Issue nr WEAREAQUACULTURE In-depth journalism, interviews, industry insights and case studies covering the aquaculture sector like no one else.

In-depth journalism, interviews, industry insights and case studies covering the aquaculture sector like no one else.


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First Edition | march - june 2023<br />

wEAREAquAculturE ®<br />




wEAREFEED ®<br />







Your<br />

Executive<br />

Search &<br />

Recruitment<br />

Partner.<br />

Finding the best people for your<br />

aquaculture and seafood business<br />

critical roles.<br />

aquaculturetalent.com<br />


AquacultureTalent is a leader<br />

in search and headhunting<br />

consultancy, with headquarter<br />

and offices in Norway, Spain,<br />

UK and the USA, we operate<br />

at a global level in 4 core<br />

sectors; aquaculture, seafood,<br />

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<strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong> MAGAZINE<br />

WHY <strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong><br />

06<br />


08<br />



14<br />






19<br />

22<br />



28<br />



36<br />



46<br />




50<br />



28<br />

Debra Hellbach, is the Manager at<br />

Vancouver Island University Centre<br />

for Seafood Innovation and a<br />

real seafood advocate.<br />

36<br />

Talking to Sylvia Wulf, CEO of<br />

AquaBounty Technologies, about<br />

aquaculture is… ‘different’.<br />

19<br />

14<br />

Kontali, an independent world-leading provider<br />

of data and analyses covering large parts of global<br />

aquaculture and fisheries, publishes each year the<br />

Norwegian Aquaculture Supplier Report<br />

Interview with Ola Kvalheim, CEO of Ode (former<br />

Gadus Group) about the company situation and an<br />

outlook into the future.<br />


WHY<br />

<strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong><br />

Because you are not alone.<br />

We are a driven and creative aquaculture,<br />

seafood and fisheries community.<br />

And this will be our meeting place,<br />

edition after editon.<br />

Because it is our belief to Inspire<br />

progress globally where most<br />

important is people factor.<br />

Because we are super-professionals, not<br />

superheroes. And we are not afraid to<br />

show our human side, the one that makes<br />

us unique both at work and at home.<br />

Because we know you want to<br />

be up to date with what’s going<br />

on in the aquaculture, seafood<br />

and fisheries industry and be<br />

inspired, so we’ll revolutionize<br />

Storytelling, Employer Branding.<br />

Because we should repeat to ourselves<br />

every day how exciting it is to have<br />

on hand every day the most valuable<br />

resources that exist: people.<br />

From interviews, case studies, talent and<br />

companies stories, employer branding,<br />

industry insights and news to advertising,<br />

our mix of curated and exclusive original<br />

content is designed to bring awareness<br />

and provide creative solutions dedicated<br />

for the Aquaculture, Seafood, Fisheries<br />

communities.<br />

Because it ‘s not just about<br />

Aquaculture, Seafood, Fisheries<br />

industry, it’s also about us, about<br />

the people behind industry.<br />



Team<br />



wEAREAquAculturE ®<br />


Ruben Botn Jørgensen<br />

ruben@weareaquaculture.com<br />


Editor<br />

Marta N. Gutiérrez<br />

Editor<br />

Louisa Gairn<br />

Ruben Botn Jørgensen<br />



Marta N. Gutiérrez<br />

EDITOR<br />

Louisa Gairn<br />

EDITOR<br />

Journalist<br />

Carmen Maria Halpin<br />

Manages our company’s social<br />

media marketing, strategic<br />

partner programs and growth.<br />

Dedicated to aquaculture and<br />

seafood industry, contributing<br />

from day one to the design<br />

and communication of editorial<br />

projects, brand development,<br />

employer branding, industry<br />

insights and editorial<br />

advertising solutions.<br />

Storytelling is her passion since<br />

more than 20 years ago and<br />

these days she enjoys writing<br />

about the seafood industry and<br />

it is people. Native to a fishing<br />

village in northern Spain, fishing<br />

is part of her culture. She has a<br />

master’s and bachelor’s degree<br />

in journalism and radio.<br />

Experienced journalist and<br />

editor with international<br />

experience (Scotland, Finland,<br />

and Spain). In addition to her<br />

work as a professional writer,<br />

a published author, she is<br />

passionate about helping<br />

others tell their stories, and<br />

thrives on working with people<br />

from diverse fields, countries,<br />

and cultures.<br />

Content writer<br />

Rocío Á. Jiménez<br />

Images<br />

Adobe Stock<br />

CEO<br />

Cristian L. Popa Aved<br />

cristian@weareaquaculture.com<br />

SALES<br />

advertising@weareaquaculture.com<br />

sales@weareaquaculture.com<br />


Falkenborgvegen 9,<br />

7044 Trondheim<br />

Cristian L. Popa Aved<br />

CEO<br />

Carmen Maria Halpin<br />


Rocío Á. Jiménez<br />


Norway<br />

+47 45 000 900<br />

Specialized in management,<br />

A journalist from the south of<br />

She always loved to tell stories.<br />

editorial@weareaquaculture.com<br />

executive search, recruitment,<br />

Andalusia where our ancestors<br />

This is the reason why she,<br />

and business development for<br />

have always given a vital value<br />

became a journalist. She had<br />

the aquaculture and seafood<br />

industry. Successful and<br />

to land and sea. Carmen comes<br />

with a bachelor’s degree from<br />

the opportunity to develop her<br />

career in different countries and<br />

WWW.<strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong>.COM<br />

proven business leader with<br />

over 15 years of experience<br />

in strategic and operational<br />

the University of Sevilla. As a<br />

communicator, she wants to<br />

share stories and show why the<br />

industries and subsequently as<br />

a Social Media Editor too. With<br />

her passion for word she now<br />

We Are Aquaculture magazine is a brand<br />

product of AquacultureTalent, published by<br />

<strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong> AS.<br />

management at a senior level.<br />

At AquacultureTalent he is<br />

sea and everything related to<br />

it matter a lot. Communication<br />

writes daily news and stories<br />

from aquaculture and seafood<br />

ISSN 2704-0801<br />

responsible for developing<br />

is her passion and she has a<br />

industry.<br />

business strategies and driving<br />

the company to growth and<br />

success.<br />

strong belief that information<br />

is an important instrument of<br />

power that society must have.<br />

© Copyright 2023 <strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong> AS. All rights reserved.<br />

Title is protected through a trademark registered with<br />

the Norwegian and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Printed<br />

