Under Stevens’ leadership, GAA has experienced unprecedented growth over the past seven years, evolving into the world’s leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture, through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification system. Currently, more than 600 aquaculture facilities worldwide are BAP certified, and the combined annual output from BAP-certified processing facilities is about 1.5 million metric tons.
Also under Stevens’ direction, GAA has ascertained itself as a leading voice for responsible aquaculture, through its various communications vehicles, including its annual GOAL conference and Global Aquaculture Advocate magazine.
“GAA, like any organization, should be judged not only by what they stand for but of greater importance for what it gets done,” said Stevens. “We are a learning-and-teaching organization that advocates for growing supplies of aquaculture production done responsibly. I believe that GAA has and will continue to be a positive, science-based supporter who will make a difference for aquaculture not only where it exists today but also in countries around the world where there are needs and opportunities.”
Stevens will continue to act as GAA executive director through a transition period. Effective immediately, he will chair a search committee, along with GAA President George Chamberlain and Bill Herzig, GAA vice president and president of Darden Aquafarm Inc., to find a suitable replacement to recommend to the GAA board of directors. Stevens will work with the new executive director as he/she transitions into the role.
Stevens will also continue to serve on the GAA board of directors as he takes on a leadership role with the RAF.
With the RAF, Stevens will work to attract foundation support to promote the education and training of a new generation of leadership in the global aquaculture industry. Since its inception, RAF has undertaken a number of projects with World Bank support, including research on infectious salmon anemia in Chile, early mortality syndrome in shrimp in Vietnam and white spot syndrome virus in shrimp in Mozambique and Madagascar.
Currently, the RAF is finalizing a project with Steve Otwell of the University of Florida involving food safety, working with fish farmers and processors in Malaysia.
“Education is in my DNA, as I suspect it is for most of us. It is only through continual learning that individuals and enterprises have the greatest potential for success,” said Stevens. “With current technology, the delivery of knowledge using a combination of the Internet and the classroom is where most public and private universities are at, and that is how the RAF intends to inform men and women around the world on the great opportunities to be found in aquaculture.”
“Wally Stevens has been an exemplary leader throughout his decades in the seafood Industry. He has always focused on education, training and development of future leaders, as was the case in his work with National Fisheries Institute in creating the NFI Future Leaders program,” said Herzig. “Wally has lead the growth and development of GAA to become the largest and most respected standards-setting organization and advocate for the global aquaculture industry. We are excited to have Wally evolve into a leadership of the RAF where he will again help focus on development and training of future leaders for the industry. Everyone here at GAA is deeply in his debt for his stewardship of GAA and the entire seafood Industry.”