL is known for.”

The first virtual session is scheduled for 15 April and is tentatively titled “Tomorrow’s Aquaculture Will Be Shaped by Today’s Emerging Technologies." It will explore how new tools can make aquaculture efficient, profitable, sustainable, and humane.

According to Hedland, wild fisheries topics accounted for about 10 to 15 percent of the content last year and will take up about a third of the schedule in 2021. By 2022, GAA is aiming to hit a 50-50 split between wild-capture and aquaculture topics.

Reporting from Portland, Oregon

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