in the U.S.A & Europe. Reproduction of any material from this<br />

publication is strictly prohibited without the prior consent of<br />

the publisher.<br />


Strengthen the<br />

Author<br />

Rocio Álvarez Jiménez<br />

shrimp industry<br />

The pending task<br />

Today is trendy to talk about shrimp. There is not a day that goes<br />

by without news regarding this incipient sector about which little is<br />

known and much is wanted to be discovered<br />

There are even some who dare to<br />

ensure that after salmon, prawns<br />

are the main successors in terms<br />

of great aquaculture products.<br />

But the salmon business has changed a lot<br />

in the last 20 years. It has been developed,<br />

modernized, and customized. Instead, the<br />

shrimp sector looks like more to the Devil’s<br />

Triangle. Shrimp farms are small and belong<br />

in the majority of cases to the family business.<br />

Then, the final product is sold to a local<br />

processor. Consequently, the process of<br />

entering the highly complex global supply<br />

chain is almost impossible or at least<br />

challenging.<br />

Therefore, it seems more than pertinent<br />

to ask the most relevant experts for their<br />

opinions and solutions in this regard.<br />

WeAreAquaculture has had the privilege<br />

of peeking a little more into this emergent<br />

world.<br />

Firstly, the Vice President of Sales<br />

Aquaculture at RIMFROST AS, reminds<br />

us that the shrimp industry in the main<br />

producing countries like Ecuador and India<br />

is very fragmented. Incuding some large<br />

producers and many smaller companies.<br />

“I think consolidation is taking place through<br />

the commercialization and export of the<br />

products since many of the smaller producers<br />

don’t have the infrastructure and contacts to<br />

do the processing and exports. They do that<br />

through the processing facilities of the bigger<br />

companies. The market itself will push for<br />

consolidation, to channel all the increased<br />

production to the international markets.”<br />

Because of this fragmentation, a senior<br />

analyst at Kontali, Sander Visch remarks that<br />

the shrimp industry is harder to map in terms<br />

of data collection. Constant data surveillance<br />

is key to unlocking and establishing reliable<br />

data. Data are the building blocks of any<br />

successful analysis. From which forecast,<br />

and risk analysis can be established, and<br />

investments can be made to promote<br />

modernization in the sector, he highlights.<br />


To become a consolidated<br />

and modernized sector<br />


we can consider shrimp farming sustainable.<br />

In the sense that it can continue over time<br />

without significantly affecting the natural environment<br />

beyond its present state.<br />

In the same line, Rico Wibisono, Chief Operating<br />

Officer at FisTx, adds we must reduce<br />

the lack of knowledge among shrimp farming<br />

holders by introducing technology with gradual<br />

steps. Second, we must be open mind for<br />

tech and data because data is new mining in<br />

the future. All, can reduce risk and optimize<br />

What about<br />

sustainability<br />

profit.<br />

Finally, consultant RAS shrimp farming,<br />

Philip Buike, advises technological advances<br />

take their time to develop. As we have seen in<br />

traditional shrimp-producing areas across<br />

the globe, technological advancement is neither<br />

linear nor rapid. While standard designs<br />

and procedures emerge these are the most<br />

optimum mix of resource use, financial risk,<br />

and complexity for each particular area be it<br />

Latam, South East Asia, or India.<br />

Regarding sustainability certifications, Visch<br />

notes that some farms have already gained<br />

them. However, there is also a group of<br />

agents who are more directly controlling<br />

farm operations or even their cash (flow),<br />

and unfortunately do not always have the<br />

best interest of the farmer at heart. But to<br />

change the sector, we need to involve them<br />

as well and provide a place for them in the<br />

supply chain, which is easier said than done<br />

as cultural and community structures are<br />

sometimes difficult to adjust.<br />

Moreover, he adds it is largely down to the<br />

farmers, and their commitment to improving<br />

their business operations. However, usually<br />

cost is involved which they cannot always<br />

bear. Therefore, third parties could provide<br />

assistance in providing sustainable loans<br />

or another way of financing. However, they<br />

need to have a good understanding of the<br />

risks involved, and that is where data analysis<br />

and information are key again.<br />

On the other hand, Buike focuses the debate<br />

on energy use. On the surface, it would<br />

appear that inland shrimp farming could<br />

successfully present itself as an ecologically<br />

responsible enterprise. It is important to note<br />

that most of the world´s shrimp currently<br />

come from simple phototrophic systems. The<br />

sun is the primary energy source to drive the<br />

system.<br />

Any move towards intensification requires<br />

some sort of external energy input. It is the<br />

relative cost of this energy versus production<br />

gains that will determine technological advance<br />

in any particular region, he explains.<br />

Companies are now more aware of the need<br />

to make the sector sustainable. Many of them<br />

are reforesting the mangroves and doing social<br />

work, López Alvarado recalls. At present<br />


In addition, the Chief Operating Officer at FisTx asks<br />

for a farming system with a minimum water exchange.<br />

A policy for wastewater treatment with mangrove zone<br />

with communal wastewater treatment. Finally, customer<br />

awareness of trigger prices is a reward for saving the<br />

environment.<br />

Shrimp farming in Europe<br />

One of the questions that arouse more curiosity today is<br />

how the old continent must compete against the other<br />

markets. How Europe can install and competent a consolidate<br />

shrimp industry.<br />

For shrimp farming to work in Europe, it must be extremely<br />

efficient in resource use. Particularly in two key<br />

areas, water use, and labor demand. In simple terms,<br />

if labor and real estate costs are high, you have to<br />

produce a lot in a small space with as few people as<br />

possible, Buike says.<br />

Labor use is minimized by automating many repetitive<br />

tasks traditionally done by relatively unskilled labor, and<br />

production per unit volume should be at least one order<br />

of magnitude higher than that achieved in semi-intensive<br />

open pond systems.<br />

Thus, the consultant RAS shrimp farming stage the<br />

challenge in both maximizing return per unit energy<br />

input and securing renewable means to provide that<br />

energy. Therefore it is premature to talk about the<br />

international market penetration of European-farmed<br />

shrimp.<br />

However, what is very clear, is the massive potential<br />

homegrown shrimp has within the domestic market. The<br />

question here is how could European shrimp compete<br />

with imports in this extremely lucrative market. The real<br />

key to the future of shrimp farming in Europe depends<br />

entirely on the size and robustness of this market, he<br />

states.<br />

The logical conclusion of this train of thought is what<br />

we are seeing at present with the new high-tech RAS<br />

operations throughout Europe. Theoretically, beyond the<br />

initial filling of the facility, water use is practically zero.<br />


Besides, López Alvarado alerts about the<br />

small size of the European production.<br />

Production costs are higher. In my opinion, the<br />

European producers should take advantage of<br />

being close to a very good market. Also, specialize<br />

in selling a fresh product, or even live<br />

product that does not compete with the products<br />

coming from South America and Asia.<br />

Alike, Wibisono encourages European farmers<br />

to take advantage of the market they can<br />

approach. I think that quality and higher prices<br />

can be achieved with RAS and biofloc model.<br />

Direct order, quality, freshness, taste, and zero<br />

waste can be good for promotion to European<br />

customers.<br />

Seeking for<br />

professionals<br />

Just by scratching a little, you can see how the sector is full of specialized<br />

people with a thorough knowledge of the system. However, Despite this, it<br />

is striking how the sector still has a long way to go to become professionalized.<br />

Educating and communicating seems a convulsive task.<br />

Lastly, Philip Buike shares his concerns about this. The main challenge in<br />

this area is the fact that often larger start-ups do not have experienced aquaculturists<br />

at the senior executive level.<br />

This potentially can be problematic. As the criteria needed to make critical<br />

decisions often has to come from third parties. Those whose own experience of<br />

shrimp culture be it intensive or otherwise, is limited.<br />

This has led to major design flaws remaining undetected until production has<br />

begun. Invariably leading to expensive refits and in some cases, loss of investor<br />

confidence. Whilst this is most definitely not unique in the aquaculture world,<br />

the situation contrasts sharply with Equador for example. Here all the major<br />

