Patrick Williot left us
The sturgeon world has lost an outstanding character with one of its most influential and determined members by November 25th2018. Patrick was a thoroughbred scientist with a strong background in aquaculture. Being born 21/05/1946, he received his Diploma of Engineer in agronomy (ENSA Nancy) in 1970. In the first two years of scientific practice he was at the Institute of research in tropical agronomy (Senegal), as head of the bioclimatology laboratory. From 1972 to 2007 he was Senior Scientist Engineer in CEMAGREF, now IRSTEA, and in this period he carried out several works in engineering aquaculture (extensive and intensive), mainly in freshwater and in marshlands. During 1981-1998 he was head of the sturgeon aquaculture team, and spent a year in close collaboration with Russian colleagues in order to better understand the reproduction and management of sturgeons. A knowledge that he successfully applied and increased in the subsequent reproduction trials attempting to save the European sturgeon of the Gironde from extinction. Through the work on the conservation of the European sturgeon (A. sturio) he was involved in the development of the conservation plan and spent a lot of energy building the experimental facility still in use at St Seurin. Much of this work was cofinanced by Patrick’s research for the aquaculture industry, especially the work devoted to the development of a farming approach and subsequently a caviar producing industry with the Siberian sturgeon. This work also was the basis for his PhD in 1997 at Bordeaux 1 University entitled “Reproduction de l'esturgeon sibérien (Acipenser baeri Brandt) en élevage : gestion des génitrices, compétence à la maturation in vitro de follicules ovariens et caractéristiques plasmatiques durant l'induction de la ponte”. His work has helped to develop a new aquaculture sector that acquired huge importance in France, in particular for the production of caviar.
Through these attempts he initiated the collaboration between IRSTEA and IGB as well as many other collaborations partially being maintained through his PhD students afterwards.
But beyond his work, Patrick was always keen to share information and collaborate. As such he was the person that early in the late 1980s saw the opportunity and the need to facilitate exchange between scientists working on sturgeons. As a consequence in 1989 he organized the 1st International Symposium on Sturgeons (ISS 1) “Acipenser” in Bordeaux. This initial spark was groundbreaking and thus it subsequently transformed to the International Symposium on Sturgeons (ISS) being organized around the world in a 4 year cycle. Patrick restlessly supported the events as a member of the Scientific Advisiory Committees throughout the last 30 years. He was also involved in the foundation of the IUCN Sturgeon Specialist Group, while by 2003 Patrick was among the foundation members of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society (WSCS).
After his retirement in 2007 Patrick remained active in his field of interest, working as a consultant in his own company. During this time he became a more prolific author than even before, producing monographies on the European sturgeon as well as on the Siberian sturgeon, publishing numerous papers, gave hundreds of presentations. Patrick with his devotion for science and sturgeon with his impact on the development of a farming industry as well as on conservation, with his internationalism and his engagement for joint targets is a role model for many. He will not be forgotten by all those who share a passionate for sturgeon!