Jun 30, 2020

Regional e-Notes: June Letter from the Director


As we enter the fourth month of the so-called ‘new normal,’ my team and I once again hope that this newsletter finds you safe and sound. As I have said for the last few months, the tragic toll of the global pandemic cannot be understated, and we first and foremost wish to send our condolences and healing thoughts to all who are experiencing hardship through this crisis.

I have recently been thinking a lot about the Chinese term for crisis, which is composed of two words: challenges and opportunities. The current Covid crisis has certainly presented CTSA with challenges and opportunities, mostly related to the way our program and project PI’s interact with stakeholders, committee members and others. We have had to create our own ‘new normal’ in order to complete our development, project monitoring and information dissemination tasks. At the beginning of the month, we held our bi-annual conference calls with PI’s to discuss project updates (detailed article below). While we found that many projects are experiencing some level of difficulty due to the pandemic, most are finding innovative ways to complete their objectives. One example is the Rabbitfish project in Palau. Together with project PI’s Miguel de los Santos (Palau Community College) and Chad Callan (Oceanic Institute), CTSA helped organize a virtual workshop in place of the planned in-person seminar. The training covered hatchery production, larval rearing and grow-out of rabbitfish, one of the most popular food fish species in the Western Pacific. While a typical training of this type may attract five or so people locally, the virtual platform allowed for the attendance of nearly four times as many farmers, resource managers, and researchers from throughout the region. The participant consensus at the end of the three-day training was that it was useful and informative.

Another opportunity to extend CTSA’s reach farther than usual came in the form of our annual joint Industry Advisory Council (IAC) and Technical Committee (TC) meeting, which was held yesterday via Zoom (see picture). The meeting was completed in an efficient manner with limited technical challenges, and was attended by members based in the Western Pacific who might not normally be able to attend in person meetings on Oahu. I am very appreciative to all of our members for taking the time to attend and share their critical input on the 17 pre-proposals that CTSA received in response to our FY20 request. Now, my team and I will work to draft the Requests for Proposals, continuing our normal development cycle during this very abnormal year.

Nothing can replace in-person interaction with our friends and colleagues, but we are grateful that Zoom and similar virtual tools can be used to overcome the common disadvantages of distance in our unique, isolated region. We look forward to the day we can once again gather together for a meeting or special occasion. On that note, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies regarding the passing of our friend and colleague Dr. Paul Bienfang. CTSA will share a commemoration of Paul’s life and his significant contributions to the aquaculture industry in next month’s issue of e-Notes. Since we are unable to collectively mourn and celebrate Paul’s life in-person, we invite anyone who knew Paul to share your wishes, stories, or other sentiments to include in our commemoration; please send to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by July 25. His passing coupled with the current global situation are reminders of how precious life is, and how important we all are to each other. Please take good care of yourselves and your families.

Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director