players have grown over many years. The executive teams have an intimate<br />

knowledge of their business, he underlines.<br />


Local Knowledge,<br />

Global Reach.<br />

Your<br />

Executive<br />

Search<br />

Partner.<br />

Finding the best people for your<br />

aquaculture and seafood business<br />

critical roles.<br />

Norway Office<br />

Falkenborgvegen 9, 4. etg.<br />

7044 Trondheim<br />

USA Office<br />

101 Parkshore Drive, Suite 100<br />

Folsom, CA 95630<br />

Scotland Office<br />

272 Bath Street<br />

Glasgow, G2 4JR<br />

Spain Office<br />

Carrer de Ruiz Zorrilla, 1,<br />

12001, Castelló<br />

+47 476 32 721 / +47 45 000 920<br />

+1 916 385 7214<br />

+44 (0) 739 840 3927<br />

hello@aquaculturetalent.com<br />


An Inside Look at<br />

Aquaculture<br />

Photo<br />

by Kontali<br />

Author Ruben Jørgensen<br />

Suppliers<br />

Costs, Competition and Concerns:<br />


About Kontali<br />

When it comes to<br />

aquaculture, beyond<br />

production, there is a<br />

network of suppliers<br />

that are also essential for the chain to<br />

continue functioning. Aware of this,<br />

Kontali, an independent world-leading<br />

provider of data and analyses covering<br />

large parts of global aquaculture and<br />

fisheries, publishes each year the<br />

Norwegian Aquaculture Supplier Report.<br />

We spoke to one of its analysts, Arild<br />

Stormer about the highlights of the latest<br />

edition, 2022.<br />

Kontali is an independent worldleading<br />

provider of data and<br />

analyses covering large parts of<br />

global aquaculture and fisheries.<br />

Their mission is to acquire a<br />

comprehensive understanding<br />

of the realm of aquaculture<br />

and fisheries, including the<br />

various species and their<br />

interconnections. By sharing their<br />

extensive knowledge of seafood,<br />

they aim to promote a more<br />

balanced world, both above and<br />

below the surface.<br />

Kontali’s Norwegian Aquaculture<br />

Suppliers 2022 report includes<br />

up to 14 different segments of the<br />

aquaculture supply chain:<br />

According to Arild, it appears that a trend<br />

is beginning to emerge. While there are<br />

variations among companies, a general<br />

trend towards consolidation within the<br />

supplier industry is becoming evident.<br />

Many companies are seeking economies<br />

of scale and greater access to a broader<br />

range of services and larger portfolio,<br />

resulting in a rise in mergers and<br />

acquisitions.<br />

This is something that is happening<br />

especially in the wellboat segment<br />

and Stormer gives us an example with<br />

Åkerblå. The leader in knowledgebased<br />

marine health company has been<br />

acquiring smaller firms in recent years.<br />

Stormer explains that, as the trend<br />

towards more and more mergers<br />

becomes evident, we see that there is<br />

also innovation within the industry that<br />

contributes to increased competition.<br />

However, this also means that entering<br />

the market and gaining market share is<br />

becoming increasingly capital-intensive.<br />

» Broodstock, breeding and<br />

genetics<br />

» Medications, vaccinations, and<br />

chemicals<br />

» Fish health services<br />

» Feed producers<br />

» Shipyards<br />

» Site service and support<br />

» Net and net service providers<br />

» Sea lice treatment systems<br />

» Well boat operators<br />

» Packaging<br />

» Certification<br />

» Land-based and closedcontainment<br />

technology<br />

suppliers<br />

» Multidiscipline<br />

» Other suppliers<br />

The report is based in various sources, mainly the official<br />

financial statements available from The Brønnøysund<br />

Register Center, and, although it does not cover all<br />

suppliers to the Norwegian aquaculture industry, it does<br />

analyse a broad sample of 178 suppliers.<br />

“Generally speaking, the wellboat segment<br />


An emerging trend<br />

has extremely good profit margins and has<br />

had them for several years. Over time, they<br />

have received more assignments and have<br />

become a bigger part of daily operations.<br />

They not only deliver fish, but also have<br />

a greater role in delousing (thermally<br />

and mechanically), which accounts for<br />

approximately NOK 7 billion annually”, he<br />

says.<br />

Wellboat, the segment with<br />

the largest increase<br />

The fact is that the sales revenue for<br />

the wellboat segment has significantly<br />

increased by 3.3 billion NOK from 2020,<br />

representing a 9% increase in just<br />

one year. However, there have been<br />

significant variations in activity levels<br />

among operators, with five companies<br />

reporting negative earnings before<br />

interest and taxes (EBIT).<br />

The larger companies (Froy, Rostein,<br />

Solvtrans and Norsk Fisketransport) with<br />

a strong market position are more likely<br />

to secure contracts, but as profitability<br />

increases within the wellboat industry,<br />

new entrants are seeking to establish<br />

themselves in the market and share in<br />

the profits.<br />

to build them themselves. As Stormer<br />

explains, a company such as Alsaker<br />

– one of the leading farming groups<br />

in Norway when it comes to salmon<br />

production – may say, “When it is so<br />

expensive to rent a wellboat, it is better to<br />

do the job ourselves.”<br />

The risks facing<br />

aquaculture’s suppliers<br />

During his conversation with<br />

WeAreAquaculture, Arild Stormer<br />

highlights one more thing, a risk for<br />

Norwegian aquaculture suppliers: the<br />

ground rent tax in Norway. We do not<br />

know the full repercussions of this in<br />

the long run, he explains. There are<br />

already investments worth billions that<br />

have been frozen and projects have been<br />

halted, precisely due to the tax. Although<br />

this primarily impacts those with food<br />

fish licenses, it will also affect other<br />

collaborating actors in the value chain.<br />

This may lead to more focus on the cost<br />

side of operations, further increasing<br />

pressure and competition among<br />

suppliers.<br />

Aquaculture companies have begun<br />

building their own wellboats to avoid<br />

relying on a shipping company, choosing<br />


Moreover, the impact of the salmon<br />

tax is expected to have significant<br />

consequences on the direct supply<br />

industry, with investors in hatcheries,<br />

and further processing being affected.<br />

In conclusion, while the long-term<br />

effects of the rent tax remain uncertain,<br />

it is clear that the tax is causing concern<br />

across the entire value chain, with larger<br />

consequences than initially anticipated.<br />

It may take a few years before we fully<br />

understand its impact.<br />

Photo<br />

by Arild Stormer<br />


18 <strong>WEAREAQUACULTURE</strong> MAGAZINE | ISSUE 1<br />

Cod farming is gaining momentum,<br />

how far will it reach?

