For everyone already a part of the industry and everyone considering an aquaculture business, the Virginia Aquaculture Conference will offer a unique opportunity to get the latest information about current issues, upcoming trends and new developments in culture technology for both shellfish and finfish.

The conference will take place November 16–17, 2007, in Williamsburg, Va. and will include a trade show and plenty of chances for networking.

Two keynote addresses will set the tone for the event. Gary Jensen, USDA national program leader for aquaculture, will discuss the evolution and direction of U.S. aquaculture. Dick Jones, director of seafood for H-E-B Grocery Company, the 16th largest grocer in the U.S., will focus on aquaculture products in the retail sector.

Plenary sessions will feature presentations on funding/financing opportunities for aquaculture and the regulatory aspects of both fresh and salt water aquaculture. In addition, several concurrent sessions will address the expanding freshwater culture industry with status reports on culture activities for catfish, hybrid striped bass, freshwater prawns and aquaponics.

Additional presentations will highlight niche marketing and the newly established Virginia Aquafarmers Network (VAN).

On the saltwater culture side, a session will address national and state regulatory issues, options for post-harvest treatment of cultured shellfish, and the development of best management practices for shellfish aquaculture. A special session will feature the developing commercial oyster culture industry using new technology and the final afternoon session is intended for educators wishing to integrate aquaculture into their education plans.

The conference will take place at the George Washington Inn and Conference Center, 500 Merrimac Trail, Williamsburg, Va 23185. Registration for all events, including the Gala Aquaculture Reception, is $50, prior to Oct. 19, 2007 ($75 after).

A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees at the George Washington Inn at a rate of $70 per night. For reservations, call 757-220-1410 and mention that you are with the Virginia Aquaculture Conference in order to receive the conference rate.

For questions regarding the Virginia Aquaculture Conference contact Robins Buck at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-371-6094 or robins.buck@vdacs.virginia.gov.

Organizers of the conference include the Virginia Sea Grant Program, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), The College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), and Virginia State University.

Members of Aquaculture industry groups, such as the Virginia Aquaculture Association, Virginia Aquaculture Advisory Board, and the Aquaculture Commodity Committee of the Virginia Farm Bureau, are assisting in the development of the educational agenda.