Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) co-hosted the 3rd World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA) Conference and Biosecurity Workshop on the island of St. Kitts during November 8 – 12, 2018.
A series of firsts
Held in the Caribbean region for the first time, the conference attracted aquatic professionals and researchers from around the region, particularly the islands of Puerto Rico, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago and globe (USA, Europe, Australia) as well as alumni, and post-graduate, and veterinary students from RUSVM.
For those who could not attend the WAVMA conference on-island, remote access with live broadcast was provided throughout the conference. Supported by RUSVM IT, this was another first that greatly expanded the conference’s reach, which allowed professionals and students regionally and globally to experience the various sessions.
“The organizing committee could not have chosen a better geographic location to learn and engage with some of the best leaders in aquatic veterinary medicine. The Caribbean, especially the island of St. Kitts offers a wide variety of aquatic animals to study and work with. It is the perfect space for anyone who is interested in aquatic health.” Dr. Sean Callanan, Dean of RUSVM.
Top presentations by leaders in aquatic veterinary medicine, practice and research
Following Dr. Callanan’s welcoming address, notable keynote presentations were made by Dr. Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy and Dr. Richmond Loh, “The Fish Vet”, a veterinarian specializing in Aquatics & Pathobiology with residence in Perth, Australia. While Dr Mathiesen spoke on One Health, Environmental Stewardship and the Role of Aquatic Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Loh introduced “Fishnostics” through a presentation on Disease, Diagnostics, and Clinical Aquatic Veterinary Medicine.
This year’s presentations shed light on a wealth of research, as well as an immediate opportunity for participants to engage in discussions with leading professionals. Parallel plenary sessions offered several tracks on aquatic veterinary education and health, recreational water illnesses, new technology, and research opportunities in aquatic animal care.
A mainstay of the conference was the inaugural gathering of the Koi practitioners working group led by Dr. Julius Tepper. Wet labs provided a change of pace and participants were able to gain hands-on experience with Dr. Mark Freeman and the Finfish clinical examination held on the RUSVM campus and the Dolphin clinical examination held at Dolphin Discovery-St Kitts with Dr. Maria Vences. Aquaculture Biosecurity finished out the conference with table-top exercises led by Dr. Dušan Palić and on-farm exercises that included Dr. Barrington Brown’s Snapper Tilapia Farm.
RUSVM students win top awards
Just a few years ago RUSVM alum, Dr. Jenice Bell led an ambitious effort and organized a WAVMA Student chapter on campus. She along with current club president, Courtney Mcgonigle, student members, and executive leaders of WAVMA were present in full numbers at this year’s conference and presented at an open forum the aquatic certification process and membership.
Many RUSVM WAVMA club members also presented posters of their research activities involving various aquatic species and activities with multiple species (whales, lobsters, sea urchins, corals). The top three poster awards were conferred to RUSVM students, Kelsey Johnson, Nicole Atherley, and Katie Heisler by Dr. David Scarfe, the president of WAVMA at an awards ceremony and banquet. The RUSVM WAVMA club also received high recognition for having the largest student membership in the association.
An overall success
“As co-host of this first-time event, we believe the 2018 WAVMA Conference was a great success. Through a team effort, we aimed at providing attendees with a broad scope of information from geopolitical, regional, and local perspectives on the concept of One Health in the context of aquatic veterinary medicine, research, and biosecurity. Based on the feedback from attendees, “…when is the next one…” we’re confident we delivered a quality program that was informative and inspirational for professionals and students alike.” Drs. Don Bergfelt and Mark Freeman, RUSVM professors and conference organizers.