Author<br />

Ruben Jørgensen<br />

Competing for Success<br />

in Norway’s Thriving<br />

Aquaculture Industry<br />

How did the idea of starting with<br />

cod farming come about?<br />

The cod farming<br />

industry has been<br />

gaining momentum<br />

as an excellent<br />

opportunity to provide<br />

sustainable and healthy<br />

protein to the world. We had<br />

the opportunity to talk to Ola<br />

Kvalheim, CEO of former<br />

Gadus Group, now Ode, the<br />

Norwegian-based cod farming<br />

company, and discussed the<br />

challenges and opportunities<br />

in the industry.<br />

The world needs more healthy and<br />

sustainable protein, and farming cod is an<br />

excellent opportunity to solve both the need<br />

for more protein and the need for more<br />

sustainable food production. I grew up in a<br />

small rural community along the Norwegian<br />

coastline, with a long heritage of exporting<br />

cod. Before the tremendous success of the<br />

salmon industry, cod was the most important<br />

seafood option from Norway. Now we are<br />

finally able to successfully farm the iconic<br />

Atlantic cod.<br />

What is the biggest challenge of<br />

cod farming compared to salmon<br />

farming?<br />

At Ode we have been building a company,<br />

organisation and structure from the ground<br />

to almost 100 employees in less than 3 years.<br />

People often talk about licenses, farms, and<br />

boats, and seem to somehow forget that we<br />

are building completely new organisations,<br />

a new culture and creating solid structures.<br />

Photos<br />

Ola Kvalheim, CEO of Ode,<br />

photo by Ode Kvalheim<br />


Salmon companies are large and have a long<br />

history with the existing set-up. We are young<br />

and innovative with tremendous growth and<br />

dynamism.<br />

How do you see the competition<br />

evolving in the future, with more and<br />

more players trying their hand at cod<br />

farming?<br />

We think the publicly available projections of<br />

growth of the industry over the next 3-5 years<br />

is greatly overestimated. Publicly announced<br />

estimated harvest volumes for 2023-2025 have<br />

already started coming down and we expect more<br />

negative revisions to growth outlook through<br />

2023. In the long run, the industry has fantastic<br />

potential for growth and value creation, and we<br />

expect to be the key driver of that growth. It’s the<br />

typical problem of overestimating short-term<br />

changes and underestimating long-term changes.<br />

What are your thoughts on going<br />

public in the near future, like<br />

Norcod?<br />

We are very pleased with our shareholder<br />

structure and currently do not foresee any<br />

changes. Our structure provides a stable and<br />

long-term foundation for developing our<br />

company. This long-term orientation allows us to<br />

build organisational structure, improve our value<br />

chain, develop our operations and scale according<br />

to the relevant input factors. Put together, that is<br />

a key differentiating factor for us.<br />

What measures have been taken<br />

to prevent unfortunate incidents<br />

like the escaped cod from the Volda<br />

location?<br />

significantly in new and modern equipment.<br />

The most important strategy is always to have<br />

competent and experienced people that have the<br />

right mindset, the right culture and work well<br />

together. We are very data-driven and have more<br />

than 100 sensors in each of our farms. Together<br />

with our underwater cameras, this connects our<br />

control room and feeding central to our farms<br />

and ensures we monitor key aspects live. It also<br />

enables us to gather and analyse data to learn and<br />

improve faster all the time. We spend significant<br />

time getting to the bottom of any type of incident<br />

impacting our company negatively. For the<br />

incident at Volda we did that, found the cause and<br />

have now made the necessary changes.<br />

What are Ode’s overall future plans?<br />

We are sticking to the ambitious growth-plan we<br />

set back in 2020. We are very long term oriented<br />

and aim to be a leading seafood company in the<br />

future. Initially we had a clear focus on building<br />

our organisation, our value chain, establishing<br />

best-in-class operations and positioning our<br />

product in the market. Based on very strong<br />

operations and biology coupled with solid<br />

demand for our products, we are now scaling<br />

significantly up.<br />

Have there been no investment<br />

stoppages in the cod industry?<br />

Investment is drying up everywhere – salmon,<br />

other species, land-based. Risk premium for<br />

investments in Norway has gone materially up<br />

due to increased political risk. Specialty taxes<br />

imposed ex-post change behaviour and make<br />

people think twice about investing in new projects<br />

and new companies.<br />

We run our operations according to the same high<br />

standards as the rest of the aquaculture industry<br />

in Norway, are certified and have invested<br />


Interview with Ola Kvalheim, CEO of Ode (former Gadus Group) about<br />

the company situation and an outlook into the future.<br />


Unterfex morae,menRitiliu voccivivis<br />

etilicul husonduc ficae nos, condees<br />

immortuu<br />

Author<br />

Marta Negrete<br />

In salmon<br />

we trust<br />

Price rises, but consumer demand starts to<br />

fall. Will salmon hold its own at the top in<br />

times of inflation? Experts think so.<br />

Early november 2022 the<br />

Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC)<br />

announced that in October the<br />

value of salmon exports broke<br />

records once again. “The most significant<br />

contribution to the increase in value is the<br />

increased price”, Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood<br />

Analyst at the NSC, said in the report.<br />

However, it also included a wake-up call:<br />

reports suggest a decline in seafood domestic<br />

consumption. “We live in demanding and<br />

troubled times, with high food inflation and a<br />

fierce battle for proteins worldwide”, said the<br />

NSC CEO, Christian Chramer. So, the present<br />

is encouraging, but what does the future look<br />

like? Will salmon be able to keep prices this<br />

high if demand falls?<br />

High prices and good prospects<br />

Since the pandemic and until this<br />

announcement, demand for Atlantic salmon<br />

has only increased in recent years. An<br />

increase that, as Finn-Arne Egeness, Chief<br />

Analyst Seafood at Nordea, explains, has been<br />

driven by market and product development,<br />


Photo<br />

Arturo Clément, COB & CEO<br />

at SalmonChile.<br />

Photo by SalmonChile.<br />

as well as by economic development, a<br />

growing world population, and also by the<br />

increased attention to health and eating<br />

habits in various consumer segments. Despite<br />

this increase, total salmon production<br />

will decrease in 2022, to 2.862 million tons<br />

compared to 2.894 million tons in 2021.<br />

So far, that hasn’t affected prices – quite<br />

the contrary. “This year, salmon prices have<br />

been all-time high. This is due to increased<br />

demand post-pandemic, increased food<br />

prices, and a negative growth in the global<br />

salmon supply”, says Egeness. Paul T. Aandahl<br />

comments the same, although the Seafood<br />

Analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council<br />

adds a nuance: “We see a reduction in<br />

consumption at home, it’s a global trend”, he<br />

says, “the prices are going up on the salmon<br />

products as we see for all other types of<br />

protein if we compare with the same period<br />

last year”.<br />

From Chile, Arturo Clément, COB & CEO<br />

at SalmonChile, tells WeAreAquaculture<br />

something very similar. “We have seen a<br />

recession that has affected the main markets<br />

where Chilean salmon arrives, but the<br />

important thing is that despite this there has<br />

not been a big impact on demand”, he says.<br />

Although, unlike other markets, they have<br />

already noticed some changes in prices.<br />

Nevertheless, they remain optimistic. “While<br />

it is true that prices have dropped from the<br />

peak shown a few months ago, the market has<br />

remained dynamic”, says Clément.<br />


So, we have a positive present but, what will<br />

happen next? According to Egeness, forward<br />

prices for fresh Norwegian salmon are very<br />

strong for both Q1 and Q2 2023 (FishPool). At<br />

the same time, all feed prices have increased<br />

due to higher feed prices following the war<br />

in Ukraine and rising inflation. “With this in<br />

mind, it is reasonable to believe that salmon<br />

prices will remain at a high level in the future”,<br />

the Nordea analyst states. “With a limited<br />

supply growth going forward, the price outlook<br />

is strong”, he adds.<br />

No substitute in the HORECA<br />

channel<br />

In explaining the reasons for the increase<br />

in demand after the pandemic, Finn-Arne<br />

Egeness makes special mention of food<br />

service. “The hotel, restaurant and catering<br />

(HORECA) segment has been of increasing<br />

importance for the salmon”, he says. Paul<br />

T. Aandahl agrees. “Since the volume to the<br />

market is approximately the same as last year,<br />

it means that the sale in food service is much<br />

higher compared last year”, he explains. “We<br />

can see a shift from at-home consumption<br />

towards out-of-home consumption, that’s a<br />

general trend”, the NSC analyst adds, “a little<br />

bit higher in the EU compared to the US, but<br />

still a high increase in demand for salmon as a<br />

raw material or for consumption”, he claims.<br />

However, the current economic situation<br />

could change this trend, as Finn-Arne<br />

Egeness warns. “If increasing energy prices<br />

and increasing interest rates reduce the number<br />

of restaurant visits, this will have a negative<br />

impact on the demand for salmon”, he says.<br />

Although he assures us that, “this is mainly<br />

the case in Europe, the US market is not hit by<br />

the same energy crisis”. But, this is not his only<br />

clarification.<br />

raw in the sushi and sashimi segment. “If<br />

you want to eat sushi, you will eat salmon in<br />

most markets and market segments”, he thinks.<br />

The data seem to prove him right, even in<br />

inflationary times. As Aandahl points out,<br />

“even though we have the huge price increase,<br />

people are paying more for electricity, fuel,<br />

etcetera, there is still a huge demand in food<br />

service”, he says. Although he qualifies, they<br />

expect that to change and see a shift back<br />

to home consumption because people are<br />

going to have less money to spend on food<br />

consumption.<br />

Nevertheless, both agree that this change<br />

does not necessarily have to be negative<br />

as far as demand for salmon is concerned.<br />

“Sushi is also perfect for take away, so if the<br />

consumption drops in the restaurant, take<br />

away may increase”, believes Finn-Arne<br />

Egeness. And Paul T. Aandahl adds a new<br />

variable. “I expect consumers to go less out<br />

on restaurants next year, this winter, maybe.<br />

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be very<br />

negative for the salmon because salmon is<br />

easy to prepare at home, we saw that during<br />

the pandemic”, the NSC analyst tells us.<br />

What the pandemic left behind<br />

That variable, household consumption, was<br />

strengthened after the pandemic. “During the<br />

pandemic, people learnt how to cook salmon at<br />

home, so they have this knowledge now, and so<br />

I think it’s very easy for them to go back and<br />

prepare salmon at home”, Aandahl remarks. To<br />

