Online seafood shows and webinars unite industry

The fish and seafood industry is complex. It relies on trade shows and conferences to connect and build networks. Many fish and seafood trade shows in 2020 were cancelled due to the risks of COVID-19. Because of this, online platforms are now connecting the seafood industry.

Every year, major producing and importing countries hold exhibits and forums. These keep fishermen, farmers, traders, processors, packers, researchers and the media up to date. However, due to the COVID-19 health risks and safety issues, big events are banned or limited. Despite the cancellations, the fish and seafood industry is now finding new ways to connect and communicate. Online web conferencing platforms and webinars are uniting the industry.

Webinars and virtual shows

To replace cancelled fish and seafood shows and conferences, many organisations are hosting webinars or virtual shows. This way, they can still provide insights into the current trends in the fish and seafood sector. CBI also held a European Fish Market webinar for developing country exporters. The webinar looked at the impact of COVID-19 on producers. Infofish is an organisation that supports fish producers and exporters in the Asia Pacific region. It organised a series of webinars on several seafood species and the impact of COVID-19. “The key to a good webinar is to have interesting topics and panellists,” Shirlene Anthonysamy, director of Infofish said.  

Ecuador’s National Chamber of Aquaculture held AquaExpo El Oro online. This event discussed the impact of COVID-19 on production and trade with markets such as China, Europe and the US. “We prepared a lot beforehand, and we are happy that the event had a good number of attendees. These were not only from Ecuador but from other countries too,” Luis Alfredo Robles, CNA Deputy Director said.

Interaction in webinars is usually limited to Question and Answer sessions or panel discussions. In the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s first Virtual GOAL 2020, they aimed to use their platform for networking and interaction. Participants were thus able to request online meetings with each other.

Online challenges

Many seafood organisations have successfully held webinars to replace panel discussions. Still, the networking aspect of the fish and seafood shows is harder to reproduce. Virtual trade shows with webinars and networking features are limited. They are usually only accessible to members, or through paid access. These webinars or virtual conferences are usually announced via social media, news websites or newsletters. Examples of news websites are Intrafish, Seafood Source or Undercurrent News. As an exporter, make sure you are on social media to receive notifications about announcements.

There are things to consider while the fish and seafood industry navigates online-based webinars and shows. One is the difference in time zones among participants from all over the world. As an exporter, check if you can view the presentations after the live presentations. Your internet connection, speed, and accessibility are also factors to consider when participating in a webinar. Log in 5 to 10 minutes earlier than the webinar to make sure that everything is working.

Engagement online is limited. Still, some webinars or seafood shows have live question and answer sessions, online matchmaking and networking within the platform. Use these opportunities to connect with your buyers and monitor the situation. Check out the CBI study for more tips on how your business can respond to the impact of COVID-19. Building trust online may be challenging but making a good first impression matters.

Events on the calendar

As the world prepares for the long-term impact of COVID-19, online conferencing provides some flexibility for businesses impacted financially. With budget cuts across the globe, this communication method is the preferred choice in most countries. Many industry players still hope that live events will be possible again soon. The following events are still planned at the moment:

  • 24-26 November 2020, AquaExpo (Guayaquil, Ecuador)
  • 14-16 March 2021, Seafood Expo North America (Boston, USA)
  • 27-29 April 2021, Seafood Expo Global (Barcelona, Spain)
  • 19-21 May 2021, Tuna 2021 (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • 14-18 June 2021, World Aquaculture 2020 (Singapore)
  • 5-7 October 2021, Conxemar (Vigo, Spain)
  • 27-29 October 2021, China International Fisheries Expo (Qingdao, China)

This news article was written for CBI by Seafood TIP.

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