which Finn-Arne Egeness adds, “during the<br />

pandemic, there was a massive development of<br />

high-end products in retail, this is an advantage<br />

of the economic development reduces the<br />

number of restaurant visits”.<br />

The Chief Analyst Seafood at Nordea also<br />

stresses that a big advantage of salmon is the<br />

“lack of substitute”, especially when consumed<br />


Photo<br />

Finn-Arne Egeness, Chief Analyst Seafood,<br />

Nordea. Photo: Marius Fiskum.<br />

So, when it comes to indulging, indoors or out,<br />

salmon will continue to be an option. As Egeness<br />

mentioned earlier, Aandahl also believes that raw<br />

salmon is the key. “I think, raw consumption will<br />

still be in a positive trend”, he states. “It means that,<br />

even though you have less money to spend, you will<br />

kind of prioritize this, the raw salmon because you<br />

expect to buy very high-quality fish, and you buy it<br />

because you want to treat yourself with something<br />

while kind of extra if you want to celebrate<br />

something or whatever”.<br />

But salmon is not just a premium option. The<br />

reality is that it has become a must in the basic<br />

shopping basket for many families, even in<br />

countries where it is an imported fish. “That’s why<br />

I think the consumption will be quite robust, even<br />

though people are getting less money to spend,<br />

they will still continue to buy salmon. They might buy<br />

some, well, kind of cheaper salmon products, could be an<br />

effect, but they will still buy salmon”, says NSC’s Seafood<br />

Analyst.<br />

Finn-Arne Egeness agrees. “In the fresh fish counter<br />

in retail, consumers hit by prices inflation and higher<br />

energy costs might choose cheaper alternatives than<br />

salmon”, he tells us, “if possible, some consumers might<br />

choose frozen salmon ahead of fresh salmon, if frozen<br />

salmon is more economically affordable”.<br />

Salmon, a sure asset<br />

With all this in mind, to talk about the future, analysts<br />

review the past. Thus, while they are aware that<br />

difficult times lie ahead, both Finn-Arne Egeness<br />

(Nordea) and Paul T. Aandahl (NSC), recall what<br />

happened in previous financial crises. “Regarding the<br />

salmon, what we’ve seen historically is that the negative<br />

market trends have a really very small effect on salmon<br />

sales”, Aandahl says, “our assumption is that the salmon<br />


Photo<br />

Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council.<br />

Photo: Marius Fiskum / Norges sjømatråd.<br />


demand is quite robust regarding these negative macro trends we<br />

expect to see in near future”.<br />

“Following the international financial crisis in 2008, salmon prices<br />

increased both in 2009 and 2010. However, this was due to a negative<br />

supply growth, following ILA challenges in Chile”, Egeness recalls.<br />

Therefore, he thinks that “with a limited supply growth going<br />

forward, the price outlook is strong” and, according to his data,<br />

Kontali expects growth of 4%, to a total production of 2.977 million<br />

tons.<br />

“Next year we expect maybe 3-4 % global growth, and you can see that,<br />

every year, after the spikes in price we can see a reduction”, supports<br />

Aandahl, “that’s the historical trend”. According to the analyst at the<br />

Norwegian Seafood Council, next year, they expect a slightly lower<br />

global increase in production than we have seen, for example, in<br />

2017 to 2018-20119, so, maybe a reduction in price. “We don’t know<br />

the price, of course, but historically it has fallen after these spikes in<br />

price”, he says, adding that for next year, because of the contracts<br />

in the salmon end market and the level of consumption, he expects<br />

“to see a higher price on the raw material to some of the markets and<br />

then that would affect the consumer price at the end”. And, even if it<br />

takes a while, that ends up affecting the volume of demand.<br />

As we said at the beginning, we are living in demanding and<br />

troubled times, and difficult times are ahead. Of course, no one<br />

can be one hundred percent sure, but everything indicates that,<br />

although with some ups and downs, salmon -and its price- will<br />

be maintained. So yes, after talking to the experts, we can say ‘in<br />

salmon we trust’.<br />


Talking to Sylvia Wulf, CEO of<br />

AquaBounty Technologies,<br />

about aquaculture is…<br />

‘different’. Hers is not the<br />

story of someone always interested in the<br />

sea or fish; she came to the industry after<br />

her previous job required her to select<br />

suppliers that ensured the sustainability<br />

of their seafood products. This led her<br />

to understand not only the business of<br />

aquaculture but also why it is so essential<br />

for the planet’s future. “I became<br />

familiar with aquaculture, and I think it’s<br />

fascinating”, she explains.<br />

The Oxford English Dictionary defines<br />

fascination as “a powerful attraction that<br />

makes something very interesting”. Seen<br />

in this light, some might think Sylvia is a<br />

convert, but she is a believer. She believes<br />

“in the promise of aquaculture” and its<br />

critical role as we move forward. She<br />

is convinced that her company can do<br />

much to feed the world by transforming<br />


Author<br />

Marta Negrete<br />

TalentView:<br />

Sylvia Wulf<br />

aquaculture with technology. She wants to<br />

achieve this by attracting the right talent, creating<br />

a career for people and ensuring animal welfare.<br />

Sylvia Wulf is not a preacher, nor does she even<br />

try to be. Her conviction and commitment<br />

are such that, inevitably, they are contagious.<br />

Listening to her is inspiring and makes us want to<br />

join her to fulfill the promise of aquaculture.<br />

Your previous work has been related<br />

to the seafood industry, but not<br />

aquaculture itself. Why now? What<br />

attracted you to aquaculture? What can<br />

you bring to the table from your previous<br />

positions and experience?<br />

I believe that aquaculture will play a critical role<br />

in meeting protein demand globally as we move<br />

forward. In my previous position at U.S. Foods,<br />

I was responsible for seafood procurement. We<br />

were conducting vendor selection and pursuing<br />

BAP [Best Aquaculture Practices] approvals for all<br />

of our vendors. We wanted them to be four-star<br />

BAP approved because we thought that matters<br />

regarding sustainability. So that was my first<br />

experience in aquaculture: understanding what<br />

it took, why it was necessary, and why it needed<br />

to be foundational to selecting our supplier<br />

partners.<br />

What I saw with AquaBounty is another method of<br />

farming that can play a critical role in providing a<br />

sustainable, nutritious protein to consumers. As<br />

we think about taking pressure off the oceans and<br />

some of the challenges that net-pen contributors<br />

have, including climate change, microplastics, all<br />

of that, we need another method of farming on<br />

land. We think that the combination of net-pen<br />

farming, ocean net-pen farming, and land-based<br />

farming will be able to meet the increasing<br />

demand, in our case, for salmon.<br />


At AquaBounty<br />

Technologies, you have<br />

two business lines.<br />

You provide nongenetically<br />

engineered<br />

and genetically<br />

engineered eggs, and<br />

you have Recirculating<br />

Aquaculture Systems<br />

(RAS) production<br />

farms. What are your<br />

prospects now that<br />

your first large-scale<br />

farm is already under<br />

construction? Will you<br />

maintain both lines?<br />

We will maintain both lines<br />

since these two components<br />

are synergistic and create<br />

a competitive point of<br />

difference for us. We operate<br />

farms because we manage<br />

recirculating aquaculture<br />

systems well. The water<br />

quality, the biology of the fish<br />

and biofiltration are what<br />

make our farms successful.<br />

Our deep understanding of<br />

biotechnology and information<br />

digital technology are<br />

fundamental to everything<br />

we do. It isn’t just genetic<br />

engineering. We look at gene<br />

editing and selective breeding<br />

using advanced genetic tools<br />

to improve our non-transgenic<br />

and transgenic stock.<br />

What makes your salmon<br />

different from others?<br />

The genetic engineering on<br />

our salmon took place 30 years<br />

ago. Scientists were trying<br />

to find a way to protect the<br />

salmon from extreme climatic<br />

conditions. One Chinook gene<br />

was inserted into the Atlantic<br />

salmon’s genetic structure.<br />

That gene enables the salmon<br />

to eat consistently so it<br />

grows faster during its early,<br />

vulnerable stages. It doesn’t<br />

grow larger, it grows faster.<br />

Our salmon are also highly<br />

efficient in the way that they<br />

turn their feed into biomass.<br />

They consume less feed to get<br />

to the same weight, and they<br />

reach that weight faster. We<br />

are creating a healthy protein<br />

using fewer resources. Our<br />

fish are designed to thrive in a<br />

RAS farming environment.<br />


Photos<br />

By AquaBounty Technologies<br />

And if we talk about consumers, how is<br />

this new product being sold to them?<br />

Do they trust that it is a safe product,<br />

or does the fact that it is genetically<br />

modified make them wary?<br />

Pioneer (Ohio) will serve as a model for<br />

the aquaculture industry and for your<br />

continued expansion. Why are these<br />

two points so important? And what<br />

made you choose to locate in Pioneer<br />

in particular?<br />

We’ve done extensive consumer research, and<br />

once we share our story with consumers, they<br />

are fine with our product. They want to know if<br />

it’s affordable, accessible and whether it tastes<br />

good, which we can confirm on all fronts.<br />

Consumers are becoming more aware and<br />

accepting of genetic modification. They<br />

understand that genetic engineering is being<br />

used to solve a lot of our global hunger <strong>issue</strong>s,<br />

including the need for more crop production,<br />

drought, resistance to pests to produce more<br />

food with less land and less water. We do know<br />

that there’s a very vocal minority out there that<br />

is anti-GMO, but they don’t understand the<br />

facts and use misinformation. Consumers are<br />

getting wise to their tactics and recognize that<br />

biotechnology does address a lot of the hunger<br />

<strong>issue</strong>s that we’re seeing around the world.<br />

We went through an extensive site selection<br />

process with several criteria critical to the<br />

success of that facility. Water quality and<br />

quantity are two important requirements<br />

along with affordable power and receptivity<br />

to renewable energy. We also need access<br />

to quality labor, which means building<br />

relationships with universities and high<br />

schools. Lastly, we look at logistics for the<br />

site. Feed and oxygen need to be delivered<br />

in a timely manner, and, we need to serve<br />

our markets quickly. We narrowed it down to<br />

five sites and found Pioneer was an optimal<br />

location.<br />

Concerning the design, we selected RAS<br />

technology firm Innovasea to modify the design<br />

of the Ohio farm.<br />

In previous statements, you have<br />

commented that when planning a new<br />

RAS farm, the most important thing<br />

is to choose the right site, and then<br />

the design of the facility. You have<br />

also said that your new RAS farm in<br />


We’ve been operating two farms for<br />

quite a while, and we know what<br />

works, what doesn’t, and we wanted to<br />

modify the Ohio farm design for more<br />

efficiency. We wanted to design a farm<br />

where the biofiltration, fish movement<br />

and management are optimal because<br />

we want to protect the fish. Innovasea<br />

has been very collaborative in the<br />

design of the facility, taking all of the<br />

know-how that we have from Canada<br />

and Indiana and incorporating that<br />

into the design of the Ohio farm.<br />

It is commonly accepted that<br />

aquaculture has advantages<br />

over other industries when it<br />

comes to sustainability, but,<br />

if we are talking about RAS<br />

systems, what advantages do<br />

they have over farms in the<br />

sea?<br />

There are a couple of advantages.<br />

The first is a biosecure environment<br />

to protect the fish. We want to have<br />

a positive environmental impact and<br />

the biosecurity also protects the<br />

environment because we have a stateof-the-art<br />

water and wastewater<br />

treatment facility attached to the farm<br />

and we recirculate 99 percent of the<br />

water. This guarantees that the water<br />

entering the facility is optimal for<br />

the fish, and the water that exits is<br />

as good or better than the water we<br />

pulled out of the ground.<br />

We also look at turning the solid waste<br />

into fertilizer or potentially using it as<br />

renewable energy. The farm is located<br />

close to consumers resulting in a<br />

lower carbon footprint than a product<br />

that must be flown in or shipped from<br />

outside the U.S. We’re developing<br />

baselines on our greenhouse gases<br />

to manage and reduce them. As you<br />

can see, we’re very environmentally<br />

conscious in the design and operation<br />

of the farm.<br />

At AquaBounty you recently<br />

announced the appointment<br />

of Dr. Chris Beattie as chief<br />

scientific officer, of whom<br />

you said: “He will bring<br />

tremendous insight into the<br />

design and construction of<br />

our farm in Pioneer, Ohio”. So,<br />

we understand that attracting<br />

the talent needed to continue<br />

to build it and make it bigger<br />

is a priority at the company.<br />

As CEO, how important is the<br />

human factor in the company?<br />

Aquaculture will continue to change<br />

and will become more technical.<br />

We need to attract the right kind<br />

of talent to address environmental<br />

challenges and ensure that we provide<br />

a safe, secure environment for the<br />

fish. We are developing training and<br />

development programs that make this<br />

a promising career for people.<br />

We love our Indiana and Canadian<br />

farms, because we work closely with<br />

educational and academic institutions,<br />

and we think the same thing will occur<br />

in Ohio. Nobody graduates with an<br />

aquaculture degree that applies to RAS<br />

farming. It involves biology and<br />



chemistry and training to be able to recognize<br />

the behavior of the fish to ensure that the<br />

salmon are healthy and thriving.<br />

What challenges do you think<br />

AquaBounty will face in the coming<br />

years?<br />

There are two challenges. The first is a high<br />

capital cost to build these farms. We are always<br />

looking at different materials as well as various<br />

operational methods to continue to bring<br />

the cost down while continuing to be more<br />

competitive in terms of fostering the salmon.<br />

The second challenge is attracting the right<br />

talent. We will do this by sharing our purpose to<br />

feed the world by transforming aquaculture with<br />

technology. We believe that’s the future and we<br />

think that will attract individuals who share our<br />

commitment.<br />

And for yourself personally? What are<br />

your challenges?<br />

think it will be a critical component<br />

of feeding the world. We must continue<br />

to look for ways to make our industry more<br />

environmentally responsible. That’s why I want<br />

to be part of the industry, and why I want to be<br />

part of AquaBounty.<br />

Before we end our talk, Sylvia Wulf’s final<br />

words, by way of summary, are:<br />

“I believe in aquaculture, and I think that<br />

AquaBounty is going to be a critical part of the<br />

aquaculture community moving forward. As an<br />

industry, we need to be receptive to new methods,<br />

new technologies, and new tools. I think we’re a<br />

pioneer and can positively affect the industry”.<br />

We said it at the beginning, the CEO of<br />

AquaBounty Technologies is a believer<br />

and, as such hopes for a better future. At<br />

WeAreAquaculture, we also look forward to<br />

seeing that promise fulfilled.<br />

Every day is an opportunity to do what I just<br />

described. I love working with our team, I<br />

believe in the promise of aquaculture and I<br />


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With nearly 40 years<br />

of experience in the<br />

food industry, Debra<br />

Hellbach, Manager at<br />

Vancouver Island University’s Centre<br />

for Seafood Innovation, has won several<br />

awards for her work. An advocate for<br />

food in general, and food conservation in<br />

particular, this educator is, above all, a<br />

born communicator who has always held<br />

the seafood industry “near and dear” to<br />

her heart.<br />

She defines herself as “a food evangelist”<br />

and is convinced that the best way to<br />

educate is through entertainment.<br />

If instead of Debra’s TalentView this<br />

were Debra’s Show, we bet we’d have a<br />

couple of episodes titled ‘Food & Fun’ or<br />

‘Seafood & Education’. The woman who<br />

claims that “seafood is healthy, fast food”<br />

and her “very different way of thinking<br />

about innovation” are here to spread the<br />

word. This time, she’s set her sights not<br />


Author<br />

Marta Negrete<br />

TalentView:<br />

Photo<br />

Debra Hellbach, Manager at<br />

Vancouver Island University’s<br />

Centre for Seafood Innovation.<br />

Photo: Gloria Bell Island<br />

Expressions Photography.<br />

Debra Hellbach<br />

only on the public but, more importantly, on<br />

students and the industry itself, and she is having<br />

fun doing it!<br />

Trying to make a difference in the<br />

industry<br />

“When you put it in print, it’s very hard to believe<br />

that I’ve been in the industry for that long”. So<br />

begins our talk with Debra. Our questions have<br />

made her look back and realize that “it’s really<br />

quite funny because I can remember some of my first<br />

adventures in the industry, and they were seafood<br />

related”. When she did her Food Science Degree,<br />

her first destination was BC Packers, a nowshuttered<br />

company that, as far as she remembers,<br />

was the largest seafood manufacturer in British<br />

Columbia. “That goes back to the 80s“, long before<br />

some of our readers were born as she says, “but I<br />

was involved in the seafood industry, and it’s always<br />

been near and dear to my heart”. It has been there<br />

her entire life. “If you are involved in food, you’ll<br />

always have a job”, she claims, “that’s why I went<br />

into food science”.<br />

As food scientist with a master’s degree in<br />

Communication, the first thing Debra says about<br />

herself on her LinkedIn profile is that she loves<br />

“helping people make and market good food by<br />

connecting them with expertise and resources”.<br />

Right after that, she says that her “secret powers”<br />

are “broad experience, amazing connections,<br />

and focusing on what matters”. Throughout her<br />

nearly four decades of experience, she has used<br />

her powers to help many ‘foodpreneurs’ – she<br />

considers herself their “life-long promoter” –<br />

and so when this job came up, she saw it as a<br />

chance to continue that promotional work. For<br />

her, working with academia and students is very<br />

important, not only to help them understand the<br />

value of the food system but also to enrich applied<br />

research projects with their fresh perspectives.<br />


“I saw an opportunity to make<br />

a difference. And that it’s<br />

focused on seafood is absolutely<br />

fantastic”, she tells us. As<br />

Debra recalls, Canada has one<br />

of the largest coastlines in<br />

the world, “we used to be a top<br />

exporter of seafood and that’s<br />

declined, I think we’re #8 now,<br />

and that just doesn’t make any<br />

sense to me”, she explains. “We<br />

should be doing much better in<br />

the seafood arena. Obviously,<br />

aquaculture is a prime way to<br />

proceed, we need to focus on<br />

aquaculture, and I think the<br />

way to do that is through the<br />

young people and our up-andcoming<br />

leaders. And so that is<br />

why I took this position. I saw it<br />

as a real opportunity”.<br />

An opportunity she’s also<br />

having fun with. “I’m at the tail<br />

end of my career so, this is fun,<br />

right? I mean, it is really fun<br />

for me to work with students<br />

and to be part of the solution.<br />

And I think after this long<br />

career where I’ve been helping<br />

on a very small basis, working<br />

mainly with small companies<br />

and trying to help them move<br />

forward, I think I’ve landed on<br />

a potential formula where I can<br />

make a difference and so that<br />

in itself is extremely rewarding<br />

for me”.<br />

Educating students<br />

through innovation<br />

The British Columbia<br />

government established a<br />

network of Food Hubs that<br />

aims to support local food<br />

industry. The Centre for<br />

Seafood Innovation (CSI) at<br />

Vancouver Island University<br />

(VIU) was born under that<br />

umbrella, to work hand<br />

in hand with the seafood<br />

industry. At the time of the<br />

center’s establishment, the<br />

Department of Fisheries<br />

and Oceans’ Blue Economy<br />

Strategy and the Canadian<br />

Aquaculture Industry Alliance<br />

had identified research, public<br />

relations, and marketing<br />

activities as the areas the<br />

industry needed to focus on,<br />

and so a project got off the<br />

ground in which Debra was a<br />

perfect fit. As she explains,<br />

she is a “generalist” who has<br />


Photo<br />

‘Let’s Talk Seafood and Eat it Too’<br />

event about sturgeon at the VIU’s<br />

Centre for Seafood Innovation.<br />

Photo: Gloria Bell Island<br />

Expressions Photography.<br />

made many connections over the past 40 years.<br />

“I have this communications portfolio that I<br />

can draw on to help the industry. And so that’s<br />

where we’re looking at applied research, public<br />

education, and commercialization”.<br />

To understand how VIU’s Centre for Seafood<br />

Innovation works, Debra Hellbach explains<br />

that, first, it is important to understand that<br />

“innovation means so many things to so many<br />

different people”. They have decided to focus on<br />

two definitions of innovation. The first of these<br />

definitions, the simplest, is “a match between a<br />

need and a solution that results in added value”.<br />

The second, a bit more elaborate, consists<br />

of “extracting value from knowledge”. To put<br />

it more graphically, CSI is more knowledgebased<br />

than physical. “We are not an innovation<br />

centre where you come with something, and we are<br />

going to transform it into something else using<br />

equipment and innovation. We are going to do it<br />

through knowledge-based work with experts, with<br />

existing resources to try to help the industry move<br />

forward, and then we will grow as we go along”,<br />

she explains, and, as a good educator and<br />

communicator, she gives us an example.<br />

big. “We saw this and I thought well, this was an<br />

opportunity to do some product differentiation“,<br />

she explains, “working with culinary students,<br />

can we create a culinary at new products from<br />

these oysters and then demonstrate to industry<br />

that this is an opportunity?”. They could, but<br />

along the way, they learned even more. “We ran<br />

into the labor <strong>issue</strong>, and we couldn’t get shucked<br />

oysters”, CSI’s Manager tells us. The solution<br />

came through innovation, using high-pressure<br />

processing to pop the oysters open. They<br />

enlisted the help of HPP Canada, which made<br />

their job easier and taught the students how<br />

to use high-pressure processing technology.<br />

The field trip that took them from Nanaimo to<br />

Vancouver also allowed the students to visit<br />

other processing facilities during the time they<br />

were there. So, while they were getting this<br />

hands-on experience with seafood research,<br />

they were also learning about food technology<br />

and processing, and learning more about their<br />

career options.<br />

‘Exposing students to the food system’ was the<br />

official name of a project that they eventually<br />

ended up calling ‘The Oyster Challenge’. It<br />

was still the time of the pandemic and due<br />

to food service closures, there were a lot of<br />

unharvested oysters that were therefore too<br />


Back at CSI with all that information,<br />

the students participated in three<br />

labs in which their only instructions<br />

were “to create cooked products that<br />

could be used in an institution”. In<br />

British Columbia, the government has<br />

the Feed BC program where they are<br />

trying to increase the number of local<br />

foods used in institutions, but seafood<br />

is very under-represented. Debra<br />

and her team saw a new opportunity<br />

there and asked students to make<br />

oyster dishes that could be sold in<br />

a university cafeteria. Those dishes<br />

were presented to the industry at<br />

a large event where expert judges<br />

scored them. The prize included the<br />

winning dish being served in the<br />

university cafeteria. A very rewarding<br />

project that could be carried out<br />

without any facilities other than<br />

those already available at the<br />

university. When they need specialized<br />

equipment, they went where they<br />

already exist, fostering collaboration<br />

between companies and institutions<br />

within the industry. “That’s the kind of<br />

project that we can do at the university<br />

and it’s innovative in its design and<br />

delivery”, summarizes Debra.<br />

Educating the public through<br />

communication<br />

This original approach to innovation<br />

has a second part that goes beyond<br />

academia. “It is a very different way<br />

of thinking about innovation and it’s<br />

looking at communication and public<br />

education”, Debra Hellbach tells<br />

WeAreAquaculture. VIU’s Centre for<br />

Seafood not only contributes with<br />

ideas for value-added products like<br />

the one in the example just explained-<br />

something Debra herself acknowledges<br />

that, in normal times, is not in the<br />

industry’s best interest because “they<br />

can sell everything they have without<br />

investing further into that value-added<br />

processing -“. The CSI also provides a<br />

space where students, industry, and<br />

the general public can “break bread<br />

together”, a space to talk to people<br />

while they eat and stimulate some<br />

discussion.<br />

Let’s go back to the oyster example.<br />

At the lunch dedicated to them, they<br />

had an oyster farmer talking about<br />

the challenges he faces in the industry<br />

while lunch attendees – “residents<br />

that are a little bit negative about the<br />

industry because of some of the garbage<br />

that they see” – listened. “At the end<br />

of the day, there was more mutual<br />

understanding between the two and<br />

that’s how you get support for both<br />

ways”, Debra explains, and adds, “the<br />

industry has to understand what the<br />

residents are concerned about and vice<br />

versa”. They’ve talked about – and<br />

tasted – oysters, seaweed, sturgeon…<br />

any seafood product has a place in<br />

this project. It’s all about sharing<br />

together. “The idea was to improve<br />

relations between the local residents,<br />

shellfish, aquaculture companies,<br />

and the university itself. And we also<br />

wanted to provide experiential learning<br />

opportunities for the students. We<br />

had 100% participation every time”.<br />

Gradually, the success of these events<br />

has spread, and the industry has<br />



spread, and the industry has shown<br />

increasing interest. Debra boasts,<br />

energetic team members like Olivia<br />

Alexander, a marine scientist with a<br />

passion for public education, are her<br />

secrets to this success.<br />

At one point in our talk, Debra<br />

Hellbach tells us, “I’m sure everybody<br />

knows the way to someone’s heart is<br />

through their stomach. Well, I think<br />

the way to people’s brains is through<br />

their stomachs as well”. We said<br />

it at the beginning, she is a born<br />

communicator, “a food evangelist”,<br />

who is always thinking of ways to<br />

spread the word about seafood. “We<br />

need to educate people about how<br />

important food is and how aquaculture<br />

provides sustainable solutions. But we<br />

have to do it through entertainment<br />

education because people don’t listen<br />

to facts and figures”, she says. Debra<br />

believes that to really reach the<br />

public you have to entertain. These<br />

“Let’s Talk Seafood” events are both<br />

entertaining and highly educational.<br />

“People need food. And linking them<br />

to where their food comes from is<br />

really important for the industry”, she<br />

claims. “I think the industry is not very<br />

good at communicating and that’s why<br />

I went into communications because I<br />

didn’t understand why people don’t get<br />

it. From a facts and figures standpoint,<br />

it makes so much sense to shift to<br />

aquaculture. But people don’t get that.<br />

So, how do we communicate<br />

better?”.<br />

So, how do we communicate better?”.<br />

Putting a face to the industry<br />

When she talks about communication<br />

and education, Debra is passionate.<br />

She knows that her work matters,<br />

that something as seemingly simple<br />

as changing an MBA case study and<br />

putting a food company at the center<br />

of the project can change the future.<br />

“If a few more people like me would<br />

work with universities in any country,<br />

and just get them to change their case<br />

studies, we can influence thousands of<br />

people about the importance of the food<br />

industry”, she states. So, when we talk<br />

about the future, she recognizes that<br />

the challenge for the CSI is as basic<br />

as surviving. They have funding for<br />

the first three years and can cover<br />

the overhead, but how do they cover<br />

the cost of labor and develop their<br />

capacity to address problems without<br />

narrowing the focus? To be selfsufficient,<br />

that is their challenge.<br />

As for the seafood industry in<br />

general, if you focus on the<br />

projections about seafood<br />


Photo<br />

Culinary students at Vancouver<br />

Island University’s Centre for<br />

Seafood Innovation.<br />

Photo: Gloria Bell Island<br />

Expressions Photography.<br />

consumption increasing globally,<br />

according to Debra, there are lots<br />

of opportunities but also lots of<br />

challenges. Climate change, labor,<br />

regulatory complexities – primarily<br />

in British Columbia, where “the<br />

regulatory <strong>issue</strong>s are mind-boggling<br />

and hinder the future of aquaculture”<br />

right now -, and the negative public<br />

perception are all huge <strong>issue</strong>s that<br />

the industry has to work on. While<br />

admitting that she may be wrong<br />

about the public’s perception<br />

among the sector’s main challenges,<br />

the Manager at Vancouver Island<br />

University Centre for Seafood<br />

Innovation insists on its importance.<br />

“We’re not going to get support if we<br />

don’t have public support. And so that<br />

is an area where I’m concentrating<br />

a lot. Any applied research that we<br />

do, we will attach communications<br />

components to that, so people<br />

understand that that’s what we’re<br />

doing”, she claims.<br />

“Putting a face to the industry is really<br />

important”, she continues, and not<br />

just from, shall we say, an external<br />

point of view. We were talking about<br />

labor as one of the main challenges. Debra<br />

is convinced that the industry’s problems<br />

in attracting labor are also related to<br />

its public perception. In her opinion,<br />

reducing it just to wages is a mistake, it<br />

would be good to do some research on<br />

the labor side and find out what can be<br />

done. “You have to make it interesting and<br />

make people proud to work in this area”,<br />

she says. “There are plenty of examples<br />

of other industries that have taken boring<br />

jobs and turned them into good jobs. And<br />

why don’t we look into that? Why don’t<br />

we look at other industries and figure out<br />

how we can do it better?”, she wonders.<br />

And she answers herself: “Because just<br />

like other people, the industry frames<br />

things in a certain way. They have these<br />

preconceived pictures in their mind that<br />

this is how things are going to go and it’s<br />

very hard for them to see outside of that<br />

and that’s the only way we’re gonna solve<br />

these situations, we have to go outside of<br />

the box to figure out how to solve some of<br />

these problems”.<br />


Author<br />

Marta Negrete<br />

Gender<br />

equality:<br />

why is<br />

important<br />

“The responsibility falls on the companies.<br />

Employing directly into the sector and in<br />

early education,” Ashleigh Currie, Business<br />

Development Manager and Fish Health<br />

R&D at FiiZK.<br />

Photo<br />

Ashleigh Currie Business<br />

Development Manager and<br />

Fish Health R&D at FiiZK<br />

by FiiZK<br />

As in any other sector,<br />

we can all agree that<br />

gender equality only<br />

brings wealth and<br />

prosperity to all agents. It has been a<br />

long journey and it is still necessary.<br />

Although prudently we can say that<br />

the world mentality has begun to<br />

change.<br />

It is beginning to be an almost<br />

popular belief that the prosperity<br />

of humanity is only possible if we<br />

have the presence of women in all<br />

aspects of professional life. Also<br />

in aquaculture, more women are<br />

graduating and specializing in this<br />

sector. Women are starting to get<br />

more qualified jobs. Besides, we can<br />

almost glimpse full parity at the end<br />

of the tunnel.<br />

Even so, women in aquaculture<br />

still find it difficult to participate in<br />

large-scale aquaculture production,<br />

post-harvest industrial, and valueaddition<br />

processes. Positions of<br />

owners, managers, and executives in<br />

larger enterprises should have more<br />

women presence.<br />


programs and internships/apprenticeships<br />

to detail the range of positions available<br />

within this sector.”<br />

Moreover, Julie Elise Trovaag, who enjoys<br />

a position as a trainee at BioMar, thinks is<br />

good the improvement of the gender gap.<br />

“However, is still far from the equality that<br />

we should aim to reach,” she states.<br />

Improving little by little<br />

We should remember that, according<br />

to The State of World Fisheries and<br />

Aquaculture published in 2016 by<br />

FAO, “in the period 2005–2014, the<br />

quality and frequency of reporting<br />

on engagement by gender improved<br />

slowly. It is estimated that, overall,<br />

women accounted for more than 19%<br />

of all people directly engaged in the<br />

fisheries and aquaculture primary<br />

sector in 2014”.<br />

For all these reasons, we have asked<br />

two women who are leading the way<br />

in this regard, for their opinion on<br />

the actual scenario and how they look<br />

up to the near future.<br />

“The statistics are disappointing,<br />

but not surprising. I hope that the<br />

period from 2014 to date shows a<br />

more positive outlook for women<br />

joining this sector,” Ashleigh Currie,<br />

Business Development Manager<br />

and Fish Health R&D at FiiZK, says.<br />

“The responsibility falls on the<br />

companies. Employing directly into<br />

the sector and in early education.<br />

Also, implementing careers advisory<br />

About the reason why women’s<br />

participation in aquaculture and fisheries<br />

is often not so visible, Currie notes: “I<br />

believe that there may have been a culture<br />

that pertains to the fact that women<br />

cannot do manual, cage-side work. Also,<br />

there isn’t flexibility when it comes to<br />

raising a family. Unfortunately, this is still<br />

very much perceived as a woman’s job”.<br />

“However, I know lots of women working<br />

in the sector. But possibly not in as many<br />

senior roles. “That’s where attention is<br />

required to investigate how we encourage<br />

women to go for the top jobs,” she advises.<br />


Common<br />

challenges<br />

It is always worth knowing which has been<br />

the biggest challenge women usually face in<br />

this sector. Thereby, we can learn and act<br />

accordingly in future situations. Regarding<br />

this, Currie mentions that sometimes older<br />

men who had been working in the industry<br />

for a long time do not take into account the<br />

visibility of young women.<br />

primary school. I spoke to the children about<br />

my career as a marine biologist in the fish<br />

farming industry. These types of activities<br />

are vital to encourage all individuals. Regardless<br />

of gender, ethnicity, age or social<br />

background, sexual orientation or education<br />

consider this sector as a career choice.”<br />

In the same line, Julie encourages young<br />

women like her to benefit from an industry<br />

that gives “exciting job opportunities and<br />

experiences”.<br />

Photo<br />

Julie at BioMar’s feed plant at<br />

Myre, Norway<br />

by Frode Gabrielsen<br />

“Fortunately, in my experience, it didn’t happen<br />

often. But when it did, it highlighted how<br />

much more women need to fight to be treated<br />

as an equal. On a positive note, many more<br />

males pushed for me to succeed. So, I must<br />

highlight that in my case the prejudice that I<br />

experienced was minor”, she recognizes.<br />

Further, Trovaag adds: “So far, I have had<br />

a warm welcome as a woman in the seafood<br />

industry. However, I have heard about<br />

situations where women have experienced<br />

prejudices related to physical work. So, there<br />

is still a way to go.”<br />

Currie thinks the best way is by talking about<br />

their experiences and being part of mentoring<br />

programs. “Such as the one run by WiSA,<br />

which I was involved in as a mentor in 2020<br />

and educational visits”. She continues: “A<br />

couple of years ago, I visited my nephew’s<br />


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Why the<br />

future of “blue<br />

revolution”<br />

concerns all of<br />

us<br />


Photo<br />

Wesley Malcorps –<br />

University of Stirling<br />

Author<br />

Rocio Álvarez Jiménez<br />

WeAreAquaculture talks with promising researchers<br />

and young professionals who are putting efforts<br />

into not only making the blue revolution a<br />

reality but keeping us proud of it.<br />

Probably, sometimes we forget the<br />

importance of water not only for<br />

human beings but for any living<br />

species. Apart from all its basic<br />

functions, our food grows thanks to water. It<br />

carries our waste away and supports almost<br />

all of our productive activities.<br />

According to World Water Development<br />

Report (WWDR), around 14% of the water<br />

is only used for domestic tasks (drinking,<br />

cooking, washing, etc.). On the other hand,<br />

70% is used for growing food and fiber. The<br />

remaining 16% is used for industrial and<br />

energy purposes.<br />

From here comes into play the important<br />

work of aquaculture that is rapidly overtaking<br />

traditional fishing. Through this blue<br />

revolution, we can adapt production to reach<br />

food safety, sustainability, and environmental<br />

awareness.<br />

Moreover, consumer mentality is also<br />

changing. A 2018 GlobeScan study of 25,810<br />

consumers in 22 countries said 70% of<br />

respondents are increasingly demanding<br />

independent, third-party verification of<br />

sustainability in supermarkets from seafood<br />

products.<br />

So, how can we assure that this<br />

process is going in the right direction?<br />

WeAreAquaculture has contacted some of<br />

the most promising researchers and young<br />


professionals who are putting all their desire<br />

and efforts into not only making the blue<br />

revolution a reality but keeping us proud of it.<br />

is still active in other work related to the<br />

utilization of aquaculture processing byproducts.<br />

The Green Aquaculture Intensification in<br />

Europe<br />

Wesley Malcorps, an expert in aquaculture,<br />

sustainability, and circular economy<br />

and Ph.D. researcher at the Institute of<br />

Aquaculture, University of Stirling, has shared<br />

with us the details of the Green Aquaculture<br />

Intensification in Europe (GAIN).<br />

That is the reason why he advises focusing<br />

more on a re-evaluation of the potential.<br />

So, the supply of marine ingredients from<br />

under-utilized by-product resources can<br />

be increased. “It is crucial to accelerate the<br />

circular economy in the aquaculture industry<br />

in Europe and beyond”, Malcorps concludes.<br />

Blue Food Assessment<br />

GAIN is designed to support the sustainable<br />

growth of European (EU+EEA) aquaculture.<br />

Malcorps’s main focus is the strategic<br />

utilization of fish by-products, life cycle<br />

assessment (LCA), and value chain analysis<br />

(VCA).<br />

He has found that a large proportion of<br />

commonly farmed species were being<br />

routinely wasted in industrial and household<br />

processing. As examples, are Atlantic salmon,<br />

European sea bass, gilthead sea bream,<br />

common carp, and turbot.<br />

“Although fish by-products don’t sound<br />

appetizing, they are full of goodness and can<br />

be used for many purposes. Including in food<br />

supply and diet supplements,” he explains.<br />

It makes sense that if we achieve a “blue<br />

revolution” it will be more possible to access<br />

the also desired “blue food”. What we know<br />

as “blue foods” derive from aquatic animals,<br />

plants, or algae. To better manage the blue<br />

food sector, we need to collect more detailed<br />

data on production, consumption, and trade.<br />

For this reason, the Blue Food Assessment<br />

initiative was born. Through periodic<br />

research and reports, it aims to fulfill the<br />

understanding of the role blue foods play in<br />

global food systems. For later, inform and<br />

drive change in the policies and practices.<br />

According to the international joint initiative,<br />

the demand for “blue food” is expected to<br />

roughly double by 2050.<br />

Therefore, he adds: “The results show a<br />

substantially higher total flesh yield (64–77%)<br />

can be achieved if fish are fully processed.<br />

Compared with fillet only (30–56%), as is often<br />

the case.”<br />

Despite the GAIN project being finished, he<br />


Furthermore, without a shadow of a<br />

doubt places aquaculture expansion is the<br />

main supplier of this fact. Thus, supports<br />

sustainable aquaculture operations that<br />

“actively mitigate environmental risks and<br />

optimize for sustainable feeds”.<br />

The Blue Food Assessment brings together<br />

more than 100 leading researchers from<br />

more than 25 institutions around the world.<br />

Stanford University’s Center for Ocean<br />

Solutions and Center on Food Security<br />

and the Environment and the Stockholm<br />

Resilience Centre at Stockholm University are<br />

lead science partners.<br />

“The global food system is failing billions of<br />

people,” says assessment co-chair Rosamond<br />

Naylor, the William Wrigley Professor of Earth<br />

System Science at Stanford. “Blue foods can<br />

play a critical role in improving nutrition,<br />

livelihoods, and ecosystems,” he insists.<br />

The role of the companies<br />

Just as important, companies must realize<br />

that they are not only places to work but also<br />

continuous learning centers. There, both<br />

employers and employees can continue to<br />

develop and make the change possible.<br />

A good example is Biomar which organizes,<br />

along with NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster,<br />

trainee gatherings. The gatherings provide<br />

an insight into the seafood industry’s value<br />

chain, research and innovation, circular<br />

economy, and new value chains.<br />

Also, Benchmark Genetics gives in these<br />

meetings an overview of what is happening<br />

within breeding and genetics. Besides, how<br />

important this is for further fish health,<br />

welfare, and production. A total of 24 trainees<br />

with backgrounds in economics, technology,<br />

and biology attended the gatherings.<br />

In this regard, we asked Julie Elise Trovaag,<br />

a BioFarm Specialist at Biomar now, who<br />

enjoyed a traineeship in the same company.<br />

Nonetheless, she entered the industry when<br />

she was 16 years old with no experience she<br />

confirms she felt “very welcome”.<br />


“My combined practical and academic background helped me<br />

in professional terms when I got my first full-time job after my<br />

studies. Also, my practical background is helpful in my job in<br />

terms of understanding the customers (farmers) better,” she<br />

explains.<br />

Finally, she highlights the importance of these initiatives: “I think<br />

companies with a high focus on both integrity and sustainability<br />

will be attractive to young people. Additionally, trainee programs<br />

are attractive to young people – especially those that are made<br />

specifically for the industry.”<br />

Age doesn’t matter<br />

It is more than obvious that the new generations are<br />

indispensable agents in this matter. Although we should not<br />

leave aside the people that are already part of the industry. This<br />

is the reason why companies like Mowi offer specific courses in<br />

aquaculture to their staff.<br />

The Modern Apprenticeship in Aquaculture has been designed<br />

to cover all aspects of aquaculture. Namely, that staff can tailor it<br />

to make it as relevant to their role as possible. It comes following<br />

a successful pilot of a 16-week NQ (National Qualification) in<br />

Maritime and Aquaculture skills, also offered by West Highland<br />

College UHI.<br />

In short, Donald Waring, Learning and Development Manager,<br />

commented: “This new program is a significant part of the<br />

training we are looking to enhance at Mowi. The beauty of a<br />

Modern Apprenticeship is that it is vocational, on-the-job training.<br />

Everything is carried out in the workplace with no requirement to<br />

go into college.”<br />



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